My daughter is unhappy at school

My daughter is unhappy at school.

I blogged recently about my daughter’s unhappiness at school.

I was asked if she wanted to go on a residential school trip.  When she joined the school she did want to go but now reports feeling unsafe at school and does not want to go on the trip.

When I emailed the school to tell them this, the Head contacted me saying that as Head and Child Protection Officer he would like me to clarify what allegations were being made in view of her using the word “unsafe”

I had a long chat with my daughter and the following describes what she told me.

She  states that she is frequently pushed by a male pupil into walls and bushes.
She  feels that a female pupil and her friends pick on her.
I have to say on arriving at school one day I felt it was clear that a group of girls disliked Willow and were carrying out some low-level teasing.
In our meeting with my daughter’s class teacher, she stated that my daughter has never complained about any abuse, bullying or teasing by pupils.  My daughter tells me that she does not complain as she feels she will not be believed.  I have to say that in our two meetings with class staff there was a big emphasis put on how “nice” and “trusthworthy” the girls in daughter’s class are.  That may well be the case but it does not mean that daughter’s feelings are not valid.  Realistically, as I pointed out to the teacher, my experience is that few people, adults or children, are nice all the time.
I did ask the school to provide a book of some sort where my daughter could write down her feelings if she was nervous about saying things out loud.  It appears this suggestion has not been taken up.
I told the teacher that if my daughter feels unable to complain alone then I am happy to come into school so she feels that bit safer to
In his email the Head raised two specific incidents.
1. My daughter made an awful comment against girls on her table.
On the day she made the comment, she came home in great distress telling me immediately what she had said and how she knew this was very wrong indeed.  She was clearly very disappointed in  herself.  She was made in no doubt by the whole family that the comment was totally inappropriate.
The next day my daughter was scared to go to school fearing the consequences of her action.  I told her she would have to face the discipline and then once she had, she would be able to move on.
M daughter arrived at school and walked out arriving home later that morning.  I do not know when school became aware of this fact but I received a phone call from school after she had arrived home and it is a long walk home.  I calmed her down and returned her to school again saying that she would have to face school discipline as she had done wrong.  When I arrived at school, I told Reception I felt it would be useful for me to speak with the Head but was told that was not necessary.
I totally accept the comment made by my daughter was inappropriate and nasty.  It does not however define her and I would hope both she and the school can leave it in the past at some point
The Head also alleged that my daughter had called her teacher stupid. Once again, had my daughter said this she would have been told off at home.  From day one, my daughter has stated firmly that she never made this comment.  Here is what she has told us.
She was talking to herself one day in class and said a phrase that does sort of rhyme with stupid but was not that word and was actually about her lunch choice. At that point a pupil went to the class teacher saying that my daughter had called her stupid.  My daughter says he then persuaded his friends to allege the same. The teacher said my daughter  was to see her at break time and that at break, she sent my daughter to the Head’s office.  She says she went to the office and the boys who were saying she had said “stupid” were there.  She says the Head asked her what had happened and that she was scared so at first said nothing.  She said that the Head stated she was wasting break time.  She says the Head spoke  louder and asked “What are you here for?”  She then says she said “They think I said that my teacher was stupid”  She says the Head’s voice got louder and he said “They think.  I am pretty sure they know”  Then he sent the boys off saying their playtime should not be wasted because of my daughter.  He asked her to write a report but she felt unable to write it as the felt there was not an incident to report as she had not said “stupid.”  She says she wrote down “I ..” and then stopped.    At the end of break she says the Head checked on her report and shouted at her saying that she was to come back at lunch time without having dinner.  So she came back at lunch and he said that she had to write a report like in a newspaper saying she had done it because she had. So she admitted it to but did not write down what she was alleged to have said as she knew it was not the truth.  She states he then said she had to write down that she had said the teacher was stupid.  She said he disappeared but came back and she gave him the report.  Then she says he told her to write an letter of apology to the teacher.  She says she did this letter but kept it short as she had not said “stupid” in the first place.
Our concerns are that
1 My daughter is unhappy at school.
2. My daughter feels that she can not complain about anything as she will not be believed
3. My daughter is being picked on by several pupils
4. We don’t want our daughter to be defined as nasty by the school although we acknowledge as does she that she has made at least one nasty comment.
5. We are concerned that when my daughter has denied an allegation that she called a teacher stupid, she seems to have been forced to confess and apologise for something she did not say.
I have emailed the Head with this information.
It is clear that my daughter has lost all trust in the school so we need to work out what is best for her now.
I really would welcome comments on this one as it is a tricky and challenging situation.

 

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23 Comments

  1. Laurenne @ This Mummy July 30, 2014 / 2:07 pm

    This is so saddening to read 🙁

    I am home educating my two girls (a few reasons why here http://thismummy.com/8-reasons-why-we-are-home-educating-our-children/ ) and I have vivid recollections of that horrible ‘trapped’ feeling at school, where no one is on your side and you have no one to turn to.

    Have you spoken to your daughter? What would make her happy? Would she like to be home educated (I know you mentioned on Twitter you were thinking of this)?

    I hope you manage to find a happy outcome for you all x

    • Kate Davis-Holmes
      Author
      July 30, 2014 / 4:41 pm

      I have spoken with my daughter. She says she would prefer home education but would also consider another school. She is adamant she does not want to go back to the school she is registered with currently and I can see why.
      Off over to check out your post and get clued up on all things home education

  2. Kirstin Hancock July 30, 2014 / 2:14 pm

    Kate,
    Prior to starting my own business I was a deputy HT. It sounds like a complete breakdown in the relationship between yourself, your daughter and your school of choice. Your daughters unhappiness will effect her learning, there is a great amount of relationship building that needs to happen in the new school year. Perhaps the summer break will and new school year will provide a fresh start.
    If it doesn’t perhaps you need to reconsider if your daughter is in the school that best meets her needs.
    Enjoy the summer.
    Kirstin

    • Kate Davis-Holmes
      Author
      July 30, 2014 / 4:43 pm

      I honestly feel that she was written off very quickly without appropriate tools being looked into to help her settle into a new area and school.
      I think I will be making a decision on the future in the next week or so for her sake and to move forwards positively
      Thanks for commenting

  3. mylittledreamworld1 July 30, 2014 / 2:59 pm

    It sounds like your daughter has got into a vicious cycle of not being believed – it seems as though both she and the other children have already been given ‘labels’ by the school and they are not willing to change these.
    It is my feeling that the head teacher has some sort of responsibility to ensure the well being of your daughter, and I do not feel that he is acting appropriately at all.
    Home education I guess is one option, or otherwise looking into other schools in the area where your daughter will feel more comfortable?
    It seems to me that at the school she is at, things are not likely to improve. Even if the teachers do improve and start believing her, it is likely that the other kids will continue their bullying.
    It’s a real shame and it’s sad, but other options might need considering.
    Has your daughter made any friends since moving? Or does she have a diary she could write in to get her feelings out?
    I hope things get better for her. Xx

    • Kate Davis-Holmes
      Author
      July 30, 2014 / 4:45 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I think all children can be good and bad just like adults. However I do think the school appears to have taken against her which is quite shocking to us as she has always had reports of good behaviour from her other schools.
      My daughter does name one girl she sees as a friend but says the other girls bully her into dropping my daughter at break times etc.
      She has a book to write her feelings down now – she chose a pretty pink one yesterday when were out and about.
      I think options are becoming clearer and comments on this blog are helpful in that process

  4. liveotherwise July 30, 2014 / 3:22 pm

    Useful comments above.

    You can home educate if you want to – you will be perfectly capable. And it will give your daughter confidence that she is listened to.

    There are many active support groups, both local and national. There’s a big group on facebook and there may well be one for your local area (I’m sorry, I’m not sure where you are).

    Happy to chat via email if you want to drop me a line, and I’m pretty much always around on twitter 🙂

    • Kate Davis-Holmes
      Author
      July 30, 2014 / 4:46 pm

      Thanks so much for the support and I know you are the person or one of them to talk to about home education if we take that route. Very generous of you to offer support and I suspect I will be taking you up on that very soon

  5. Glenys July 30, 2014 / 4:05 pm

    It sounds like what your daughter says is true in that she feels she won’t be believed if she complains. Got off on the wrong foot springs to mind. She’s so young too to be going through this. Also sounds like the Head was having a bad day too towards the end of the school year – end of his tether. All good advice above particularly asking her what would make her happy. Maybe the summer break will help. Will she have a new form teacher. Has she made any friends?

    • Kate Davis-Holmes
      Author
      July 30, 2014 / 4:49 pm

      It does seem she challenged the Head on the first day. However, I expect teachers to rise above that and not dislike a child who questions authority.
      As you can imagine, I feel very proud that she has maintained/improved her learning work at this challenging time for her when she is clearly so emotionally unhappy.
      My brother raised the same point about tired out Heads in the Summer term but obviously my key concern is my daughter’s welfare and with a mum like I had, I know I will dig deep to protect her.
      There will be a new form teacher and she made one friend but says she is bullied into dropping her.

  6. Ojo Henley July 30, 2014 / 4:16 pm

    I think mistakes were made at the beginning of the school year, when your daughter acted out. There should have been more support off the school as she had moved a long way and was new.

    This does not seem a good environment for her. The head has shut down, maybe its end of year exhaustion, but it smacks of unprofessional behavior.

    Honestly, I would look at moving her, with home schooling being a valid option x

    • Kate Davis-Holmes
      Author
      July 30, 2014 / 4:51 pm

      You seem to think much as I do. Whilst I can have sympathy for heavy workloads for teachers, that does not justify labelling my child as a problem. She needs help not writing off.
      You have made me feel better – you always do

  7. Stephs Two Girls July 30, 2014 / 10:42 pm

    My thoughts would be that if she made an innapropriate comment, it could well be because she was driven to it? That was dealt with though and should have no bearing on what is happening now. Can’t believe it sounds like they are ‘sticking up’ for the other ‘trustworthy’ girls – surely they should be impartial? I’d stick to your gut feeling; you know what is best and already you are doing what you can for your daughter. If they are not listening, then it is definitely the wrong environment. You could take it further to the Governors, they’d possibly be a bit hotter on fixing the worries then…? x

    • Kate Davis-Holmes
      Author
      July 31, 2014 / 6:15 pm

      She said she said the nasty comment (and it was a really nasty one) after constant personal questions and making fun by the other girls. Seems she lost control in that moment but the school seem to be putting so much emphasis on that event rather than helping her.
      I agree they should be impartial and it is clear my little girl worked out they are not and then I had it confirmed as we went along. I will be informing the Governors but think my daughter needs to be taken away from the school. Thanks for your helpful comment

  8. Ellen July 31, 2014 / 5:47 am

    It sounds like there has been a massive breakdown in the school/parent/child relationship, do you have faith in the head that things will improve? I personally don’t, I think that the school have been to quick to label your daughter, I cant believe that she was able to walk out of school & from what I’ve read in the last month your daughter has had no support to see that she settles in properly in school emotionally & academically.

    I would be looking at alternatives like other schools & home education (If you want to chat about HE, let me know!).

    • Kate Davis-Holmes
      Author
      July 31, 2014 / 6:17 pm

      Home education is really appealing and I do not want her to return to that school in September as we the parents and my daughter do not have that faith of which you speak.
      I keep asking what tools are available or have been tried but it always seems to come back to saying it is her fault, she needs to be braver etc.
      Not good enough in my view

  9. Carol July 31, 2014 / 7:48 am

    You have not mentioned why your daughter made a nasty comment when all this kicked off.
    I’m thinking that something had been happening over a period of time and she reacted and hit back.
    My daughter went though a period of bullying by different ones in her class (year 5 and 6). We got a brilliant book, from Amazon, that really helped “How to handle bullies teasers and other meanies” It explains why children become bullies, teaser etc and gives examples and techniques on how to handle different situations. L used them and the bullies stopped bothering her because they just couldn’t get one over her. It also built up her confidence having the tools to fight back with without getting into trouble. I would fully recommend this book. It’s like a little handbook.
    It is a tough decision you have to make but best wishes on finding the right one for your family.
    Carolx

    • Kate Davis-Holmes
      Author
      July 31, 2014 / 6:18 pm

      I will certainly be getting hold of that book. Thank you.
      She says they had made fun of her and pushed her for personal information she did not wish to share so she lashed out.
      I have already decided she cannot go back to that school

  10. Mari July 31, 2014 / 6:01 pm

    Kate I am so sorry to read this and am concerned for you and your daughter. I’m afraid I don’t have any advice as never been in this horrible situation but I hope someone out there can help you

  11. Kate Davis-Holmes
    Author
    July 31, 2014 / 6:12 pm

    Thanks for commenting and sharing your own experiences too. I am pleased things are turning a positive corner for you now. Sounds like you have had a fair amount of stress along the way.
    I agree unhappiness at school can have a big impact and will do what is best for my little girl

  12. Kate Davis-Holmes
    Author
    July 31, 2014 / 6:20 pm

    I thank you for such a powerful comment which really made me realise the danger my daughter is in not just now but for her future too.
    I recently found out a teacher who bullied me in the Eighties is still at my old school, Unbelievable!

  13. Kate Davis-Holmes
    Author
    July 31, 2014 / 6:21 pm

    Thanks for the comment and support Mari. As always in challenging times, the blogosphere is coming up trumps. This gives me great strength. I have moved from shock to upset to plans for her positive future

  14. Mandi August 2, 2014 / 1:56 pm

    I know exactly what you are going through, my son has been unhappy for a while at his secondary school, but it took the choices for my next daughter to realise that he didn’t have to stay where he is, even though he is just starting his gcses, I went to look at a different secondary school for N and they also have welcomed L with open arms, he has had two visits prior to starting, tests to ascertain his levels so he can be put in the right groups and an individual mentor that will help him achieve his best. He is now actually looking forward to going to school after the summer, something he has never done before, it is definitely possible to find a place that will help, not hinder your daughter xxx

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