Henry's Mum, I can really sympathise!
I used to work as a Teaching Assistant in a primary school, which my son also attended. He is just on the Asperger spectrum, very bright and adores learning. He has always been very motivated and had decided himself when he was about 7 that he wanted to go to Grammar school.
However, once he reached year 4, things started to go downhill for him. He had a teacher who couldn't really cope with the class, consisting of many 'behaviourally challenged' children. My son would finish work ahead of others, then start to be very silly. His teacher even said to me that he understood the work 'too well', and was finishing 'too fast'. She said that his behaviour was brought on by boredom- and perhaps I could send in some extra work for him to do in these times!!!!! When I discussed this with a colleague, who had taught him during his infant stages, she was horrified. She said that any teacher who knows him should jolly well know that you simply don't let him become bored! She was always brilliant with him and set him challenges constantly, which he loved.
Fortunately, a new teacher came along and he progressed.
In year 5, it got worse. Another new teacher joined and my son sank the lowest he's ever been in his school life. I admit she faced a nightmare of a class (two years were joined together and she had some horrendous behavioural issues to deal with.) How th emain problem started, I'm not entirely sure- but it became clear that she wasn't very fond of him. Even my colleagues who worked in that class were telling me that he did seem singled out alot of the time. His behaviour deteriorated. He was never in the same league as those with real problems- but was punished each time, while they weren't. He gave up making any effort with his school work- and even said to me "What's the point, Mum, she won't bother to look at it- or she'll just moan about it if she does."
It just wasn't my son!
She would complain to me every time we passed in the corrridor or in the staffroom. I frequently heard that he was rude and cheeky. I'd talk to him- and he would be in tears at home, not knowing what he'd done. There was a complete lack of understanding of his perception of the world (because of the Aspergers.EG, a teacher thought he was eating something in class one day and asked what was in his mouth. He replied, "My tongue" and was punished for rudeness. He thought that he was simply answering the question, as he hadn't got anything else in his mouth- being very literal is one of the main characteristics of Aspergers).
To cut an already long story short- she informed me that he was rude, arrogant and intolerant- and made little effort to participate in class discussions and learning.
Not long after that, I left the school- and took my son with me.
At the very first parent teacher evening I had with his new year 5 teacher, I was informed that he is a highly motivated, popular boy- well mannered, considerate and who joins in every lesson with great enthusiasm. He was challenged from the word 'go' and has never been bored.
He has just received a place at Grammar school and at the latest parent teacher evening, his year 6 teacher couldn't sing his praises highly enough. He is achieving very highly and is happy. He hates missing school if he's unwell.
He has suffered severe migraine attacks from an early age. He had around 3-6 bad attacks every week at his old school. Since joining his current school, he has had about 5 in total (throughout years 5 and 6).
Basically, I wish I'd acted much sooner for him. I have my son back.
You know your child better than anyone. There are kids whose school behaviour would horrify their parents if they could see it- but you are realistic about your son. It doesn't sound like the school has a very realistic or caring approach. He sounds very different at home- just like my son was. Please don't feel any guilt about doing what's best for him. I really don't think that you'd be showing favouritism if you go the private route. My son is off to Grammar soon- but my daughter is home educated. It wouldn't suit him at all. It's a matter of doing what's best for each child.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I hope your son ends up as happy as mine is.
Incidentally- my son's handwriting is dreadful too!!!!!