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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:56 am 
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I am posting this on behalf of a family member.

They have a situation whereby the headmaster at their state primary frankly has a poor opinion of their daughter both academically and socially. He is also a socialist who is very against independent schools. Could this count against her especially if he suggests she isn't up to par work wise or is a bit of a misfit/anti social?

Their daughter hasn't had a easy ride at school, she's been badly bullied practically since reception. She's quite adult in her ways and not into the X factor, celebrity type culture that seems to pervade the school and her peer group. She's seen as a bit of a misfit and the school has suggested she's anti social and over sensitive (in other words responsible for her own victimisation).

She also has had some issues with poor motor control which perhaps have made others see her as being less intelligent than she is. Reports say things like 'her work is spoilt through poor presentation'.

My Sister in Law says she's up to par academically and excels in English in particular. Reads widely and far ahead of age group.

Is there anything that can be done to improve her chances? Sister in Law says that no-one has previously applied to independent school from this primary as far as she's aware.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:28 am 
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One option would be to ask another teacher to do the report on the basis that they know the child better, or ask the head if you can see the report - probably doesn't have to show you but I reckon would not like to be blamed if it was perceived to be the cause of child not getting in.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:56 am 
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Thank you. I think I would under the circumstances but my SIL is quite non confrontational.

Surely, the head must show you if asked?

Would/could a school refuse a candidate just on the strength of a poor headmasters report? Would independent schools not realise that there is sometimes/ could be a 'bias' for want of a better word?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:00 am 
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Location: Maidstone
I had the exact same problem because my DD's teacher in Year 5 was awful and she made a very bad report in July yet she had never spoken to us about these things. It was things like she chats in class, doesnt concentrate and put effort blah blah. I wrote a complaint letter to the Head because I knew they would be getting a reference request soon. She arranged to talk to me and I just told her I was unhappy with the report because the things were never mentioned to us.

She just played down the report and said she encouraged her teacher to make some negative comments not all positive ones so that the child knows what they need to do for the next stage. I didnt mention at all that a reference request would be coming their way but at the least I just wanted them to give a flat report than a negative one. She now has a very nice teacher and who told me just at the beginning of last term that they had received the reference request and she had done her best to sell my daughter.

If the school is like mine, it maybe the teacher who fills it in and Head countersigns it. Perhaps your SIL could just talk to the Head and also the teacher. I did go for the formal letter because I know them and I would have just been fobbed off. A letter first helped me to put all my thoughts on paper and not miss out on any points. Heads dont like these letters, while she downpalyed it she clearly listened to my concerns and I am certain there was no way they could have put that nonsense in my DD's reference after I had challenged it.

Cranleigh out of interest how competetive is the school? From what I have gathered highly competetive schools like those in London use the report on bordeline cases but for country school like the one we are going for they put a lot more value on the school report.

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Last edited by sherry_d on Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:03 am 
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I think there is one factor re this that has to be remembered and that is the importance placed on a headmasters report from a head they know - as opposed to one they don't.
From one school they may get many children and a range of reports - they will, over the years, have been able to read between the lines and be aware of how the report matches the child. A single report from a head they have never come across before will probably be given the benefit of the doubt.

FWIW, we moved houseand DD started a new prep in year 4, we went to look round and the head offered a place on the spot - the admissions info said that they always got a headteacher's report but clearly this wasn't going to make a difference in this case.
I think the school will trust their own eyes more at exam and interview.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:31 am 
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Thanks, I will feed back the information.

It's for a sought after London independent.

SIL thinks her daughter may be borderline in the exam so that's why she's more concerned about this report situation I think.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 11:50 am 
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Cranleigh wrote:

Their daughter hasn't had a easy ride at school, she's been badly bullied practically since reception. She's quite adult in her ways and not into the X factor, celebrity type culture that seems to pervade the school and her peer group. She's seen as a bit of a misfit and the school has suggested she's anti social and over sensitive (in other words responsible for her own victimisation)


This sort of thing makes my blood boil. I have found it to be the main way schools fob off bullied children - or even just the ones that haven't found their niche yet - and puts the blame squarely on the child. If as a parent, you try to stand up for your child and voice your complaints, then you are quickly made to feel part/cause of the problem/over anxious/neurotic etc. You end up feeling isolated and full of self doubt. The school does nothing. Female bullying esp problematic in this respect.

Children are bullied for being fat/thin, clever/struggling, rich/poor, good at sport/poor at sport etcetc... Why can't schools cotton on that bullying etc is caused by the bullies not the victim.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:19 am 
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I agree with you 100%.

Sadly I believe many privately think certain children only have themselves to blame and 'bring it on themselves'.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:08 pm 
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BTW schools should offer you the ability to view any report that they write about your child (and before it is sent ideally!). If they refuse when asked, quote the freedom of information act as this covers all information that they hold. It was used at a primary school I know to request copies of school references.

Good luck!
DC


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:11 pm 
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I thought confidential references was one of the areas exempt!


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