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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 7:16 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:02 pm
Posts: 297
Location: S E London
My daughter is very unhappy at her secondary school

Just some background - she has dyslexia, is very bright (2 level 5s and a 6 in maths at the end of year 6) and plays the violin to a high standard (last piece she learnt was on the grade 7 syllabus a couple of years ago) plays in an orchestra on Saturday and a chamber group mid-week, and sort of plays the flute (lessons but no practice!)

She has difficulties with breaking down words into sounds, storing and finding words and spelling. She also suffers with sensory overload.

We decided against grammar school, because they all required her to learn 2 foreign languages, the homework demands were greater, and she doesn't respond well to being pushed - she does much better left to work at her own pace, as she works hard and always tries her hardest.

We spent a long time considering secondary schools for her and chose a local girls' school as it seemed calm when we looked around, it has dyslexia friendly status, and she would be able to get home quickly, thus giving her more time for music and homework.

However, it has really not worked out for her. She comes home in tears several nights a week, says she does not want to go to school, and is totally exhausted when she gets home so that music practice and homework are incredibly hard work - she has had to abandon her latest violin piece as she doesn;t have the energy to work on it

The classroom is a very noisy place, which she cannot cope with. Most lessons are not set, which I thought would work well for her , but seems to have resulted in most lessons being disrupted.. I have since heard other parents say it is a noisy place, and I have also heard that the head girl in yr 11 is not planning to stay in the newly opened sixth form because she cannot cope with the noise and 'liveliness' of the place any longer. I went to the school concert last week and was appalled at the behaviour and noise of the students and many of the parents. The individual work on phonics she is supposed to receive has not really happened as the specialist assistant is on long term sick leave and the SENCO is on maternity leave ( there is a part time replacement whom I have seen). Her spelling and handwriting have got worse as she doesn't have any brain power left over from coping to put into difficult things like spelling.

The school have tried to be supportive, but my daughter works hard at school and refuses to cry or show how hard she is finding it - so they think she is doing fine and I suspect think I am a fussy mum. In many ways I am - I know my daughter, and I see how worn out she is from just trying to cope every day.

The question is - what do I do about it? I need to go and talk to someone there ( head of year, probably) but I think they will just say she is doing fine, and won't see the lack of energy for her music as a problem, even though it is upsetting her.
I could look at other schools - maybe ones which set for more subjects. I could take her out for a couple of terms and work towards the 12+ ( with no guarantee she will pass, and we still have the original problems associated with grammar schools). I could take her out for a time, tackle the phonics myself ( I was a special needs teacher, although not with any specialism in dyslexia) and see how we go.

I hope this makes sense, and I would be grateful for any comments you could make. I know she has only been there a term, but I don't think the school will get any quieter and so she will always have to use a lot of energy just to cope with it.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 8:16 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:34 pm
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Hi I sent you a pm
DC

I would say my DD dropped a lot of extra curricular stuff at the start of yr 7 to let her settle in to school she kept up with guides once a week. She has then picked up new activities at school.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:01 pm 
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It sounds like the school is not great for anyone.

What are your options?


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:13 am 
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Had the unhappiness been all term, or only recently? If recently, it could be down to tiredness. My dc2 year 7 used to get up easily to go to school, but more recently had to be dragged out of bed ( apart from at weekends :? ). If more long term, then it may be worth considering your options.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:05 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:06 pm
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It does sound like she is struggling and I would search for some specialist dyslexia forums online as there are parents who will have been through similar traumas. I would definitely speak to the school and maybe even contact IPSEA for their advice. It may be that the sensory issue is too much for her and she is not coping with the huge changes that secondary entails. The fact she is dyslexic will be making things doubly difficult - she is obviously not thriving and the fact that her work is deteriorating is a worrying sign of stress or anxiety. Good luck.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 2:39 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:43 pm
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http://www.beingdyslexic.co.uk/forums/i ... opic=10292
I found the above link which asked a similar question on a specialist forum.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 8:51 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:02 pm
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Location: S E London
Thank you for your replies, suggestions and link!

DD has been unhappy all term, not just towards the end, although she is shattered. She has repeatedly said that it is just 'all too hard' although she is actually doing well, if you just look at the academics (apart from spanish which is just a mystery to her). Giving up her violin is not an option as it is likely she could make a career out of it. The music at her school is nowhere near her standard and the orchestras she plays in are entry by audition. She is unlikely to win a place if she gives up and then wants to go back. From what we can gather she is the best musician in the school. Playing the violin is the thing she loves the most, but she doesn't have the energy for it.

Options would be to leave her there, talk to the school and cross our fingers that things will get better; look at other schools, maybe where there is more setting and hope that they will be less daunting; take her out short term and try for the 12+ or try home educating her - I could tackle the spelling issues - and see how we got on, with the option of looking at other schools.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:30 pm 
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I am sure that you have thought of this but are there any specialist music schools near you?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:18 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 3:02 pm
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Location: S E London
sorry I've been so slow to reply

There are no specialist schools near us - she would have to board which she really doesn't want to do (and i wouldn't be very happy either!)

She has a new form tutor whom she likes much better than the old one and we saw him last night alongside a SEN assistant who is also attached to the class. They were very concerned to hear about how unhappy she is and why, and wanted to know which lessons were particularly noisy. They are going to check up with her at the end of every day and are thinking about other strategies to help her.

The maths lessons have now been set and she is in the top set, so that lesson is calmer. She has a new humanities teacher who seems like a better teacher and who also is making her expectations about behaviour very clear and following up on what she says. She has been moved to a different table in ICT away from some of the more difficult children and was given more difficult work. The English teacher she doesn't like has been replaced by one she seems to like better.

We have also decided (and told the form tutor) that she does her violin as soon as she gets home, rather than doing her homework first, and I will stop her doing any homework which takes more than an hour and write a note to the teacher.

Overall I think things are improving for her, so I will see how things go this term.


Fingers crossed!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:07 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:47 pm
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Location: Warwickshire
Glad things are going better. Good for you for saying you're going to send a note in if homework takes longer than an hour.

Sadly my dd2 continues to spend very little time on her homework. By the way, Spanish is a mystery to her too :roll:


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