We’ve recently changed Junior Schools for my eldest and whilst I talked about the process of changing before I didn’t go into too much depth about why so I thought I would write a bit more about our decision to change Junior Schools Mid Year and how Evie’s been getting on since she started.
Why Did We Change Schools?
There was a multitude of reasons as to why but it is something we have been considering when she started Year 2 of the Infants school and we felt Evangeline had been singled out from moving up to a new class without any of her friends. It took her a while to make new friends in Year 2 and she was quite unhappy but by Christmas she was doing okay so we let it lie. However, Year 3 was quite different and out came more problems, issues and anxieties, mostly because of the teacher. I spoke to the deputy head about it who was nice but not really very helpful and moving classes, apparently, wasn’t an option. I’m still very much in two minds whether to formally complain to the Governers of the school or to let it lie now that she’s moved.
The main reason was Evangeline’s growing distaste of going to school. She was very difficult at the end of the day on the long walk home which was hard to deal with, especially with a newborn and recovering from a c-section. She wanted to be at home more, she was acting out and she was complaining of stomach aches and not wanting to go.
Secondly was the increase in homework. She was required to read each night, do weekly spellings, timestables and do a homework book each week which was usually inclusive of her spellings and about 50 maths questions. This is all for seven and eight year olds which I personally feel is very excessive. Not only that but we once made the mistake of doing homework in pen which Evangeline was told was “unacceptable”. There were many other notes on how the homework was done wrong and it was becoming a constant source of stress at home.
Then there was the addition of being sanctioned for bad behaviour and Evangeline seemed to be punished more than rewarded which we found very unusual. She is chatty and a bit forgetful but in my opinion sanctions should be for misbehaving, bullying other students, not following instructions deliberately rather than just being thrown around and threatened with every day. It is unfair for a child of eight to go into school with the threat of being sanctioned, isolated and losing playtime. It actually started to feel like the teacher had a personal vendetta against my child.
Then there were all the incidents of unkind conversations the teacher had with my partner. Adam felt patronised during school drop off times and would often refuse to talk to her about a concern. This made me increasingly angry which lead to the conversation with the deputy head as I felt I’d lose my temper with the actual teacher.
One particular time Evangeline came home to tell me I had to buy her a top for PE that had the school logo on. A top that costs £10 or you can get two red tops for £4 in Asda. Telling a child off for this is inexcusable and actually a way to exploit relative poverty. When you have to buy new Uniform all the time every penny you can save counts. Some parents can not afford to constantly buy school branded uniform. Evangeline may go to school with a Smiggle bag (that I was gifted) and a nice coat (that my dad bought) but that doesn’t mean that I can afford to consistently buy logo branded uniform every year.
Another large issue for us was the actual getting to and from school. Being non drivers I was struggling with the hour long round walk twice a day following Felix’s birth and I couldn’t always rely on Adam who had to work nights and go to University three days a week. It was really hard and affecting my own anxiety as well as recovery. Friends and family did help in the first few weeks but I couldn’t keep relying on them each day. It is a particularly horrible walk in the winter where cars are constantly driving through huge puddles soaking you through and there is ice on the grounds. There is a bus route but again an expense I just couldn’t quite afford day in day out. The best option for us was to change Junior Schools.
Settling In To A New School
Thankfully we quickly became top of the waiting list for year three in Evie’s new school and she moved very quickly into her new class. It’s still early days yet but there has been a massive improvement in her mental wellbeing, happiness and anxiety already. She has developed some fast friendships with friendly girls in the class, the Year 3’s get occasional homework but are only required to do reading, spelling and timetables at home.
The facilities are great, although her old school had a swimming pool but that just means we will have to take her swimming ourselves more until she is in Year 5 where they do swimming at school too. The teachers are friendly and she has already come home with a well done gift. She comes out of school smiling and actually talking about her lessons which is something we never had at her old school.
We are also just ten minutes away thankfully so the walk in the morning takes no time at all and we are home at the end of the day with great time. It’s also mostly flat ground so even when it’s icy it’s much easier to navigate to school. We’ve seen more wildlife too on the walk which just makes it a nicer experience for us really.
The school to home communication is better with a regular newsletter by email, parent mail text messages and a home school book with space for comments. There are three adults per class, a teacher and two LSA’s alongside a few student teachers from time to time which is great as that means more one to one time with students. Having smaller year groups really appeals too so that makes me feel like she’s in a much better school.
The extra curricular are much more exciting to Evangeline too with a PTA movie night coming up, annual trips to the local cinema, a residential stay every year with very flexible payment plans. There’s a big focus on art towards the end of the school year and next week is Film and Writing week which sounds like it’s going to be really fun for the school. I think it’s really important to find new ways to engage children with a pretty outdated national curriculum that encourages children to pursue different subjects rather than just going by the text book. So far her new school feels like it really wants to get the best out of the children and as she seems so much happier, we are able to enjoy our time together as a family much more.