How school failed my daughter.

      12 Comments on How school failed my daughter.

Little Miss is in Year 2.  She has been in school for 2 years. She has a communication delay which means she can struggle to understand new vocabulary, she can’t always put her words in the right order and she struggles to sit and listen for  a long period of time because of her lack of understanding – she can’t follow a long set of instructions through.  I was aware of these things, but the school reassured me that she was making progress, in fact faster progress than most children, so I shouldn’t worry unnecessarily.  I mentioned her communication difficulties to the school several times, but was reassured that she was doing well, don’t worry, stop panicking.

Hmmm, well she has now been taught at home for 4 weeks.  This is what my daughter didn’t know 4 weeks ago:

  1. The name of any shape:  Literally not one! Not a square, triangle or rectangle, and she certainly couldn’t describe one to me.
  2. How to add:  Not at all.  Not even 1 add 1.  In fact when I asked her to add, she looked so confused – she had no idea what I was talking about! Let’s not mention any other calculation!
  3. What a number line was:  She did say she had seen one before but really had no idea what it was for or why we might use one!
  4. Her colours: To be fair, she did know and recognise some basic colours but gold/silver/purple etc – not an idea.
  5. How to form numbers or letters correctly: She was forming most of her letters from bottom to top which made writing really difficult.

This is what my daughter had learnt in school over her 2 years:

  1. The way to get along in class is to copy someone else – always!  She has since told me that she copied every lesson every day and thought that was the way to do it!
  2. If you can’t do something, sit still and wait for an adult to do it for you.
  3. If you get frustrated about something, throw your pencil on the floor and wait for an adult to do your work for you.
  4. If you can’t read a word, guess lots of times, say ‘what could it be?’ and wait for an adult to fill in the gaps.
  5. When you are sat on the carpet and the teacher is talking for a long time, spend the time looking round at the other children, shuffling on your bottom and poking the person next to you.  Oh, and put your hand up when everyone else does just to be on the safe side.

As her parents, we literally had no idea about any of the above.  Parents’ Evenings were really positive, with the teacher telling us how much progress she was making.  It wasn’t until the end of the year that, on reading her final report, it became clear that her progress was in Reading – the one thing I was managing to fit in with her after school each day.

Little Miss was very quickly pigeonholed because she was so far behind the rest of the classs. She was always given a TA to work with her and a small group of other children who were behind the rest – and that was where she stayed. For 2 years!  Don’t get me wrong – interventions were put into place but with a TA and not a teacher.  They did the absolute best they could, and she adored her TA, but she deserved better! She deserved more time with her teacher, or another qualified teacher or HLTA. She deserved the chance to make more progress and for the school to see beyond her current capabilities!

4 weeks into homeschooling this is what my daughter now nows:

  1. The names of all 2D shapes, how to describe them using appropriate vocabulary and some 3D shapes.
  2. What a number line is, how to use it and she can add and subtract using one.
  3. How to add and how to take away simple numbers.
  4. What number bonds are and she can remember most of them.
  5. All her colours.
  6. How to form both letters and numbers correctly.

She’s also learnt that having a temper tantrum, or throwing her pencil on the floor, does not make me do her work for her.  She has learnt some resilience and how to keep going even when it gets hard.  She has learnt that learning can be fun and it feels good to work hard.  I really do understand that I am lucky that I have the time to homeschool her, even if it’s only for one year, and I do understand that teachers haven’t got the time to do 1:1 work with every child who needs it. BUT..I have worked with so many incredible teachers over the years who will manage to carve out time in their day to focus on those children who are flying just under the radar.  I know it can be done – I just would like every child to have the chance to show their potential rather than begin pigeonholed from day 1.


Diary of An Imperfect Mum
My Petit Canard

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12 thoughts on “How school failed my daughter.

  1. Something About Baby

    This is a really interesting post. I think teachers have a really tough job with their classrooms growing in size and more kids to teach that ever before. But I agree that’s no excuse to not help those that need it. I’m glad your daughter is doing better now she is at home #MarvMondays

    1. cherrynewby

      Teachers really do have it tough and it is such a hard job differentiating for all the kids! So many teachers are brilliant at doing this and recognising the childrens’ potential – we have just been unfortunate with Little Miss. Thanks for reading x

  2. Rainbowsaretoobeautiful

    This is such a shame. Your daughter clearly be has a great ability to learn but was not accessing the learning in class.. and far more worryingly this was not being noticed. I hope things get sorted, do you think differentiated teaching or more support is needed at school or are you thinking of home schooling maybe? I’ve got a few EHCP and school support posts if you head down that’s route ! Xxx #Eatsleepblogrt

  3. After the Playground (@DrSharonParry1)

    This is a really interesting post because you don’t just say that she was not doing well you go into detail about what she could have learned but didn’t. I think the points that you make about what she did learn are also very important. Schools are not the best place for all children and I’m sure you’ve made the best decision. Sounds like you are doing a great job! #MarvMondays

    1. cherrynewby

      I hadn’t really realised until my daughter came home how damaging the education system can be to some children. For the majority it’s great but sometimes it can be more damaging than any of us notice. X

  4. Stacie (@ParkerandMe)

    This is a very interesting post. Being a teacher myself I know how hard it can be to cater to every child’s individual needs, day in day out, with a class of 25+ with lots having an additional educational need, or english not being their first language. Having said that there is no excuse for letting a child slip through the radar, this should have been discussed and a referral made, or intervention put in place. You should have had frequent meetings/points of contact, to ensure that progress was being made. I’m sorry that this has happened to you – rest assured, there are fantastic teaching staff out there.

    1. cherrynewby

      Thanks Stacie. In my previous life I was a teacher too and completely get how hard it is dealing with so many different needs. I guess I’m most upset because my concerns were dismissed when I talked to the school and there was no feedback on what she was struggling with so she could help. Since having the kids it’s definitely made me think differently about how I would teach when I eventually go back. I have worked with so many incredible teachers – I think we were just unlucky! Thanks for reading x

  5. Emma T

    Crikey I’m amazed that she didn’t know that by year 2 at school. My son’s just gone into Year 1, and last year spent most of reception playing but knew more than that.

    It amazed me how some schools just think they can get away without teaching to children’s abilities. It’s one of the things that I worry about because I’m only in school to drop off N for morning club and then one school pick up which is never a great time to be asking the teacher things. Last year I was worried because the few kids who needed a bit more help with phonics (in N’s case because he just wasn’t interested and would rather do maths or play) were off working on theirs in a group with the TA rather than rotating so they got to work with the teacher. He knew them all that he’d been taught, but 4 weeks in, he’s still missing split digraphs yet they’re in the books he’s been reading. So i resort to writing notes and questions for the teacher in his reading record! It works and I get an answer and hopefully it prompts them that I am checking even if I’m not in school everyday to hassle and find out directly what’s going on.

  6. Petite Pudding (@petite_pudding)

    I think it can be so tough for teachers with such big classes – its not an excuse for letting kids fall behind but they simply can’t take their focus off the rest of the class. Sounds like your daughter is coming on leaps and bounds now. Am sure in the year she has home schooling she will learn loads #EatSleepBlogRT

  7. My Petit Canard

    I was so saddened to read that your little one had been let down by the school system in the way that she had. You are so lucky that you are in a position to homeschool her and give her the same opportunity that other children her age have to flourish. I am sure it will pay dividends as it already sounds like you are making fantastic progress 🙂 Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays. Emily


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