After far too long, we've (finally) had the last straw from this school; should have done it ages ago.
I will phone the Ministry to discuss the procedures but if anyone has advice would love to hear it. Sadly, the advice to 'go to teacher, team leader, principal, Board' can't be followed because we can't get phonecalls returned et cetera.
So what do we do? How long do we wait?
We have detailed records of all phone calls, conversations, kept all emails etc.
Should have done it when they accelerated my EG underachieving and chronically bullied child to an ultimate two-year acceleration then refused us an IEP. Or when I expressed *written* concerns for my child's safety, nothing was done, and my child was assaulted. Or when they then placed my child in the same class as the one doing the assaulting. Or when they threw out the maths book and told us, after telling me to back off for a year, that nothing was done in maths all year. Or when the psyc mentioned we may have a PG child who clearly needs extension and we realised our child gets NO extension classes from the school, despite them offering several to other kids.
Has anyone made a formal complaint and had issues from the next school? That's probably the only thing that has stopped us so far, although, we have found this 'next school' to be supportive and helpful with our other child.
Hi - you poor family! my heart goes out to you. All I can say from my own experience is that if you WRITE a letter of formal complaint to the School Board, it has to by law be placed in front of them and tabled at a Board meeting - it then becomes business they have to by law attend to and it goes on the school's ERO report. Whether you can be bothered subsequently responding to the Board is another thing - having read your experience it seems as though you would be wasting your time. Heads of schools do know about each other; I have moved schools and I felt that as welcome as I was, there was a reservation about me (difficult mother) even though they knew of issues at my previous school ... and I can only imagine what was said about me because the principal of the school i was leaving tried to scare me about the school i was going to. I have simply proven myself to be a decent, steady, caring parent with lovely children and we've quickly been absorbed into the new community. I am grateful beyond measure to this school and adore all who sail in her!! We are all thriving. Best wishes.
This is a really tough situation to be in and I wish you all the very best with it. Be prepared for a long haul and maybe consider any and all options if the 'head banging' feeling gets too much for you, your family or your child.
Bullying is a serious issue and the school will have a policy on this, it would be a good idea to ahve a look at this so that you can refer to it when making a complaint [fomral or not]. Meeting chidlren's learning need and keeping them safe is something schools are expected to do but sometimes need help doing.
In general kids do better when their progress is monitored reasonably frequently - this prevents the situation of a 'give us a year' and finding that whatever the plan was it hasn't born fruit, and then playing catch up and feeling really annoyed by the lengthy delay.
If you've seen a Psychologist, consider contacting them again and asking for thir advice. They may be prepared to come to the school and help negotiate and discuss meeting your child's needs in a way you and the school can live with.
The Ministry of Education, has student advisory folk who you can phone and talk to. However they will want to know that you have followed the complaints proceedures [sounds like you've tried!]. I suggested putting complaints in writing to the Board of Trustees, you can make this a formal complaint or raise it on a more infomral basis [this still leaves you the right to then make it formal]. Doing this then gives you a paper trail and you may find tha the Board will listen to you.
If not - you can then contact the Ministry and start a formal complaints process through them.
Best of luck with a speedie and happy resolution to this situation.
Hi anon - it sounds as though the relationship between your family and this school community has broken down, probably irrevocably (for whatever reasons) - I suspect largely down to the school being unable to respond objectively, or with good professional understanding of the needs of gifted students and so is simply not responding professionally to your concerns. Behind your back they will be reacting defensively (and so are very likely to launch a counter attack on you and your child, should you push getting a hearing with them). In trying to ignore you, they have essentially retreated into their own ranks and are building their case against your child and you.
In not responding to your messages/calls, the staff are indicating they are not prepared to deal with you as a parent(s), nor open to your ideas for your gifted child. They would wish that the child accept what they are doing/offering and must conform.... they are likely to be thinking they know best and are keen to attribute any problem(s) to being with/about your child and not based on what they are doing/not doing to ensure his/her safety, wellbeing or education advancement.
In raising any concerns (informally or formally) you will likely hear a lot of counter-assertions about your child's failure to conform/adapt etc, and also you might hear concerns about your parenting and your lack of support for what the school is doing.
I suggest, if at all possible that you simply get your child to another school asap. And let that school know before enrollment that this is a gifted child who must have an IEP at the outset. Write your letter about what you want for your child, to the new Board and provide them with options for how you will be involved in developing the IEP. You not being involved is not an option -and no IEP is not an option. You must meet with the GATE coordinator and take some ideas for addressing issues you can anticipate in advance, but also to support social-emotional goals for your child - who ought not to be made miserable at school. That is, I suggest that as soon as you can - you try to remove your child from this -ve context and focus on what +ve might be achieved in a new context.
Know that if you do raise a formal complaint with the board, that Board WILL err on the side of supporting the perspective of the principal (who in term will support the teaching staff regardless of whatever evidence you present on behalf of your child). They will not just hear your complaint and respond accordingly, they will invite and hear all about every challenge your child presents the staff and school - they will learn that he/she is the problem, and that you are an emotional and pushy parent, out of touch with what actually happens in class and about your problem child in a classroom.
I would only bother, if you have a bigger mission to prompt change in this school for the next gifted child or children other than your own. But for your own child, any 'complaining' given what you have said about how they are already responding, will provoke counterclaim and more problems for your child... I would bet on it!
Many thanks for all of the feedback. Lots of good information and advice there.
Sadly, I agree that any formal complaint will result on an attack on our child and parenting. How many parents have had to deal with that? It's their standard response whenever we raise concerns.
After I posted this, my child complained of being assaulted. Cue the standard response - what did my child do to the other child?
It depends - sounds as if you have been there done that and I am so sorry. Because this is hard. Michelle, sounds as if you have a positive outcome. Yay.
Alison - I agree about keeping a paper trail. We've kept one right from the start and it's only looking at it everything we have amassed that makes me realise how bad the situation is. Sigh.
If our kids get their intelligence from their parents, then how is it that we are so stupid we keep them in these environments for so long. Hmmmm. I think I deserve the bad mum award for attending this school for so long.
I would just like to echo the problems raised by "it depends"
In raising any concerns (informally or formally) you will likely hear a lot of
counter-assertions about your child's failure to conform/adapt etc, and
also you might hear concerns about your parenting and your lack of
support for what the school is doing.
After hours of volunteering at the school and lots of assessments confirming our EG childs ability, the classroom teacher is still accusing the child of a bad attitude, coming from home and possibly one day school.
It is impossible to win against the school. We have had to change schools once because of bullying by the teacher, but after two years we now have some sort of understanding with the school. It took the volunteering, a brilliant gifted teacher in the school advocating for my child, lots of good test results, and probably a bit of luck.
Without all of those things, we probably would have had to change schools again. At least we get a new teacher next year!
Just an update - we don't care how they respond to us now. After an appalling meeting with the teacher and acting principal last week, during which we were pretty much informed that an assault wasn't addressed because they didn't really believe my child - grrr - we are getting together all of our paperwork and making a very long and detailed complaint.
About time too. It will take a while to put it together because it goes back several years but it's going to make interesting reading. And we're fortunate we have a paper trail too.
And we're pulling our child from the school.
It's LIBERATING !! I thought we'd be riddled with doubt, but it's a huge relief.
Hopefully another school in Christchurch will take us; if not, we'll homeschool for a year. Liberating !!
to Sympathise - glad things improved for you. We did have experience with one fabulous teacher for each of our kids - and it was just wonderful. What a difference a fabulous teacher can make. (Sadly, she left our school).
Glad things improved for you and hopefully next year's teacher is a good one.
Parents of gifted children have a hideous time; we're up against an entrenched kiwi attitude that doesn't want to celebrate success (unless it's on a rugby field) and an education system that won't support the fundamentals of intelligence - intelligence is diverse, dynamic and distinct! It is very difficult for us to feel good about our children; we cannot discuss our concerns with other parents because they think we're showing off, it alienates you from coffee groups, our children are often socially awkward and they don't get invited on playdates - we have to live in the suburbs cos that's where the schools are and that's what families do but we're made to feel we don't belong. We are Cheetah families in Lion country (google the essay 'Is it a Cheetah' - it's fabulous!) and it's lonely. You wrote earlier "If our kids get their intelligence from their parents, then how is it that we are so stupid we keep them in these environments for so long" - you aren't stupid, you've just been hopeful that other adults would do the right thing by your child! You've also been an involved parent and a proactive parent - we have to advocate for our children because they can't do it for themselves - I think you are doing an excellent job of looking after the best interests of the very special little spirit you have been blessed with. Our children choose us!
When we changed schools we lost most of our friends, they were all so offended that we thought the school wasn't good enough - even though they knew how difficult it had been for my children, one mother actually said to me 'well, luckily my children are run of the mill normal, so i don't have the issues you do and this school works for us'. When we mention we homeschool our eldest, people actually change the subject!! I have taken to telling people that i don't believe in Education anymore - but i do believe in Learning .. .and that's what we do all day long! Ken Robinson's talk on TED.com 'Education kills creativity' is also encouraging. Take good care and be kind to yourself, you're doing a good job :-)
Dear Original Anon
Pretty sure your child is at the same school as ours. If it's any consolation the kind of response you have had is pretty standard for any parents that raise concerns there. Any problems are the fault of the parents or they are imagined. Acceleration is the answer to everything but no support or different opportunities are offered once the acceleration takes place.
We know other parents in your position who have removed their children during the last couple of years because they couldn't get the school to listen. Well done for deciding to make a formal complaint.
Well done with that reply Michelle - this whole thread is so heart-rending.
I'm just another one who is endlessly frustrated by the way main-stream NZ has no understanding of the fact that our 'education system' is more about 'system' than education and frequently flies in the face of much of what we know about effective learning.
I am also very tired of having conversations with parents who have no idea about how children actually learn and seem to think that the ultimate goal of childhood is for the child to fit in well at school......sigh!
Well, thats my rant for the day.
Best wishes to all who are struggling with ignorant and insensitive "professional educators"