Yes, 2014 is already a week old, so I’m not talking about this year. I think we’re finally getting into no.1 son being at secondary school!
I’m not sure who’s had the steepest learning curve – the child or the parents. My guess is, from how we’ve all coped with it, that it’s us, the parents that have had more to adjust to than my son!
When no.1 left primary school, we knew he was ready for his next challenge. He’s a bright, talented boy, and as you know, very sporty. We were all pleased with the school he attends, and the transition arrangements seemed to be all set up to support the pupil to get started into secondary school life very quickly. What could go wrong?
What about the rest of the family though in this major change? It’s not that we didn’t want him to move on to the next phase of his life. We just wanted to ensure, as we’ve always done for the past 11+ years, that he was safe, happy, knew what was going on around him, and knew where to get support from if he wasn’t.
We found that, the communication channels between school and home were loose. We were told that the website would be a major channel for messages, and the school used twitter as well. As I use twitter I thought this would save me from looking on the website each day to see if football training had been cancelled. But, hey-ho, that’s not what they were meaning!
School meant that, from day 1, the pupil was responsible for knowing what was going on, and getting to and from school safely. The pupil is responsible for communicating any necessary message to parents. This assumes that each child has the means of communicating with parents, which my son doesn’t. Yes, he may well be in the minority of not having a mobile phone, but maybe that’s a discussion for another time.
After a few fraught weeks, we finally reached an understanding that the school twitter feeds were not for every group or class, but for general messages. If a message was put out about sport training, then it didn’t necessarily mean that other groups weren’t on – it was just that one teacher was using twitter, and communicating with their group.
On the education side, no.1 seemed to be bringing books home, but had very little homework. Some of the girls I knew in his class seemed to be spending longer on work at home than he was. Was it a boy thing? Or was he not engaging with the work? At a meeting with his form teacher at the end of the first half term, we discovered that he was doing ‘OK’, and teachers hadn’t reported any issues about him or his work. Is that a good thing? Just getting by?
The second half-term seemed to fly by, but I think my son realised that to maintain his place in the set he’s in, that he did actually need to do some work! I showed him one of his books from year 6 to show him his lovely handwriting, and we compared it to his year 7 work. The penny was finally dropping! The homework still hasn’t come thick and fast, but we now know that it’s going to be like that.
My eldest has learnt lots of lessons in his first 13 weeks at secondary school. He knows that his education is important, but found it difficult to put effort in when he was being recognised for his sporting achievements at school, not his educational ones. We’ve had the conversation that, “wouldn’t it be great to be recognised for work as well as sport?”, and it looks like he’s finally understanding. He’s starting to see that there may well be a reason for this education lark, and not just to meet girls! We’ve started talking about careers, (another discussion for another day), and he seems a little more focused this week.
Going from a school of 200, to being in a year group of the same number is quite a challenge. It sounds like my son is popular amongst his peers, and is known by teachers and his House for his sporting achievements. But the popularity brings challenges too. Again, another topic for another day.
Finally though, I think we’re all getting into the swing of secondary school. He’s found some freedom and has made lots of new friends and acquaintances. He’ll come home to an empty house now, which is something neither my husband nor I did at his age. We’ve learnt that school are there to support him educationally, but also give him lots of exciting opportunities to get involved with, and they’ll encourage the all-round development of my young man, along with the 199 other pupils in his year.
I can honestly say now though, that the pattern for secondary school life, is that there is no pattern! 2014 is a new start for us all, and getting into the swing of life with a year 7 is exciting for us all, and we’re looking forward to supporting him this year.
Is this the right way to look at it?