This week one of my tutees (year 9) mums contacted me by email to ask me how I felt her son was doing at school. She raised the following concerns:
- He is expressing that school is ‘too much’ at the moment.
- He seems overwhelmed by the expectations of higher level learning.
- She is concerned he is struggling to keep on top of his homework.
I began by emailing her back with my thoughts. To summarise:
- He had mentioned being stressed about a Science exam, but felt he had it under control.
- He is exhibiting signs of happiness… he is loud in tutor group, smiles and laughs a lot.
- He is flourishing in my Drama class, is alert and focused.
- I thanked her for her email as her comments were concerning, especially the first one, which is at odds with his behaviour at school.
- I asked her if she wanted me to contact his teachers to see how he was doing in class, reassuring her I hadn’t had any concerns from teachers so far.
Following on from this, and with consultation from my Head of House and in agreement with his mum, I followed the following process:
- I emailed all of his academic teachers and his SEN coordinator to ask how he was doing in terms of academic and social progress in their areas. Most teachers reported he was doing well, with a few exceptions where behaviour was an issue. Most felt he was focused, responsive and keeping up. I reported all of this back to his mum and my HOH. I also contacted those teachers who he was struggling with and discussed some strategies that his mother and I had determined worked through his previous school, my Drama class and an intervention we had tried in Science earlier in the year when he was challenging the teacher.
- I spoke to him 1:1 in my tutor period with him that day. During his time with me he reported that he was happy. He admitted he finds starting homework hard, but that his mum motivates him and he didn’t feel he was falling behind. He felt he was doing well in class, could name four good friends, but says he ‘likes everyone’. He said that basketball is more challenging than last year, as last year was just for fun but says he is enjoying the step up.
- I spoke to his SEN coordinator and discussed with her his mums concerns re his ‘Pink sheet’ (a sheet which summarises his learning needs and recommendations for teachers) being out of date. This led to a really productive conversation between herself, his mum and me where his mum and I were able to address things on the sheet which were no longer relevant to his learning needs and more recent strategies which we knew were working.
Although his mum and I agree that we need to keep a close eye on him, due to his comments to her, we both feel that we have as much in place at school and home as we can currently to support his needs best. His mum is concerned that as he grows older he may struggle with addiction issues, which is serious so I have alerted my HOH to this, and both his mum and I have agreed to keep an eye out for any signs of this.