Posted by: christinelaennec | March 25, 2011

A change of direction

A beautiful coaster dreamed up and made by the Dafter

As regular readers will know, high school has not been easy for the Dafter.  A few weeks ago it became apparent that her self-belief and her happiness had all but disappeared.  She was suffering terribly, and learning very little.  A big part of the problem was bullying.

I also believe that part of the problem was that she happens to be in the first year of the implementation of the (blasted) Curriculum for Excellence.  Although secondary teachers in Scotland told the government that they weren’t anywhere near ready to implement it, for political reasons they were made to do so beginning last August.  The result, as far as we can see, has been unsettled and stressed staff, who are having to make things up as they go along.  The stress and feeling of uncertainty can’t help but be communicated to the pupils.  At one point they were told by their teachers, “Don’t ask us any more about it because we don’t know!”  They don’t know what form the 4th-year exams will take, and they are painfully feeling their way through the new subject-choice-in-1st-year at this very moment.  Since she moved up in August, we’ve been as involved as we could be, sitting on the school’s Parent Council and so forth – and yet for us there’s been an overwhelming feeling of going rapidly forward in the dark.

So we decided that we could no longer keep her there, although this meant giving up Gaelic in school.  We’ve spent a lot of time exploring all possibilities, and after several applications, visits and much soul-searching, she has been accepted at another school.  (Her new school is much smaller.  It has a workable anti-bullying policy and doesn’t seem so unsettled by the Curriculum for Excellence.)  Linda’s comment, “It is not time that your child can get back” was very helpful to us, because it’s true.  It gave us courage to take this step.

Gaelic will not be a thing of the past, however, as the Dafter has two friends who study Gaelic with a tutor, and she’s been invited to join in with them.

Isn’t it interesting what life throws at you?!



  1. My eldest son was bullied one year at school and I have always regretted not just pulling him until the school got their act together. In a way it was a similar situation, the classroom was in chaos because his teacher had cancer and they had different subs every week. Anyway, my best wishes for her and her fresh start at a new school!

    • Sigrid, thanks for your good wishes. I hope your son recovered well from his experience. I now feel like we waited far too long to take action – you want your child to learn to be resilient, you want to give things a chance, etc. However, it’s all a learning experience!

  2. As a teacher, this system makes me cringe. But, I do appreciate you not blasting the teachers. I, also, love Linda’s comment and whole-heartedly agree.

    • I feel very sorry for the teachers, and I now think it’s little wonder so very many of them are off work with stress. I hope that you have a good working environment even with governmental cuts and so forth. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I’m so happy for you all…hope the new school will be better for the Dafter and perhaps once Dafter can teach me Gaelic…
    Hugs for both of you

    • Thanks, Erna. Yes, we must arrange for some individual tuition “anns a’Ghàidhlig”!

  4. All the best as the Dafter goes to her new school; I’m happy for her.

    • Thank you so much, Timwa. Your understanding means a lot to us all!

  5. How good for your daughter that you are able to change direction. We have moved from a home education point of view to embracing Gaelic medium. You do what is best in the circumstances you find yourselves and sometimes it means giving up some ideals. It sounds as if she is very motivated to continue with the language. Xxx

    • We were very torn about leaving Gaelic-medium behind, although at secondary level in Aberdeen it is reduced to Gaelic as a subject, and nothing else is taught through Gaelic at the moment. Gaelic-medium was the best possible choice for our daughter and it has given our entire family so much. The children learn a lot about the traditions of Scotland – history, music, folklore, dance. And the chance to become bilingual opens so many avenues. But as you say, you have to make the best choice in any given situation, and make compromises. Gaelic will always be a big part of her identity and her life. Thanks so much for your vote of support!

  6. Yay! for you and best wishes to the Dafter. No school is perfect because they’re staffed and populated by us imperfect people, but it’s also quite clear that some schools develop their own culture that just don’t work for certain people. Good on you for biting the bullet and taking the leap of faith. I’m looking forward to reading about her adventures in this new environment. Sounds like she can’t be much worse off than the old school.

    • Thanks so much for the cheer, oldblack! As you say, no school is perfect and we’ve had a few talks about that with her. The same school can be great for one child and all wrong for another. No doubt there will be challenges at the new school, but I think she’ll be able to recover her balance and learn. Yes, I do feel as if we’ve taken a leap – but landed okay on the other side.

  7. So glad to hear this. And so fitting at this time of year when everything is renewing. Just so delighted for you all.

    • Thank you, Linda. And for your earlier inspiring comment.

  8. We have to do all we can for our children. Education in the U.S. is just as stressful for children. Bullying awareness has become a big deal – and hopefully the education campaigns about it will help. But, in the end if they were struggling I think I would search for a place that would not make my children so miserable, even if I had to keep them home for a bit.

    • Thank you, Lovely World. My brother-in-law works in a Middle School in the States, and their policy there is that the bully is removed! It is a very difficult problem to deal with. Yes, I agree with keeping them home if need be – but I’m glad that my daughter didn’t need to be even more isolated than she was already.

  9. Prayers for a smooth transition. A wise priest once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.” It takes courage to change directions.

    • Thank you so much, Kelly. What a great quote! (Was that from Father Dan?) The most difficult thing is to see clearly when you are pulled in different directions. Things like this are rarely black and white. But I know now that we’re doing the right thing.

  10. best wishes for your delightful daughter as she makes this transition. the colors in her artwork are really beautiful and i’m sure it reflects her personality. may she have more of that in her new school. i don’t envy you having to make that hard decision but as Kelly said above it takes courage so well done.

    • Thank you, thank you, ajb. I would never have believed, when I started this blog less than a year ago, how much comfort, friendship and good advice it would bring me! Yes, I think her colours will start to shine forth more brightly.

  11. All the best to your daughter as she navigates this new course.
    My daughter also lost all her self esteem through bullying, it is so tough to see them through it all.
    It sounds like everything is going to work out well for her now.
    These years are so important.

    • Dear Suzy,
      I hope your daughter has gotten her self-belief back. It is awful to watch. Thanks for your good wishes – I think it is going to work out well.

  12. Sounds like a very wise decision! Be proud of yourselves! 🙂

  13. Good luck with the new school and all the systems you have there.

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