Oct 8, 2009

Your teen and education

How can we encourage our teens at school without putting them under too much pressure?

Teens are sometimes under a lot of pressure to perform well at school, and this can lead to anxiety and tension.

That's the bad news. The good news is that young people, on the whole, are getting better results year on year.

Year ten (ages 14-15) is seen by many as a watershed. If your teen gets through this year and is still motivated, enthusiastic and working well, she's more than likely to continue doing well.

For others, this is when difficulties and problems emerge.

Switching off

Some teenagers go off specific subjects; others go off school generally. If your child's struggling, you'll need to know exactly what it is she's struggling with.

If the trouble is with specific subjects, it may be she's fallen out with the teacher, is having difficulties with a part of the curriculum, or is just feeling she just can't do it.

Your teen may need help (if you know the subject, that's great; if you don't, there are lots of books available to help you get up to speed), or simply some encouragement.

How to help

If you get on well with your child, talk a lot and still enjoy each other's company, most problems will be relatively easy to overcome.

If, on the other hand, you can't discuss anything contentious without it turning into an argument, you might not be the best person to tackle the problem. Ask for help from someone your child likes and trusts, such as a teacher, relative or neighbour.

This is no time for pride, guilt or torture - the quicker the problem's resolved, the sooner your teenager can get back to her studies and you can stop worrying.

Teenagers who reject school

There are three main reasons why children skip school:

  • Something's going on, such as bullying, that makes them reluctant to attend
  • They're not coping with their subjects or they're not being stretched enough
  • Emotional worries make school seem irrelevant
It's vital to establish the cause and take steps to resolve it before your teen's future is seriously affected.

Exclusion and expulsion

Schools have the right to exclude a young person who's been in serious trouble. In most cases this is for a fixed period, such as three or five days.

The school must always phone parents, then follow up with a letter if a child is to be excluded. Letters should also be sent to the local education authority to explain why the school has enforced the exclusion.

Remember these points:

  • Parents have the right to appeal to the head teacher and governors if they don't think exclusion is fair.
  • A temporarily excluded child isn't allowed on the school premises and should be given school work to do at home.
  • Permanent exclusion - expulsion - is a last resort and is likely to follow a number of fixed exclusions. A discipline committee should meet to discuss the decision. If it agrees to the permanent exclusion, you have 15 days in which to appeal.
Exclusion from school is obviously very serious. Once a teenager is excluded she's more likely to get into further trouble, and this can be difficult to deal with.

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