To think this head teacher has no idea about children

(44 Posts)
reallyshakenup Fri 11-Jul-14 14:03:58

My dd goes to a nursery attached to a school. She along with all the other children at this nursery are starting school in September. Last month we got letters telling us which class our children would be in (there are two classes in reception). I assumed all the nursery children would be put in one class together. This is what has happened in the past and it's worked well.

However, the new head teacher has decided it would be a good idea to put 17 out of the 20 nursery children into class x and 3 including my dd into class y. The remaining numbers will be made up from children coming into the school who never attended the nursery.

I am furious. My dd has been separated from all her friends and put into a class where effectively she knows no other children. We have had 2 meet the teacher sessions and she doesn't understand why all her friends go off into a classroom and she is in a class with children she doesn't know. She's been really upset by it all. She is only just 4 and has really bonded with about 5 other little girls from her nursery and now they are all together and she is on her own.

I spoke to the family liaison officer at the school about this and she said the head teacher made the decision to do this and she didn't understand the reasoning behind it. She made lots of sympathetic noises but said my dd cannot be put into the other class. She said she had gone into the classroom settling in session to check on my dd and found her upset saying she wanted to be with her friends.

I have asked to meet the head teacher to discuss the rationale behind her decision to put 17 out of 20 nursery children into one class rather than a more even split (if splitting the nursery children up is her aim) but she refuses to discuss it with me, has ignored my emails and won't let the office staff put my telephone calls through to her.

I am sure dd will make new friends but AIBU to wonder why the head teacher has done this? All I can think of is that she wants to split the children up but what's wrong with little children starting school stay with some of their friends?

Icimoi Fri 11-Jul-14 14:12:25

I see your point, but I wouldn't worry about it too much. At this age children make friends very quickly. When my ds started he knew no-one but settled in within a very short time.

BrokenButNotFinished Fri 11-Jul-14 14:13:51

I think it would be reasonable to do a more even split between the two classes. 17:3 seems a bit odd. My daughter's school has a nursery and they did separate friends who I think they felt were a bit TOO reliant on each other, but they still had other people in the class they knew. The doors between the reception classes were open, also, so at times they could come and go as they wanted - and they were mixed according to ability for reading / phonics part of the way through the year. So they did get an opportunity to mingle.

Thing is, my experience is that once the class decision is made, they are very unlikely to go back on it. And your daughter will make new friends and it will be fine. The first few weeks might be a bit rough, but then it will be fine. As long as you are open to getting to know other families too.

More concerning is the fact that your relationship with the Head is in a flimsy state already... You've got a long way to go in the school and you would think that she would want to allay your concerns at this point. That bit doesn't inspire confidence. Do people generally consider her to be approachable and engaged with parents...?

ReallyTired Fri 11-Jul-14 14:16:36

I agree that the head should have split the class more evenly. Otherwise it feels as if the three children from nursery are being singled out. If the head will not have a discussion with you about the classes then you have the right to complain to the board of govenors.

However I am sure your daughter will make plenty of friends. If its a state school there will be 27 new children coming in.

FatalCabbage Fri 11-Jul-14 14:18:37

Putting them all together would be ridiculous. Splitting them fairly evenly would be sensible. 17/3 is as bad as 20/0 IMHO.

There might be some very clever algorithm behind the scenes matching numbers of "has/has not been in preschool setting" and "early/late birthdays" and "boys/girls" etc. I think you're making a lot of assumptions.

And furious? Really? Do you want to be "that parent"?

whattheseithakasmean Fri 11-Jul-14 14:21:25

My main concern would be that the head teacher will not speak to you - I think that is very poor. I expect head teachers to find time to speak to parents, I would not want to send my child to a school where the HT was so inaccessible to parents.

reallyshakenup Fri 11-Jul-14 14:23:14

fatalcabbage What do you mean by "that parent" if you mean caring about my child and wanting her to be happy and settled in school, well yes I suppose I am. I would rather be that sort of parent rather than one who doesn't give a damn.

Sisyphus85 Fri 11-Jul-14 14:24:06

17 out of 20 in one class does seem odd - but I can understand the HT's wish to mix the nursery and new joiners together.

Have there been any behavioral or social issues with your DD that might have prompted it?

BrokenButNotFinished Fri 11-Jul-14 14:24:52

Exactly.

I don't know what the problem is with being 'that parent'. People are giving over their children into the care of someone else. Just because it's a state organisation and the majority of people do it doesn't mean that they shouldn't answer to you.

reallyshakenup Fri 11-Jul-14 14:28:35

No, no behavioural issues with my dd or the other 2 children separated from their peers. The nursery staff are confused as to why the head has done this as well.

Tortoiseturtle Fri 11-Jul-14 14:28:35

They have probably based the split on children's ability - trying to have a similar number of high and lower ability kids in each class. Does seem odd though. Don't like the sound of the head at all.

DeWee Fri 11-Jul-14 14:33:51

It may be random. Our infant school used to sort the children into boys in age order, girls in age order and go 1,2,1,2, down the list.

The catchment children predominently come from 2 preschools (about half the children). It frequently happened that there was an inbalance in the classes, in who came from which preschool.
One year class 1 had all except 1 from preschool A, and class 2 had all except 1 from preschool B.
The parents' of the children on their own, one said it was the best thing that happened to her (fairly shy) dd-she gelled really quickly with her class and made (15 years later) lasting friendships that have survived going to different schools from juniors.
The other said it was a rough first term, but then they settled.

If I look at my dc's classes at that time:
Dd1: all except 2 from her preschool went into one class. That meant (I think) 9 out of 13 girls came from the same preschool.
Dd2: All the bossy, dominant girls got put in one class, and all the quiet shy girls were in another. But the preschools were fairly well mixed.
Ds: There seemed to be a fairly good mix.*

*they may have deliberately mixed them as there was a different head, who may have not done it the way it was done for the first two.

Sisyphus85 Fri 11-Jul-14 14:34:14

[head scratching emoticon]

Don't see how it can be streaming when they can't judge the new joiners... and if no behavioral reason...

nope - no ideas.

BrokenButNotFinished Fri 11-Jul-14 14:36:19

Tortoise: that doesn't make sense, though. Surely then they would do an even split? They can't know the ability of the children coming in, either. And statistically it's unlikely that the nursery children are - all but three - going to be oldest in the year.

I would say it's a concern, too, that the nursery staff are prepared to talk about the Head like that. Shows a lack of solidarity.

OwlCapone Fri 11-Jul-14 14:40:15

TBh, I agree with splitting them up between the classes but it should be an even split. The nursery classes have always been split between the three reception ones at our school, with friendship groups being split if the consensus is that they are not positive. Both DS2 and DD were split up from their close friendship group and both made lots of new friends as well as having friends in the other classes.

Sisyphus85 Fri 11-Jul-14 14:40:56

I just worked it out - the chances at random of a 17 - 3 split is 1.087%... so very unlikely.

Sirzy Fri 11-Jul-14 14:43:04

I think 10 - 10 would have been the most sensible split. Leaving them all together is as daft as just separating a few of them.

redskybynight Fri 11-Jul-14 14:43:18

I agree that it's odd to split 17/3. Is it possible that the split has been purely done to have a spread of age/gender and whoever did it has not even considered where they went to pre-school?

But, OP, it sounds like your main grip is that DD has been split up from her friends? So if the split was 10/10 but DD's friends were still all in the other class you wouldn't be happy? this is something that happened to one of DD's friends at school - she quickly made a new friend whilst still playing with her old ones.

How is the year group structured? At the DC's school, in Reception they did all activities across the year group and in ability based groups for things like reading and phonics teaching. If you have similar set up, it is largely irrelevant what class your DC is in.

cricketpitch Fri 11-Jul-14 14:53:11

This happened to us and I was pretty upset and appealed to the head who explained that many, many factors are involved in the decision making process, (as other posters have said). Other mothers were in a rage that friendships had been split or worse that "friendships" had not been split where they really wanted their DC to get a chance to develop away from another child.

The nursery staff were sympathetic and "agreed" with everyone - not their fight. In the end it was fine. My DD settled quickly, the classes gelled and by Christmas it was great, They also had strong links between the classes which made for a more unified reception intake.

Had it been split 50/50 there would have been other problems, (old/young, Boy/ Girl imbalances etc).

As for being "That Parent" - WE ALL care about our kids. WE ALL want the best - but that doesn't mean we have to argue every point with the head. Trust the Head, trust your DD - she may love it.

BloominNora Fri 11-Jul-14 14:56:06

It sounds unfair, but to be honest, I would let the split thing go, and explain to your daughter that she will make new friends and see her old friends at break time etc.

However on saying that, I would be absolutely furious that the head teacher has refused to speak to you about it and I wouldn't let that go.

I would therefore write again to the head and state that you wish to have a conversation with her about it so that you can understand the rationale, that you are not happy that she has not responded to your multiple attempts to meet and that if she does not arrange to have a face to face discussion with you about it by COP Tuesday of next week, you will be raising the issue of her lack of communication formally through the Board of Governors.

Be clear that it is now her lack of communication that is annoying you rather than the class split and it is that which you will be taking to the governors.

She is clearly hoping that if she dodges a meeting with you before the end of term, the issue will have gone away by the time the schools go back in September.

HappyAgainOneDay Fri 11-Jul-14 14:58:24

Could the division of nursery intake be something to do with the children who did not attend the nursery at that school?

rowna Fri 11-Jul-14 15:03:07

Our school paid no attention at all to existing friendships when they decided on the class split at the start of reception. They do adapt quite quickly. It's something we have to get used to at our school - they mix the classes up every year.

On the whole I have come round to thinking it's good as it forces them to learn to make new friends, rather than just sticking with one or two all the way through school.

Salmotrutta Fri 11-Jul-14 15:05:38

The split thing may a bit unfair on the face of it but I'd say this is your opportunity to speak to your child about how she will see her friends at break/make lots of new friends/ enjoy meeting new people etc.

The Head refusing to speak to you is the thing I'd be angry about as that is pretty crappy PR.

Salmotrutta Fri 11-Jul-14 15:09:35

It could be that the Head has had multiple parents (from nursery and feeder primary schools) requesting various class splits/combinations and he/she has wrestled it this way and that and come up with a compromise?

Still not good communication though.

queenofthemountain Fri 11-Jul-14 15:12:59

I think it is because it would be daunting to the new children to be put into a class where there are already friendship groups, so they have put them all in the same class. and then taken another 3 to equalise the numbers.
At that age she will be fine.The new starters won't know anyone either.Maybe they think your DD is a good mixer

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