Is DM being unreasonable or is this teacher?

(12 Posts)
coralpig Wed 09-Mar-16 15:37:12

Posting on DM's behalf because she doesn't have mumsnet but would like some perspectives.

Some background:
My brother is in year 6 and currently rehearsing for a big part in a west end show. He has been rehearsing for the last 2 months or so and is soon to start performing. My family are not based in London so he boards with a few other children, coming back to school about once a week. While away from the school he has a tutor. The school teacher sends a folder of work with him so that he can keep up to date with the class and this is brought back to school for marking when my brother comes home.

When he starts performing he will be at school around 2 days a week and will spend the rest of his time in London performing. This will be the case until September when he will start secondary school.

The headteacher is extremely supportive and has been very co-operative with the LEA and the theatre company. He has a licence from the LEA so absence is authorised. My brother works very hard and he consistently performs very well academically.

This is not the first time he has performed on a big show and spent a lot of year 4 touring in a big production. Again, there were no major issues and the teachers were great especially his form teacher. It was a big juggling act for my brother who worked really hard to keep up.

The theatre company emphasize that going back to school at least once a week while on a big show is very important so that the children retain links with their peer groups and also try to establish normality/a routine.

Over the last 3 or 4 weeks, my brother has been very unhappy on the school days and has begged not to have to go. He comes home from school upset and has asked 'not to go back to that school'. When we spoke to him to try to find out what's wrong he has said that he hates going because of one of his teachers (she teaches top set maths)- let's call her Mrs.D.

Mrs. F has been speaking to my brother every week, telling him that he's very academically bright and asking him, sometimes in front of the whole class why he's messing around with acting/the theatre. This is very upsetting for him and he has been trying to avoid her. On one occasion, there was a maths competition on a Saturday and she was asking children to volunteer, when she asked him he said "I'm sorry I have rehearsals" - she called him selfish and that he should be giving something back to the school.

We didn't know about this at all and when my mother found out she was livid. She wants to speak to the headteacher as he is normally very sociable and loves school. I'm worried it's my brother's word against a teachers and my mum's complaint won't be taken seriously.

My mother and I are obviously both biased but it's not in his nature to make something like this up and he normally loves school.

It's a private school (if that's at all relevant) and all fees have been paid even though he's so absent.
WWYD?

coralpig Wed 09-Mar-16 15:38:43

Sorry - Mrs.D/Mrs. F= same person. Got my letters confused.

ridemesideways Wed 09-Mar-16 15:42:00

I would support my mother in making a complaint. If it's been done in front of the class it'll be easy to verify. All bullying should be stopped in its tracks, not least when it's an adult doing it, and the parent is paying for his education.

Not complaining in case he isn't believed isn't a very assertive position OP. Poor kid.

OurBlanche Wed 09-Mar-16 15:42:56

I'd sit down with your mum and have a cup of tea brew and talk to her so she can calm down a little.

Then she should contact the HT and ask her to investigate why your DB is coming home in tears feeling embarrassed and ashamed of himself.. or similar.

I worked in a college that actively sought elite athletes. You would think that all staff would have realised, especially with the interview process being so focussed on supporting absent students, that many students would miss lessons to train/compete/ represent their country. But no... every year there would be at least one who made a formal complaint about one or another student who was making little effort due to there sporting activities.

Sometimes teachers just don't think things through!

GruntledOne Wed 09-Mar-16 15:46:40

I think you have to approach this initially on the basis that you are trying to find out what happened. Tell the HT that your brother is coming home upset after maths lessons with Mrs D and that it seems to be because she has an issue with his theatre work, say that you appreciate there might have been some miscommunication or misunderstanding and ask the Head to find out what happened. Also maybe investigate whether he can move into a different set for maths, at least temporarily.

lazyarse123 Wed 09-Mar-16 15:51:27

I would have a word with the headteacher as it does not sound as if your brother is the sort of child to make something like this up. If the headteacher is already being understanding and supportive of him i imagine she would look into it with an open mind. Good luck to your brother he sounds very talented.

RitaVinTease Wed 09-Mar-16 15:54:59

What a fantastic opportunity for him. Maybe he will make a career out of it. Maybe he will do something else.
Mrs F hasnt heard of any actors and thinks they come from someplace special?

I'd complain, whatever her Views she has no right to pick on him in front of the class in that way.

Cuttheraisins Wed 09-Mar-16 15:57:24

Yes support your mother and encourage her to have a word directly with head teacher. Your DB is clearly very talented bad he needs to be supported by the school. Maybe the teacher's tone is encouraging other children to not be nice to your brother. If the teacher is not respecting him, then other children might end up not respecting him either.

MadamDeathstare Wed 09-Mar-16 16:15:38

Does your mother know any of the other children in your DB's class well enough to ask them what has been said in front of the class and what their impression is? In that way you will have something to fall back on if the teacher tries to play the 'he's just an over sensitive artiste' card.

Yes your mother should go to the school. If she isn't comfortable asking the teacher 'You seem to have a problem with my DS's current career choice, why is that?' then she should talk to the Head.

squashtastic Wed 09-Mar-16 16:35:36

What should he be giving back to a school that he pays for the privilege to attend? hmm

GinandJag Wed 09-Mar-16 17:00:43

At this stage in his school career, you could ask for him to be moved to a different maths set.

Is he doing Common Entrance, and does he need to achieve something specific before leaving his prep school?

The teacher may consider her wording to be "banter" and mean nothing sinister. Obviously, your DB's perceptions and feelings are real and paramount. A quiet word from the head teacher or director of studies may be all that is needed to settle everything down. Either way, a meeting with the school is in order.

coralpig Wed 09-Mar-16 17:27:48

Thanks for the responses. He's already done his exams and passed - he did really well.
Difficult to speak to other children in the class but mum does know some of the parents. She's sent an email to the head and asked for an appointment to discuss

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