to think that at Parents Evening there should be enough time slots

(57 Posts)

for all pupils. How can they justify giving a science teacher 25 time slots when they teach 90 pupils? This year is the first time I have managed to see my daughters science and english teachers in 3 years! I know that 90 pupils is a lot to teach, but there must be a way of getting round this.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Thu 07-Feb-13 09:51:38

You're right 25 mins is far too long for an individual appointment and there should be enough slots for everyone who wants them. Can you contact form tutor and ask for appointments at a different time for those teachers who can't fit you in. They might find an extra few at parents' evening if you do that smile

SuffolkNWhat Thu 07-Feb-13 10:00:53

I am aware how annoying this can be but you do realise that teachers do not dictate the slots and often have to push in extras before the start of the evening and then see those parents who couldn't make it another time.

I teach over 300 pupils, I would never see my family if I had to accommodate all but those who definitely needed to come in and see me.

That said 25 minutes is a huge amount of time, ours are 10 minutes and even then we over run by a lot.

countrykitten Thu 07-Feb-13 10:02:03

Er - think you may have the wrong end of the stick there ghoul!

OP - just contact the school and ask to see them on a different occasion if you can't get an appt. I often see parents 'out of hours' as it were to discuss things.

DS1's school has a system where you just get to see his form teacher who reads of a sheet and generally talks shit that I have to correct them about. It's all a bit meaningless.

NB. Shit here means 'Actually Wrong In Factual Terms', rather than 'they criticised my PFB'.

Not 25 minute slots, 25 5 minute slots! grin sorry if I didn't make it clear. I do understand that it's difficult but it's very frustrating as the parent of a child who has been underperforming (apparently) and it's the first I've heard of it as I haven't been able to see the teacher for the past 2 years! The only reports we have are a whole page of numbers relating to effort, concentration etc and a row of = - and + signs! bah!

SuffolkNWhat Thu 07-Feb-13 10:08:26

Ah I see! blush

In that case YANBU and I would be making a separate appointment to dicuss in more detail with the teacher without them having a queue of other parents waiting at their door.

Sorry for the misunderstanding!

gazzalw Thu 07-Feb-13 10:10:52

Certainly it's frustrating but short of extending parents' evenings to two evenings, I can't see any way round it. I seem to recall at DS's first Year 7 parents' evening we only got four 'slots' with teachers despite the fact that he has at least ten subjects and we were supposed to get six....

It's certainly not good if your child has 'issues' which need discussion with relevant teacher(s)....

Maybe it's just the super-selectives which operate like this, but thus far I know how my DS is doing in relation to his peers (he's holding his own at the moment) but I have absolutely no idea how he has viewed as a person!!!

DisAstrophe Thu 07-Feb-13 10:16:04

That does seem like v few appointments for so many kids. But if you've had concerns for two years why haven't you arranged to see/phone the teacher on a different day?

countrykitten Thu 07-Feb-13 10:22:22

gazzalw - only having the option to see 6 subject teachers out of ten is poor and would not happen where I teach (super selective and independent). Be a bit pushy and ask to see staff of you need to - we don't mind!

DisAstrophe I didn't have any concerns, that was my point, they hadn't told me of any issues and I wasn't given a chance to ask because i couldn't get an appointment before. The teachers in our local comp don't take kindly to being asked for a chat outside of parents evenings, I've tried in the past. I don't see why they can't have more than evening set aside anyway. School finishes at 2.30 or 3, depending on the day of the week so why can't they have appointments then?

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Thu 07-Feb-13 11:08:03

Sorry justforlaughs - your post is perfectly clear, just me that can't read blush

Still think they should fit you in at another time if they can't get you all in on the night.

noblegiraffe Thu 07-Feb-13 11:12:20

I'm a maths teacher with a similar number of appointments available and it is very rare that all my appointments are booked. It would be a bit unfair to make my science colleagues do an extra parents evening (and impossible anyway because of directed time) simply because they teach more students.
Is it your DS's responsibility to make appointments? I wonder if he hasn't been as quick off the mark as he should have been because he knew he hasn't been doing as well as he might.
If you can't get an appointment then you should be able to speak to the teacher another time. A phonecall or via email would be better than trying to arrange a face to face meeting.

Myliferocks Thu 07-Feb-13 11:12:27

We've just had parents evening for 3 of our children who go to the same school. There was 6 nights to choose from and the times were either 4.30-7 or 5.30-8 depending which night you picked.

Myliferocks Thu 07-Feb-13 11:13:33

Posted too soon.

Appointments were in 5 minute slots.

Sugarice Thu 07-Feb-13 11:18:20

I don't get worked up about parents evening appointments anymore.

If DS3 can't get the important subjects a decent time I email the teacher and get a brief written report back. Problem solved and no faffing about in the hall waiting to dive onto a poor unsuspecting teacher nibbling on her biscuit!.grin

Budgiegirlbob Thu 07-Feb-13 11:19:38

Just be a bit pushy! My DS came home and told us that he wasn't able to get an appointment with his English teacher as all the slots were taken. I emailed his teacher and she offered to see us either before parents evening started, or she would phone us.
Some teachers also would not make an appointment for children who were doing ok, reserving the appointments for those who's parents it was important they see. In this case, they signed my DS appointment sheet to say they had no issues, but if we really we felt needed to see them, the teacher would be available early, or would phone.
There is a limit to how many parents a teacher can see, but we found most to flexible if needed.

noblegiraffe, I assume that both you and your science teaching collegue teach the same number of pupils overall, so if YOU teach more year 7's and HE teaches more year 10's, for example I would expect that you would be available for all your year 7 pupils while he would be available for all of his year 10's. Same amount of time, just at different times.
myliferocks are your children in primary school or the comp? We always had a choice of evenings in the primary, but not once they reach comp age (which is frustrating as I work evenings anyway - but that's not their fault).

Myliferocks Thu 07-Feb-13 11:22:38

They are at a middle school so years 5 to 8.

complexnumber Thu 07-Feb-13 11:28:10

I know it must be frustrating to not see those teachers you would like to, but please bear in mind that if the teacher was to set aside time to see each of his 90 pupils, that would amount to 4.5 hours.

Teachers of other subjects may well teach more than 90 (Suffolk mentioned 300, that would be 25 hours solid!)

I think hours spent addressing Parent's evenings are part of a teacher's contractual duty. To ask to see them at other times would be outside their obligation.

It also raises another issue, would you expect teachers of certain subjects to spend more time at parent's evenings than teachers of other subjects?

noblegiraffe Thu 07-Feb-13 11:30:03

justforlaughs no, we don't teach the same number of students overall. Maths is timetabled more often than other subjects so I see the same students for more lessons than other subjects who will see more students for fewer lessons. Subjects that aren't timetabled very often like RE or ICT see way more students than your typical maths teacher. I can teach at most two classes of Y7 and Y8 and only one class of Y9, 10 and 11 as they are all timetabled at the same time for setting purposes.

Mumsyblouse Thu 07-Feb-13 13:03:48

I think hours spent addressing Parent's evenings are part of a teacher's contractual duty. To ask to see them at other times would be outside their obligation.

Wow, if my university students (or even their parents) ask to see me, I am available, outside my designated office hours. Surely teaching isn't a work-to-rule job (or are you on a work-to-rule strike or something)?

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 13:08:45

How do you know he's under performing?

I DID see her science teacher this year and was told that DD wasn't doing as well as she should be and isn;t doing her homework. As she went into the school an "exceptional" student in science, was achieving level 7's and 8's in year 7 and shows an interest in science topics at home, is still achieving well in every other subject but now is apparently only achieving level 5's in science (3 years of the same teacher), I am of the opinion that either the teacher is failing somewhere or that, as my DD says, she has got her confused with another pupil which apparently happens regularly! (The teacher thinks they look alike!) I'd be a lot less bothered if my DD didnt want to sit the triple science papers for GCSE (as she wanted to be a GP) and we have been told that that isn't an option now, but it's kind of getting off the thread.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 13:22:43

Bloodyhell, justfor laughs, I would be camping outside the head teacher's office I were you! That's outrageous!

Can you get your dd to bring her science book home, so you can check on the home work thing for a start? It does sound like a mistake- but you need to sort it quickly.

Flisspaps Thu 07-Feb-13 13:23:22

mumsy there is a work-to-rule action at the moment, instead of all-out strike action.

LoopsInHoops Thu 07-Feb-13 13:23:43

Imagine.

You teach 90 year 7s. They are little, look the same and none particularly stand out. As well as that, you teach 60 year 8s, 60 year 9s, 50 year 10s and 25 year 11s.

Can you see how easy it is to get the little darlings mixed up? All secondary teachers have done this at some point, I'm sure.

Ladymuck Thu 07-Feb-13 13:27:09

I keep on hoping to meet a teacher who didn't know who ds1 is.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Thu 07-Feb-13 13:28:06

That sounds very worrying. So your daughter may have lost ability in the last 3 years and cannot do the subject she needs for her chosen career? And the teacher may have mixed her up with another pupil? I think I"d be booking a much longer appointment with the teacher to discuss this.

seeker Thu 07-Feb-13 13:29:22

There were 3 red haired Grace's in dd year 7 class. The maths teacher actually had photos to show us to make sure he was talking about the right one......!

nokidshere Thu 07-Feb-13 13:33:45

We have ours tonight. There are 10 minute slots available but not for everyone. I haven't been able to get slots for Maths or English this time but since he has to do those subjects anyway (its options week) we concentrated on getting slots for the subjects he wants to choose.

I would be horrified though if I only heard my child was having problems at school on parents evening! I would expect to be phoned/written to as soon as problems occured and not once a year!!!!

longingforsomesleep Thu 07-Feb-13 13:33:54

We're always given a list of teachers and subjects and asked to indicate which ones we want to see, listing them in order of preference. We usually get to see about 4 which has always annoyed me. But this year I am furious. DS has to choose his AS options by Monday and is having trouble choosing. He has parents' eve today so we asked to see abut 7 teachers - all in subjects he is thinking of doing. We've got the usual 4 appointments - none of which were our first few choices. I wanted DS and I to be able to talk to teachers together - not for him to go and see them at break (as a couple have suggested) and not for them to ring to just discuss with me.

It's such a crucial point in their school lives I really think they could be a bit more forthcoming.

ll31 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:36:44

In ds school, kids go to meetings too. No appts , just q for various teachers , open for 3-4 hrs, woprked fine!

soverylucky Thu 07-Feb-13 13:38:31

Firstly I will always answer an email or telephone call from a parent. I have never heard of any colleague refusing to do this.
It is a shame to see the same old comment about teachers finishing at three etc

noblegiraffe Thu 07-Feb-13 13:42:56

longing, Y11 parents evening really isn't the place to be discussing A-level options, it is supposed to be discussing GCSE progress. While I agree that your school's system for allocating appointments is terrible, this is completely separate to the issue of the options decision which he should have been discussing with his teachers well in advance. Didn't you have a sixth form evening for this?

londongirlatheart Thu 07-Feb-13 13:57:59

Wish there were more teachers like you Lucky. Parents evening was three months ago and I am still chasing feedback from teachers who I didn't see.

Pilgit Thu 07-Feb-13 14:13:13

Sovery - I don't think the point was that teachers finish at three but that classes do so the teacher has more control of their time and so could fit them in at another time.

nokidshere Thu 07-Feb-13 14:20:52

In our school there is no-one answering the phone after the end of the school day (3:10) so even if you wanted to call a teacher the chances of getting through to one would be minimal!

noblegiraffe Thu 07-Feb-13 14:37:56

Some parents also seem to forget that teachers don't have phones in their classrooms. If someone phoned the school asking me to ring back, then what would happen is that a message would be put in my pigeon hole in the staffroom. I usually check my pigeonhole in the morning so I wouldn't get the message till the next day, then if I'm teaching all day and have a meeting after school the parent might not get a call back till the day after.
If they email the school, I see it much sooner. They are more likely to get a quick response too, as I can email from my desk whereas phoning requires a trip down to the office.

countrykitten Thu 07-Feb-13 14:57:24

Bloody hell! Which schools finish at 2.30pm??? That is a half day! We don't finish teaching until 4pm.

I am not aware of a single teacher who sticks to the 'work to rule' thing - the ones I know are incredibly dedicated and hardworking and see parents as part of the team needed to keep the pupils progressing well academically so they would always make time to see them.

Agree with noblegiraffe that email is a really good way of getting a quick response too - much faster than a phone call.

Groovee Thu 07-Feb-13 15:21:17

My friend was told a couple of weeks ago by her dd that 3 teachers couldn't see her mum at parents night, on parents night, my friend saw the 3 of them free between appointments and found out that her daughter had frequently not handed in homework despite never going out and that she wasn't heading well towards the exams.

Meanwhile my daughter's school has sent me a letter of concern because she hasn't sat a reading test this month because the book she chose was 800 pages long compared to the usual 200-300 books she normally is allocated.

Teachers don't have phones in their classrooms plus parents need to call the school during lesson time as due to cutbacks the receptionists finish immediately school does.

The teachers are most likely still in their classrooms but there's no one to answer the school phone.

We've encountered a similar issue, asked to see 10 teachers, can see 5. However the teacher I really wanted to see and couldnt was really accommodating when I sent in a little note asking to have a five minute phone conversation instead. It was actually much better as we could talk honestly without dd being there!

GreatUncleEddie Thu 07-Feb-13 15:29:12

If there is a problem you should have net the teacher before now, tbh. Oh - you have! What's the problem again?

On another point - I take a passport photo when mine are in year 7. Obviously i hide it for the form teacher and the staff who have the kids three times every week. But the ones who teach the whole of year seven, once a week, I have it out for, just in case. After that the teachers teach fewer kids and have got to know them a bit better. I hope I don't offend anyone.

EssexGurl Thu 07-Feb-13 15:32:51

Friends of mine who are teachers - even at primary - have always commented on how often parents don't bother attending. Not the case at my DS's primary as uber-competitive parenting going on. But from what I gather it is the norm for some parents not to bother. So, school have probably worked out the likely up-take (particularly for secondary) and so planned accordingly.

countrykitten Thu 07-Feb-13 17:49:24

GUE - that is a brilliant idea and I think really helpful to teachers who would not be in the least offended I am sure.

Essex - I have worked in a few really challenging state schools where this was the case- and often the more you needed to see the parent, the less likely they were to turn up. Tells its own story really....

bluer Thu 07-Feb-13 20:30:08

We have a working time agreement you know...that allocates the number of contractual hours you are supposed to work in a year, it includes 6 2.5 hour parents nights, department and staff meetings etc. I don't think that you can reasonably expect someone to see ninety parents in an evening and the fact is teacher contracts are the same so whilst a lot of subjects only see one class a year some see several and I don't know how you could all them to do extra time. I would always offer a phone call etc of needed but I can usually fit appointments in. what annoys me is parent ego don't turn up...my last appointment tonight didn't even though the pupil confirmed when I asked today. I end up waiting around just in case which is frustrating and so rude of them. Ooh and you never get to see the parents you'd like to...

HollyBerryBush Thu 07-Feb-13 20:37:17

I far prefer my sons school - you get 6 appointments for 16 subjects. So you pick the subjects no one wants - then the core subjects phone you if there is a concern.

Much better, in and out in 1/2 hour.

I always work on the theory no news is good news grin

McNewPants2013 Thu 07-Feb-13 20:40:51

I think the best way is to allocate the time slots is see the parents of children who are struggling or who are having problems.

I think it is a waste of time to go to parents evening, unless there is a problem.

poppypebble Thu 07-Feb-13 20:47:55

Timely subject as I'm just in from a parents evening. We have two for each year group, meaning 14 over the course of the academic year. For some year groups I teach 150 pupils - even with two evenings it isn't happening, so I have to prioritise.

Our system involves parents sitting at a desk whilst we teachers walk around - there are no appointments but parents are sometimes told that they won't be seeing a particular teacher because they haven't got time. Maximum I can see is 36 in a night, so 72 across the year group.

Tonight however, Year 11 parents evening. Just 28 in the class so no problem seeing them. However I sat around for most of the evening as only 15 parents bothered to turn up.

IAmLouisWalsh Thu 07-Feb-13 21:03:06

We have scrapped traditional parents' evenings. Instead, parents get a twenty to thirty minute slot with form tutor, who has all the information from all teachers about the child, including specific advice on improvements.

We do this for two days every year - appointments available from 7am to 7pm, but parents can negotiate with tutors to suit. We collapse the timetable on those days and do enrichment and sports so pupils can attend the appointments with their parents.

It works for us. Very, very few complaints.

countrykitten Fri 08-Feb-13 08:38:01

We did this at a school I worked at. It was ok but imo parents need specialist input at GCSE level and beyond not a form tutor sitting in front of a pile of grades and trying to sound knowledgeable about Bio when they are a Drama teacher!

So a good idea for Lower School but not for Y10 and beyond - the school I worked at soon cottoned on to this and it all worked much better after that.

One of the secondary schools I work with, has a progress day for form tutors. The whole school is taken off timetable, and then form tutors are a available for parent meetings from 10am until 7pm. The meetings last around half an hour and any issues concerning individual subjects are discussed as well as personal development. If there are concerns in subject areas, the form tutor will follow this up with the relevant staff member, and the parents concerns addressed.
Students are expected to come in with parents, and it tends to be really well attended.
Additionally they have traditional parent evenings scheduled by year group. The parents' feedback on this is overwhelmingly positive.

This is a school in an area of deprivation and disadvantage and recently Ofsted rated 4. They are working very hard to improve and this is the 3rd year of this popular scheme

noblegiraffe Fri 08-Feb-13 10:45:23

My school also does progress days with the tutor and parents evenings with the teacher. Initially people were very sceptical about the tutor meetings but they are very good for discussing the student's overall school experience, including suggestions for extra curricular activities, how to approach revision, whether organisation is an issue and friendship issues.
I wouldn't want to lose the subject teacher evenings though, I think they are important too.

DDs school has learning development meetings with tutors. However, in the 11 years worth of them they've done, none of them have been of any use whatsoever. In DD2s case, the tutor didn't bother turning up for her last one shock.

We do have traditional parents evenings though which are a bit of a scrum, but I've always managed to see the teachers I needed to (apart from one, but he was off ill, so that's allowed I think wink)

IAmLouisWalsh Fri 08-Feb-13 17:53:14

It needs managing carefully - but all of our tutors are paid to be tutors, if that make sense, and it is their first responsibility, so they need to know exactly what is going on at GCSE level in all subjects. Very few parents ever feel the need to see a specialist teacher. We have vertical tutor groups, too, so the relationship between parents and tutors develops over the five years, and often families are together, so Y11 and Y7 siblings in same group, same tutor.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 08-Feb-13 18:07:40

At DDs school the pupil has to organise booking slots - 5 mins with 5 mins between each to get between them (the teachers don't get the breaks, obv). Even so, do the maths... if the parent's evening lasts 3 hours that's 36 slots so its fine if they've got one set in that year, hopeless if they have 3 sets. DDs chemistry teacher has told the ones who are doing well not to book slots - which is fine - and is also staying in school between end of school day and start of parents evening to see any parents who can make it then. Sounds shattering!

After yr7 the pupils come to parent's evening too, good way to avoid confusion!

OP, hope you can get what's happened straightened out -that doesn't sound good.

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