to think that teachers should wait to see all parents even if they are running late

(70 Posts)

I went to my 14 yo DS2's parents evening last week, we had to book appointments online but teachers were over-running by quite a bit. I went to my 6.05 appointment but she was busy, with people waiting, I returned to my 5.55 appointment (who was running late), waited a bit longer, returned to the 6.05 - still busy, back and forth, managed to see my 6.20 appointment but when I went back to 6.05 she had gone home. Now I know that parents evening is supposed to finish at 6.30 but she must have gone out of the door as if there was a rocket up her a***! and I still haven't managed to get hold of her to find out how DS2 is doing. I took an evening off work so I could find out how he is getting on in school and it wasn't MY fault that teachers weren't running to time. In fact it took 2 hours for me to see 6 teachers! AIBU to think she should have checked whether I had signed back out before leaving.

Oh god, I have this later tonight. 8 teachers I have appts for. And that's not all the teachers my DD has. I tried to cut it down a bit.

I agree that the teacher shouldn't have gone like that. If you were shuttling backwards and forwards surely she would have clocked you were there.

exoticfruits Tue 23-Apr-13 16:07:41

Phone up the school and ask to speak to her.

Pozzled Tue 23-Apr-13 16:09:09

When I saw your thread title, I was ready to say Yabu, but actually I don't think you are. If the teacher knew you were there, and wanted to see her,

meditrina Tue 23-Apr-13 16:11:58

There should be no need for them to stick around, because there should be a system which ensures time-keeping. Ours is like speed dating - bell every 5 minutes and move on. They need to rethink how they run the sessions - perhaps you could find the constructive way to suggest this?

Bloody annoying that you were frustrated at every turn, but also unfair to single out one teacher (who may have had good reasons for prompt departure) when it's the whole set up that needs an overhaul so it's not wrecked by overrunning.

handcream Tue 23-Apr-13 16:12:02

In our school each parent has 5 mins and literally a bell sounds and there are 'helpers' who move you out of your chair to ensure that no one falls behind. I have seen some parents getting ready for a good old chat to find they only have 5 mins (which is plastered all over the website and letters sent home).

If you want longer you need to make a seperate appointment.

Not for everyone but it does work!

Pozzled Tue 23-Apr-13 16:12:56

Sorry, posted too soon...

If the teacher knew you wanted to see her, she should really have waited. However, she may have had to rush off to collect children or whatever. I would try to make phone contact, or send a note in asking how your DS is doing.

FreyaSnow Tue 23-Apr-13 16:13:10

Parents' evenings, at secondary school, are not long enough for all the parents to see all the teachers, in my experience. They need to hold them on more evenings so there is more time.

ArtemisatBrauron Tue 23-Apr-13 16:14:05

Maybe she has her own children to collect or cook dinner for and had to leave at the agreed time... teachers are people too!

Tailtwister Tue 23-Apr-13 16:22:04

If she knew you were there she should have waited. It's her responsibility to see everyone who made an appointment and if she's running late for whatever reason then it's not an excuse to just get up and leave. Maybe she does have things to do at home, but parents' evenings are part of the job and she should have made provision for her own family. Surely she knows these things run late most of the time and if she was sensible should have taken that into account.

knittingirl Tue 23-Apr-13 16:23:31

Did she know you were there and wanted to see her? If so, then maybe yanbu. If she hadn't seen you, then I think yabu as there are parents who don't show to parents evening and teachers can't just hang out waiting in case they come.

From the wife of a teacher who has parents evening tonight, and really hopes that he's not massively late home as we have other things to get done.

I signed in (as we have to) and hadn't signed out so I was obviously still there. She must have seen me looking through the door (looking very harrassed) and she hasn't returned my calls or replied to my email. I'm just feeling very frustrated as my DS has told me that he is struggling. We have also suggested on several occassions that they implement a bell system or other way of ensuring better time keeping. I've also suggested a way of marking on the teachers time sheet that we are there but running late. The school ignores all suggestions - thank goodness there is a new head teacher in September!

mummytime Tue 23-Apr-13 16:46:31

For my DDs last progress monitoring, someone set off the fire alarm in the middle. Made everything even later than normal.

I did get to see everyone I was supposed to, however we're still dealing with the fall out. Two subjects had less than ideal teachers, one gave bad news with no prior warning and the other seemed incompetent (fortunately the school is very good and we now have the heads of departments and a head of year involved).

mummytime Tue 23-Apr-13 16:47:06

Oh OP YANBU, in the circumstances.

soverylucky Tue 23-Apr-13 16:47:21

It depends how late you were for the appointment. I have had parents sign in and not turn up for their appointment. I have assumed that they were somewhere in the building trying to see another teacher and have waited and waited and waited. Turns out that they went home without seeing me as they had somewhere else they needed to be.

When did you call or email her? I think it is reasonable to wait 24 hours for a reply. Any longer than that is not on (although she may be part time and not in school)

I hope that you get something sorted op.

manicinsomniac Tue 23-Apr-13 16:49:48

YANBU at all. She must have known that she was seeing, for example, her 5.30 at 5.55 so must have known that her 5.35-5.55 were around and would miss out.

Completely out of order

soverylucky parents evening was last Wednesday and I rang on Thursday. I emailed on the weekend. I was also outside the door at 6.32, so given that the evening was supposed to finish at 6.30 I wouldn't count it as "waiting and waiting".

Blissx Tue 23-Apr-13 17:17:00

I'd be more annoyed that they have not replied to your emails or telephone calls. I wonder if they are off sick and perhaps contacting Head of Year or Head of Department might help.
I agree it is annoying. On the flip side, it is also annoying when a parent leaves without signing out and I'm there, waiting for them 7:30 to 8:00 as my subject isn't one of the "big three". Happens almost every parents evening!

soverylucky Tue 23-Apr-13 17:21:58

I think you misunderstood me - I was refering to what happened to me. What I meant was that you might have been her last appointment at 6.05 and therefore when you went back later on she may have waited a while. I can see that 20 minutes is not that long to wait - I was waiting over 45 minutes before I gave up. Perhaps she had just left? At any school I have worked at you leave after your last appointment not when the evening ends.
It would seem to me that since this was last week and she has not replied to your email then you have a right to be cross. If she didn't see you on the evening and you took the time to email/call then it is wrong that she hasn't got back to you yet.

Finola1step Tue 23-Apr-13 17:28:08

As a teacher, I read your thread title and was ready to say YADBU. But in the situation you described, she should have waited. Or if she really had to go (transport, childcare etc) she should have made a new appointment with you as she was running late and not you. Email her for a written update on your child's progress in the subject.

Finola1step Tue 23-Apr-13 17:29:54

Oops. Just seen that you have emailed. Def email head of department

YokoUhOh Tue 23-Apr-13 17:32:01

More parents' evenings, Freya? I already have seven (one for each year group) across the year, not to mention Open Evenings, tutor group parents' evenings (2), concerts, school productions, Carol services, I could go on...! Not a moan, just an FYI. I'm already dreading the logistics of going back to school after maternity leave; I have no idea how we'll cover those evenings! sad

BackforGood Tue 23-Apr-13 17:32:38

If she isn't able to keep to the appointments, then the onus is on her to stay later to see everyone she's agreed to see. I say that as a teacher.
The fact you've only seen 6 teachers in 2 hours is pretty poor tbh. What's the point in them having an appointment system if they don't stick to it ? It's also appaling that you've not had a reply in a whole week. I would speak to the head of department about it.

It's interesting to me, that, as ds's school which never had appointment systems, I always used to be able to see all of his teachers - 10 or so - without any problems, yet at dd's, which has an appointment system, several of them refuse to see you (on their own, made up criteria) and then it still takes twice as long to see half the teachers, and you get the situation OP describes where parents don't know if they should wait by the teacher that's running late, or move to their next appt, etc.

nokidshere Tue 23-Apr-13 17:47:36

I haven't yet seen all the teachers at my sons secondary school parents evenings. I think she should have found you and apologised but that the overrun meant she couldn't stay longer for whatever reason and made a new appointment.

However, I do feel that parents evenings are not the time to find out if your child has a problem. If you think your child is struggling you should speak to someone immediately. Likewise they should call you if there are problems and not wait for parents evenings!

Mum2Luke Tue 23-Apr-13 17:57:35

I'm sorry but the ones who are teachers and have said on here about getting back to your family - are you not being paid to be a teacher, to see parents of pupils if they have made appointments?

I have all this to come again when my son starts secondary school, trying to get to see teachers is hard enough but when they go home before the session is supposed to finish is not on. I think it is rude not to inform parents of their child's progress, most want to know how they are getting on/settled etc.

I also think teachers should know the children they are writing reports on, I know when there are 100's in the school it must be tricky but surely you must know whose work you have marked. I remember a teacher who didn't even know who my eldest son was yet he wrote a report on him.

handcream Tue 23-Apr-13 18:04:19

Mum - there is another thread going on somewhere where teachers are claiming they work all the hours God sends.... Not in this case it would seem. Parents evenings arent that often are they for her to keep a least a hour afterwards.

Still, at least the parents turned up. At my DM's school that she still volunteers in less than 50% do...

popperdoodles Tue 23-Apr-13 18:08:00

Like the idea of the speed dating bell, might suggest that to ds1's school! We gave up waiting to see his RE teacher at the last parents evening as she continued to chat chat chat despite a queue waiting to see her and all the other teachers packed up and gone. Head milled about clearly trying to give her a hint but she carried on regardless. I hope he spoke to her afterwards.
YANBU if the current system doesn't work they need to think of a new one. Fair enough if she really had to leave but should have contacted you to apologise and arrange another way to catch up.

handcream Tue 23-Apr-13 18:11:10

Dont forget the 'helpers' who literally whisper in your ear to move and move the chair to enable you to get up. We used to have just the bell but some people just ignored it!

FreyaSnow Tue 23-Apr-13 18:12:48

YUO, yes I think there needs to be more parents' evenings. Every parent should be able to meet every teacher who teaches their child. It's the nature of holding a professional job (and indeed many non-professional jobs) that you have to work outside of your contracted hours. 14 parent evenings' a year is one week a term.

MammaTJ Tue 23-Apr-13 18:15:56

I missed an appointment for this very reason. Everyone was running late and by the time I got to the last but one teacher, he had left. I too had to sign in and had not signed out.

I asked DD if I needed to see this teacher and she said no, so I did not pursue it.

Iggi101 Tue 23-Apr-13 18:18:07

I have attended a parents evening to see one parent, who then did not show up.
I often have people with appointments, who I have seen walking around, not come to my desk. I have people insist they need a late appt, so have to wait an hour as have space between appts. If the first parents don't come on time, everything can be thrown out of whack.
This teacher may just be a skiver; but to suggest teachers just need to sit waiting till the last parent has left the building is daft. (Or do you think they actually sleep there?).

orangeandlemons Tue 23-Apr-13 18:19:46

But the amount of times, I have sat and waited until the end for someone who failed to turn up at the appointed time,, for whatever reason, and then they don't bother turning up at all. Is she supposed to wait for ever? You say she saw you, but she might not have recognised you. I don't know what any of my pupils' parents look like.

A bell goes for us at the end of parents evening. After 11 hours of talking, I think it is Ok for me to leave then.....we are told to by our Headteacher and not to hang around

Waferthinmint Tue 23-Apr-13 18:24:48

Take this up with SMT rather than teacher. She can't wait after time for you if she has childcare of her own to deal with. However, management can work to support its teaching staff and parents in developing a more efficient and reliable system. Teachers are often parents too and see it from both sides.

5madthings Tue 23-Apr-13 18:26:14


Have to say at ds1,s parents evening I didn't get to see his English teacher, it was half term the next day so I just left a message saying I would like to speak to him at some point, he actually phoned up during the half term holiday and was very apologetic and happy to speak to me, we ended up a bit off the subject as we both had little children making noise in the background. But I was impressed he made the effort to contact me in the holiday rather than wait till after half term.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 23-Apr-13 18:35:29

If the evening finished at 6:30, what time did you get to her desk? She wouldn't have had an appointment slot at 6:30, 6:25 would have been the last one.

The system sounds crap though.

SuffolkNWhat Tue 23-Apr-13 20:03:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Our first appt tonight was 15 mins past time, all of that 15 mins had been taken up by one set of parents who were not looking at the clock.

Luckily, due to the online booking, we had a gap of 15 mins to the next appt, and by the end of the evening were only 10 mins after the time we should have finished. But this was only accomplished because the teacher we whould have seen last had a gap while we waited for the 6th teacher to become free, so we quickly jumped in (no-one else was waiting for her at that point).

IMO, if parents want to discuss problems that take more than 5 mins to go through, I don't think parents evening is the place to air them.

EndoplasmicReticulum Tue 23-Apr-13 20:13:33

She should not have gone. At parents' evenings I stay until I have seen all parents who want to see me. I make alternative childcare arrangements.

The only defence is if she thought you had gone, as your appointment with her was at 6.05. In which case it's the fault of the organisation of the event rather than the individual teacher.

clam Tue 23-Apr-13 20:31:18

I had something similar for dd last year. Our last appointment for history was at 6.55. We finished with the previous appointment (who was running late) at 6.57 and as we were just standing up to leave him, I saw the history teacher beetling out the door with her coat on! The whole evening was meant to end at 7pm so not only did she give up on us after 2 minutes, she also left before the end.

Mawgatron Tue 23-Apr-13 20:49:07

I feel like there is a bit of teacher bashing going on here. When I have parents evening, I do a 13 hour day. I get to work at 7-7.30 every morning, and our parents evenings don't finish until 8.30. I will generally wait for 1/2 an hour after my last appointment if there are people that haven't turned up, but I don't see that I should have to do any more than that. There are 6 year groups in my school, many of them having 2 parents evenings across the year. As well as this, we have open evenings for year 7, 9, 11, careers evening etc.

We do our best for your children, and we do care, but it really feels like everyone has it in for us at the moment...

BoneyBackJefferson Tue 23-Apr-13 21:01:03

I have been let down by more parents than I have seen parents let down by teachers.
I have known teachers who are ill or have emergencies spend the next couple of nights ringing parents.

On the other hand I have had parents not turn up for appointments/parents evening after making appointments.
I have had parents go home half way through the evening and not see half the teachers that are waiting for them.

And my all time favorite taking the last appointment of the evening and not showning up at all. (she used to do this deliberately and did this for four years)

orangeandlemons Tue 23-Apr-13 21:02:57

.....and not turning up, then blaming you when something goes wrongfor their child that they could have told you about at parents evening

clam Tue 23-Apr-13 21:45:58

mawgatron I'm certainly not a teacher-basher - I am a teacher myself. But I do think that leaving after 2 minutes was a bit prompt and not something I would ever do myself. I would not have dreamt of complaining about it though, not that I think the OP did.

Spikeytree Tue 23-Apr-13 22:00:55

At our parents evenings there are no appointments. Parents turn up and are allocated a desk and teachers move around them. We have 3 per year now as our year groups are 325 strong. Each is 3 hours. That means 63 hours of parents evening (years 7-13). What I hate is the parent who says they are coming and then doesn't, with no word. That can mean that I'm waiting from 6pm till 7.30pm as we aren't allowed to leave until all the parents who have indicated they are to attend arrive.

mumandboys123 Tue 23-Apr-13 22:07:59

it may have been previous of her to leave but there could be a thousand reasons - all of them good and reasonable in context - as to why she had to leave. I am a lone parent, I am also a teacher in training...sometimes I have to leave before I would like because childcare only lasts so long. I am not - and never will be - uncommitted but I have responsibilities outwith the classroom and there is no one there to take up the slack if I can't.

aftermay Tue 23-Apr-13 22:12:47

The teachers running late don't do so because they've been talking too much but because the parents have been too slow or with too many questions etc. I'm sure the teachers would love to work to time. Keep it brief, people.

bigbuttons Tue 23-Apr-13 22:15:21

My last parents' evening with ds2 (13) was infuriating;3 teachers didn't turn up for various reasons . I can NEVER get an appointment for English, they are always fully booked ffs. So they don't have enough slots for each child.

soverylucky Tue 23-Apr-13 22:17:33

bigbuttons that is the same problem at my school. Please contact the head and encourage other parents to do the same and then maybe a better/alternative system can be used. I have to double book all appointments giving each parent a very small amount of time with the promise of a follow up call or email if they need more info. It is the only way I can fit everyone in and it is not ideal at all.

Blissx Tue 23-Apr-13 22:26:06

Just what I was about to say, aftermay! I never voluntarily go over the appointment slot, if I do,it is because a parent(s) doesn't want to leave and keeps asking questions or wants to keep talking and I always apologise to the next parent. (just want to point out to the poster that thinks we need to know every pupil, could you know 245 pupils, see some of them 1 hour per week and know them by the time an autumn or spring parents eve comes round? I have their data, know most of them but it's bloody hard. Good grief!) sorry rant over and back to marking work....

mummytime Tue 23-Apr-13 22:30:19

After may - I had one teacher who said everything twice, she had the longest queue quite quickly. But it is usually parents who make things run late. However it can be that there are surprises at parents evening, which can want you to discuss further.

tiggytape Tue 23-Apr-13 22:31:06

I agree aftermay - the parents that can see the place is packed but still somehow believe they're there for a full 30 minute consultation are just baffling. Never mind bells - there should be electrified seats to move them on!

TheFallenMadonna Tue 23-Apr-13 22:32:13

She should have stayed. When I am fully booked, I start early and leave late to accomodate everybody. If the parents cannot make the slots available (and some do have a very limited availability) then I phone or email instead. I teach a Core subject, and often have more than one class per year group, so I do a lot of talking!

aftermay Tue 23-Apr-13 22:34:21

Yes, like patients at the GP. Someone may take longer because their situation is more complex. Doesn't stop patients from getting annoyed with the waiting. Of course the dr doesn't just up sticks and go, just to say everyone would rather it worked on time.

aftermay Tue 23-Apr-13 22:38:37

There shouldn't be surprises at parents evenings. If my DS has been doing FA at one subject I go in expecting to hear some pretty poor things. I have a feeling for the subject he works at and the ones he hates as we still check his homework, sadly.

tiggytape Tue 23-Apr-13 22:42:27

Unlike a GP though, nothing urgent or very complicated should be left until parents' evening and hopefully nobody is going to suffer an terrible emergency on the night that cannot be ignored.

If parents (or teachers) need to discuss complex situations or problems, a separate appointment should be made as soon as that issue comes to light since a 5 minute slot once a year is not at all adequate for that type of situation.

clam Tue 23-Apr-13 22:45:15

With my teacher's hat on, it is pretty annoying when, having worked hard to stay within time for each appointment, you then get a parent who's late (no other appointments over-running - we're talking primary with no siblings) and I hang around for nearly the whole 10 minute slot. The moment I decide to bring the next parent in early, the 'late' parent will invariably turn up (frequently with no acknowledgement, let alone an apology) but insist on having their full 10 minutes. Which pushes everyone else back later...
Dh always says I should just say, "sorry, I can only give you 2 minutes" but that's easier said than done.

aftermay Tue 23-Apr-13 22:48:13

Clam - or offer to see them at the end of the appointments so the other parents don't have to be delayed. See if they'll wait or if they'll go.

AvrilPoisson Tue 23-Apr-13 22:48:24

I don't understand how they're supposed to do it though... 5 minutes per pupil's parents, they can only do 12 an hour, if there are 150 in a year, or 180, or even more... how on earth could they see everyone? confused

Fargo86 Tue 23-Apr-13 22:49:37

Aren't parents evenings becoming antiquated? Why can't schools set up skype conferences between parents and teachers? Or something else similar.

aftermay Tue 23-Apr-13 22:50:58

There may be 2-3 evenings of appointments, plus not everyone books in to see the teacher. We missed out on our daughters recently because we simply couldn't make any of the dates, despite the long notice.

clam Tue 23-Apr-13 22:52:23

aftermay that's a good idea. Might try that next time.

My Yr 8 DS has to book his own appointments (so he only books them with the teachers he wants me to talk to . ie the subjects he's good at hmm )

So by the time I insist he books a time with his English teacher, French teacher etc, we are rushing from canteen to library to classroom.

They have 4 teachers in a classroom. So four sets of parent/child plus those waiting.
In the hall it's even worse.
You can hardly hear yourself think <<sigh>>

BackforGood Tue 23-Apr-13 23:11:49

Clam All parents evenings I've attended as a parent (LOTS), and all I've attended as a teacher (21yrs worth), it's always been standard practice to just invite the next people on the list in if they are there and the "owners" of that slot aren't there. I can't imagine sitting around for several minutes 'waiting' for them. They then get fitted in quite soon as you are obviously running ahead of time by having invited the next parents in.
Avril I think that is something that should be taken into account when timetabling the staff though - so they don't have 6 classes from the same year group. Obviously in subjects such as music, say where there are fewer teachers it might happen, but lots of parents aren't bothered about seeing the music teacher (sorry music teachers ! but you know it's true wink). In a subject such as English or maths though, the school needs to find it's own way of ensuring there are enough appointments for parents that want them (and it will rarely, if ever, be parents of all children).

clam Tue 23-Apr-13 23:16:08

You can only invite the next lot in if they've arrived early. I'm talking about cases where there was no one else around to come in.

cricketballs Tue 23-Apr-13 23:17:06

whether or not there is an appointment system these are my observations of working in schools with both appointments or a 'free for all'

* unless the parents sign in the same room as teachers are sitting in we can not be aware of who is here or not
* whilst we are in discussions with a parent we are not scanning the room/door to see the other parents are waiting
* I teach 3 option groups of year 10s and we have a parents evening tomorrow lasting 3 hours. It is an impossibility for me to meet every parent of every child I teach
* we also have a life; my DH is working away at the moment therefore I am relying on childcare for my SEN son. So I need to get home at a reasonable time in order for my son to see his mother

MidniteScribbler Tue 23-Apr-13 23:36:23

I loathe parent teacher nights and the teacher bashing that seems to inevitably come with it. I've already been at work since 7am, and I'm still sitting there at 9pm. I'd like to go home so that I can get some sleep to be back there at 7am the next day, bright eyed and bushy tailed to spend the day on my feet teaching your children. Somewhere in there I have to prep the next days lessons because I've missed out on the several hours of prep I normally do at night after my son goes to bed.

There should be no need for these evenings at all. Any good teacher should have already had plenty of communication with their students parents during the year, enough to make them completely irrelevant. I have a checklist and I make sure that I have either spoken to or emailed every parent personally several times per term about their child to update them. Obviously it's a lot more communication if the child is having difficulties. There's really no new information I can give them in that ten minutes that have been allocated and would rather everyone just go home and spend the time reading or playing with their children instead.

clam Tue 23-Apr-13 23:41:46

Oh my word. Have just added it all up Twice a year (not counting open evenings where just need to be available if required for informal chat) x27 years as a teacher. Plus around 20 for ds (year 12) and 18 for dd (year 10). That's over 90 parents' evenings I've attended.


nokidshere Tue 23-Apr-13 23:58:49

I dont think its teacher bashing really so much as finding a better system. No-one has any control over parents evenings because everyone is dependant on everyone else and thats the problem. Someone, either the teachers or the parents, are always left feeling disgruntled because of the time constraints.

I would not be happy though if I went and found I had to spend longer with one teacher because they were telling me something I didn't already know. If my child wasn't performing in class, or was struggling with the work I would expect to have been told long before parents evening to be honest. Similarly, If I noticed a problem with any of my childs work I would call the teacher as I did recently. He called me back the same afternoon and we had a proper chat about my son. At parents evening it will then just be a case of did the plan work.

Pitmountainpony Wed 24-Apr-13 01:18:10

As a former teacher I do not miss the endless parents' evenings after a long day at work- talking for 3 hours and then having to get up the next day and talk again.....if you really wanted to see her you should have sat and waited- teachers have limited control over people sticking to the 5 min limit so you are best off just waiting and don't bother making appointments with all the teachers unless you have genuine concerns- believe you me the teachers will insist they see you if they have issues with your child.
Often there is very little to say about the majority of good students.
You know now- just wait if you are that desperate to see the teacher.

Thank you to all the teachers on here who work hard in a job that most people could simply not cope with..Those parents evenings are dreaded by most teachers, like some awful overtime at the end of an already long day where each person you see expects you to be full of energy and knowledge of their child- the only one for the parents of course but one of 200-300 for some teachers who barely know many kids names by the spring parents evenings, let alone a really authentic sense of how their child is doing in their subject-I say this for the subjects where they see them once a week.

One thing I noticed at last night's parents evening is that the teachers were all gathered in one building, instead of in their usual classrooms across the whole site.

Done to minimise parents having to traipse miles while trying to get to the next appt, and it reduces no-shows and people running late, according to the school. It certainly made things easier for us last night.

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