Not confident that my children are getting a good education!

(37 Posts)
spencerkids Thu 22-Nov-12 19:57:15

We received a letter from school this week stating that our year 3 teacher had gone on long-term sick! The school have decided not to get a supply teacher but to mix teachers around so year 2 teacher will teach year 2 in the morning and year 3 in the afternoon, year 6 teacher will teach year 6 in the morning and year 2 in the afternoon, the deputy head will teach year 3 in the morning!

I am concerned about the possibility of having the kind of cohesive approach that primary children need when two teachers are swapping over. I feel that a primary class needs one teacher who can get to know the children properly and create a stable environment! I don?t believe that it will be easier for one teacher to personally know 60 children better than they can get to know 30!

Also the school lacks on communication. We have one parents meeting at the end of the year! I understand from a few other schools that at least four target performance meetings take place between parents and teachers each year. We are not informed of the childrens grades. The children do bring home reading books but we don't get any more homework than this.

I emailed the headteacher about my concerns and she sent back an email that I think is very intimidating (see below).

'Please will you contact the admin office to make an appointment that suits us both. I will invite my senior management team, my Learning Mentor Manager and the Chair of Governors to attend the meeting'. shock

I hate to sound negative all the time but nothing is more important to me than my three children. I want the best for them and the best education I can get for them. I was so excited thinking about my children starting school, assisting in their learning (doing homework) I never guessed it would be this difficult!

mercibucket Thu 22-Nov-12 20:10:53

That meeting sounds a bit one-sided!! Can you get some support from other parents on this and have them in the meeting too

This happened to us and we muddled through. It wasn't brilliant but it was ok. Year 3 is often the 'crap teacher' year anyway (if the school has such a person, I'm sure not all year 3 teachers are crap, it's just a good place to park them if they are as it is least disruptive to overall education - after ks1 sats but a long time before ks2 sats)

mercibucket Thu 22-Nov-12 20:11:02

That meeting sounds a bit one-sided!! Can you get some support from other parents on this and have them in the meeting too

This happened to us and we muddled through. It wasn't brilliant but it was ok. Year 3 is often the 'crap teacher' year anyway (if the school has such a person, I'm sure not all year 3 teachers are crap, it's just a good place to park them if they are as it is least disruptive to overall education - after ks1 sats but a long time before ks2 sats)

yellowsubmarine53 Thu 22-Nov-12 20:15:52

In addition to sounding one-sided, that meeting sounds like a ridiculous waste of lots of people's time...

I agree with mercibucket that getting some other parents involved is a good idea - I'm sure that you're not the only one with concerns.

I think I would e-mail the head again with specific questions, and only suggest a meeting if she wasn't able to answer those satisfactorily by e-mail. Do cc in the Chair of governors too.

My dd had a job share for reception, and it worked very well just fyi.

spencerkids Thu 22-Nov-12 20:20:53

My daughter is in year 2. I'm annoyed we are losing our teacher half a day to year 3. I just think it seems silly to disrupt 90 children rather than get a supply teacher for year 3! My daughter is quite shy and has just started getting more chatty to her year 2 teacher. Also why disrupt two crucial years (year 2 & 6) to cover year 3 just doesn't seem to make sense.

I have a few parents that I could get to attend the meeting. But I was thinking of asking the head to scale back on the people in the meeting. I don't understand why she wants to make it so confrontational so soon with out trying to resolve it easier?

spencerkids Thu 22-Nov-12 20:24:20

Also what you said about year 3 makes sense. My husband has volunteered to be a school governor and at his first meeting they brought up the subject about education taking a dive in year 3. So that makes perfect sense about the 'crap teacher' year. Not an important year so why not put your worse teacher in there.

I never imagined schools to be this bad!

mercibucket Thu 22-Nov-12 20:40:08

Sorry, I misunderstood. It is worrying but I think the school will try hard to make this a good outcome for the year 2 class. You are getting the year 6 teacher for half ot it, and they will be good too. The year 3 class sound like they're going to be messed around though. Lots of different teachers. Bet the ta's are going to be covering as well. This is something to ask about as well. We had ta's a lot of the time

Sorry if this double-posts btw, there's a fault on my phone

mercibucket Thu 22-Nov-12 20:40:08

Sorry, I misunderstood. It is worrying but I think the school will try hard to make this a good outcome for the year 2 class. You are getting the year 6 teacher for half ot it, and they will be good too. The year 3 class sound like they're going to be messed around though. Lots of different teachers. Bet the ta's are going to be covering as well. This is something to ask about as well. We had ta's a lot of the time

Sorry if this double-posts btw, there's a fault on my phone

spencerkids Thu 22-Nov-12 22:04:13

Not sure about having suffient TAs also. The year 3 ta went on sick this weekend along with the teacher. So our yr 2 ta also goes into year 3 half day. I also found out that my daughter in year 1 spent some time in nursery today because a ta who has gone on maternity leave has not yet been replaced! Her books have not been changed all week and her spellings not tested!

iseenodust Thu 22-Nov-12 22:27:27

Yes she's out to intimidate you.
The correct reply to which is 'thank you for recognising how serious the concerns are about these arrangements. Clearly this affects many children and I am sure you will wish to extend the same opportunity to learn more from this meeting to all yr2,3 & 6 parents.' - and cc the chair of govs.

Saying that DS had jobshare teachers in yr1 and has now in yr4 and it hasn't seemed to be a problem either time.

tiggytape Thu 22-Nov-12 22:48:36

I guess jobshare is different in the sense that all their planning and focus is still on just one year group and one set of children. If they are a good team they will also have established effective handovers and a way of working that makes the most of the situation. In fact there are often benefits to having 2 teachers sharing but only if it is planned well, not if it is cobbled together (as this situation sounds).

The Head seems very defensive about the whole thing so I would still meet with her but maybe take along someone else for moral support - DH, DP or another parent perhaps? There's no getting away from the fact that it is far from ideal although I do agree if it has to happen, Year 3 is probably the best timing for it.

cricketballs Thu 22-Nov-12 23:34:36

in a primary school it is so small that all staff know all the children well; think of it on a positive note - they are used to the year 2 teacher and vice versa, the introduction of the year 6 teacher will lend to the children becoming more experienced with a KS2 teacher

APMF Fri 23-Nov-12 00:22:49

confrontational? intimidateding? Jeeze the school just can't win. If the meeting was with just the HM there would be the eye rolling and accusations that the school wasn't taking it seriously.

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 23-Nov-12 07:37:05

I'm not sure that's true APMF - the OP e-mailed the Head only.

Violet77 Fri 23-Nov-12 07:48:19

She is trying to intimidate you yes.
I agree with iseenodust.

Graciously accept and get out and spread the word to the parents, she's opened herself up to a meeting. Parent power will be your best hope.

APMF Fri 23-Nov-12 09:08:15

We only got one parent evenings a year at our primary. As far as I know, this is the norm around here. IMO this is reasonable unless for some reason you need to monitor your DCs progress throughout the year. In which case, just have a quick word with the teacher at pick up time.

At our school 'homework' consisted of reading and spellings. I thought there should be more but I was in the minority among the parents. Sounds like your other parents feel the same way.

Anyway, I am not in your shoes so I can only fill in the blanks based on my personnal experience. I'm just saying that if I had highlighted this issues with my HM I would consider it as a good sign that these other people would be there. As for being intimidated, you must be quite a fluffy mummy to even consider that as a motive.

iseenodust Fri 23-Nov-12 09:25:10

APMF your fluffy mummy comment is bonkers. OP emailed the HT to raise concerns. The answer was I'll meet you with at least two sitting either side of me (deputy HT, mentor, Chair, prob KS2/KS1 head). I'll bet OP would be offered a little lower chair too.

SarkyWench Fri 23-Nov-12 09:40:48

Is your DH still a governor?

I would expect the governing body to take time to discuss major changes to the staffing arrangements like this. They are responsible for ensuring that the head is making adequate arrangements.

SarkyWench Fri 23-Nov-12 09:42:42

And there may be compelling financial reasons for this decision depending on the schools arrangements for covering sick pay.

APMF Fri 23-Nov-12 09:50:46

I recently raised a concern with a company we were doing business with. The sales exec arranged a meeting with himself, the account manager and the sales director. I should have realised that they were trying to intimidate me.

Sorry for being so mocking. It's just to me this is a sign that I am being taken seriously and the fact that the OP's 'support group' thinks the HM is trying to intimidate the OP is a reflection on how you choose to see the world around you.

Blu Fri 23-Nov-12 10:07:20

Is it possible that she is insisting that the Chair oGovernors come to the meeting because it is the governors putting the brakes on the money to employ a f/t replacement teacher? And she wnats them to hear what a parent has to say?

I would say your request is being taken seriously, rather than an attempt to intimidate you. Take another parent if anyone else feels the same as you.

iseenodust Fri 23-Nov-12 10:17:41

APMF not everyone needs an audience of many to validate themselves. I think the HT is taking OP seriously. But, it's manifesting itself in a defensive way. A more open response would have been 'I appreciate your concerns. I am available on x or y, or if these do not work for you please make an appointment at your convenience through the school sec.'

APMF Fri 23-Nov-12 11:51:25

I agree that one doesn't need an audience to validate oneself. At the same time, an audience is not necessarily a tool of a HM intent on intimidating a parent.

If you are right then the HM must think that the OP is a Fluffy Mummy and that she can be intimidated by 3 middle aged white dudes smile

Basically, I don't try to draw conclusions based on how many people are in the room with me.

spencerkids Fri 23-Nov-12 12:20:44

This is the first thread I’ve posted on Mumsnet so thank you all for your comments and advice.

I did do research on effects of teachers doing job share and there were some positive comments. However these were usually I as Tiggytape pointed out ‘different in the sense that all their planning and focus is still on just one year group and one set of children’. My DD’s teacher will have to do the lesson plan for both year 2 & 3!

AMPF I am very much not a ‘fluffy mother’ but found the head teachers reply to be over the top to my email. I emailed a few concerns that I wished to discuss and feel that she has over reacted! Also I really don’t think you can compare your working situation to this situation. They are two majorly different sectors! I personally do not agree with having one parents meeting at the end of the school year! How can you help your children at the end of a year if you find out they haven’t done so well in their SATS. I have several friends who are teachers in other school who do give homework and do have more parents meetings.

At the end of the day I do not send my children to school to be babysat. I send them to school to be educated! Research shows that children do better in school when teachers talk often with parents and become involved in the school.

SarkyWench DH is still a governor but was told that governors do not have to be consulted on any staffing issues!

Blu maybe it is a financial issue. It’s defiantly a question to ask. Thanks!

iseenodust thanks for your support. I agree, both myself and DH felt that the response could have been more open. We run an IT support company and DH has offered to give the school any free help they may require with their IT. We are trying to help the school anyway we can. Maybe her response to things is the reason the staff turnover in the school is so high?

DH is attending the meeting with me along with several other mums & dads (who do care a lot) so we will just have to wait and see!

BrigitBigKnickers Fri 23-Nov-12 12:30:17

Sounds like a bit of a mess! Hope the meeting goes well

The ideal would be to find a supply to cover for the time the teacher is off sick. But
1) You have to find a supply teacher who will do it.
2) You have to find a decent supply teacher who will do it <tumble weed>
3) The school may not have the funds to employ a supply teacher (times is hard for schools at the moment!)

SarkyWench Fri 23-Nov-12 12:45:03

She is correct that governors don't get to tell the HT how to organise her staff, but the governors should definnitely be kept informed of any issues that could impact on pupil progress (including staffing issues). At the very least she shold be required to explain to them why she has decided that this is the best option. The governors should be told whether this decision is primarily based on finances, availability of good supply staff, or something else.
Do they have a personnel committee? I would expect it to be discussed there.
I would also expect it to be covered in the head teachers report to the Governing Body, which would give all governors the chance to ask questions.

I would suggest that your DH has a word with the chair.
I am a governor and I would most certainly expect to know why this decision had been taken (although there is often a time lag due to timing of meetings).

It sounds like that (for whatever reason) they are in a tricky spot and are doing the best that they can in non-ideal circumstances.

Also, while it is clearly possible that the HT was trying to 'bully' you into keeping quiet, it is also possible that she is unhappy with the situation and is using your complaint as a way of pushing for a better solution. Remember that she may not have the financial resources to fix this problem in the way that she would like.

And finally, I agree that one parents evening at the end of the year is inadequate.

spencerkids Fri 23-Nov-12 12:55:59

I have been told they do have insurance in place for this type of thing! Maybe the reason is about finding decent supply staff (not sure how hard this is to do)?

I know they are cutting back on TA's! However, adults seem to be very thin on the ground lately hence, my DD in yr1 having to send time playing in nursery whilst the receptionist watch them hmm

SarkyWench Fri 23-Nov-12 13:02:11

They certainly shoiuld have insurance.
My guess is that they are making up for a hole in their budget caused by something else. Was the DH previoulsy not in the classroom? Maybe that was unsustainable?

btw who is teaching year 6 in the afternoon? It sounds like they are still short of half a teacher.

spencerkids Fri 23-Nov-12 13:10:55

Thanks SarkyWench. DH is new to being a school governor and still figuring it out! I know HT had to make a quick decision! However, when this question was asked by DH her reponse was 'please be aware that staffing issues such as these, do not have to go to governors for approval/consultation' maybe a better response would have been to inform DH that the decisions made will be dicussed at the next meeting?

I didn't think of the possibility that she has asked for the meeting to include all the schools key figures as a way to getting a better solution! I guess due to the fact that some of her first response to me was on the defensive that I also jumped on the defensive side. Thanks SarkyWench I will keep an open mind smile

spencerkids Fri 23-Nov-12 13:13:04

Year 6 are being taught by a teacher who normally works will each year teaching writing skills.

SarkyWench Fri 23-Nov-12 13:14:11

Has your DH done the induction training yet?
I actually found it really helpful in clarifying our role.

APMF Fri 23-Nov-12 13:14:50

@OP - If you hear hooves over the horizon of some English field I think 'horse' rather than 'zebra'.

If I asked to see my HM about staffing issues that I felt was impacting my DCs education and the HM arranged a meeting with key people I would think that I was being treated seriously. I certainly wouldn't suspect the HM of trying to intimidate me.

Anyway, that is just me.

I agree that there are important issues here and it appears to me that the HM is trying to address your concerns. I hope that it goes well.

spencerkids Fri 23-Nov-12 13:34:01

He's not done the training yet but it has been mentioned! After the first three meetings he was wondering if it's a good use of his time. (Topics discussed seemed to be all about staff salary's). It has also been said to DH by HT not to bring up conversations about certain issues e.g books not being swopped enough, communication not being great, anything that might offend a teacher! From your experience as a school governor would you recomend him to stick it out?

SarkyWench Fri 23-Nov-12 14:04:30

I would recommend he has a chat with the chair. And does the training (if for no other reason than it is really useful to chat with governors from other local schools so that he can get a feel for whether his GB is typical).

Obviously governors need to be sensitive to the staff governors present, and we should NEVER comment about issues to do with individual staff members at meetings. Also we need to be very careful not to tell the professionals how to do their job. It is not for us to say how often a book should be changed.

BUT... if there are recurring issues in the school that governors suspect are having an impact on pupil progress then these should be discussed. Or if there are recurring negative themes in parents' feedback about the school then these should be discussed. So I'd not expect to discuss details like book swapping, but I would expect to discuss more general issues to do with how to involve parents in their children's education, setting up parent forums etc.

I woud also expect governors to be given detailed summaries of pupil progress so that if there is a dip in progress in particular year groups then they would know this and be able to quiz the HT as to why this might be. So this time next year he should know what the impact of this staffing decision has been. Ultimately the governors need to be given all the information that they need to know whether all is well at the school. And if all is not well, then they should know exactly what is being done to improve the situation.

Do the governors do school visits? That is another way of them finding out more about what is going on.

spencerkids Fri 23-Nov-12 14:32:47

Thanks for your advise. You seem to get a lot of possitives from being a school governor. I'll pass it on to DH. I'm feeling more positive about my meeting also. I guess I'll go talk to them findout the situation and take it from there. Much better option than selling up and moving schools grin! From the feed back it sounds very much like all schools experience similar things!

JJWMummy Fri 23-Nov-12 16:19:23


Not had time to read whole post so if I repeat anything I apologise.

Main reason for not getting in a supply teacher I'm afraid will be cost, yes they have insurance, but they won't want to use it. The mix up of teachers is most definitely detrimental to education, completely inconsistent, will only serve to confuse the kids.

DH is also a Governer and has found it very difficult to question HT, she is very forthright and been in the position 14yrs, my DH only having been a govn for one yr feels unable at the point to be questioning of her.

Our school is also rubbish at communication and I have had to be very in your face about finding things out, constantly n class changing books myself and asking for assessments to be done. That said we have (so far) a better teacher this yr, DS2 is in yr1 and teacher an NQT, was worried initially but he seems to be thriving and coming on in leaps and bounds.

As regards your DD being sent to the nursery with receptionist, OMG! She is entitled to an age appropriate education and they are not providing it.

Yes a meeting with HT is first port of call, then govn, then LEA.

Don't settle for this, they are out of order and HT knows it, hence the amt of people she wants on her side at the meeting.

Good Luck!

spencerkids Fri 23-Nov-12 18:26:07

Hi JJWMummy so nice to hear from someone facing similar problems. Has a working mum with three young children I certainly don't want to take these issues on but I will never sit back and say nothing I feel these people are not providing a good education. I glad you're happy with the teacher this year!

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