head teachers sanctioning the disposal of children's workbooks

(132 Posts)
bullethead Tue 03-Aug-10 23:16:07

There is no valid reason for this; so far on the TES forum, where I have put the question to head teachers about why they destroy the children's workbooks rather than give them out, none have come forward. The only replies I've had are from a TA who has to do it but disagrees with it, and a head who does not have a problem with letting the children take their books home.
Please ask your child's school's head why they weren't given the option of keeping their books if your child did not bring them home. Chances are you won't get a straight answer and they'll hope you forget about it.

fabsoopergroovy Wed 04-Aug-10 10:59:00

My childs books did not come home voluntarily. I and a number of other parents (many in education themselves) had serious doubts regarding competency and teacher assessments/levelling. HT did release them some 3-4 months later following official complaints regarding significant over-assessment (turns out by a least 2 academic years, consistently one whole level).

What we got in relation to books was shocking - incorrect spellings teacher corrected with incorrect spellings, grammatically incorrect comments (eg. 'must of') and numeracy marked as correct when incorrect. The children, of course, were immensely proud to be showing us their hard years work which, in my case, made me cry .

These serious issues were brought to the attention of the SIP who was previously of the opinion the school was in relatively good shape (a line fed by the HT and Chair of Governors). Official complaints by parents led to an full and comprehensive review of teaching and learning at the school by the LEA and to this date there are still consultant heads trying to retrieve the schools reputation.

The HT in the meantime was dismissed and reinstated for a different but related matter (another story completely) and at least 15% of the school population has been removed by parents to other local schools. The situation is ongoing.

Perhaps more shocking than anything is the recent admission by the HT that she had no idea that the teacher concerned was as bad as parents identified!

This is one reason why HT's are reluctant to endorse books being sent home by their teaching staff with the children.

bullethead Wed 04-Aug-10 12:00:26

Thank you so much for your reply, fab. It confirms what I have suspected all along;that the real reason heads do not allow books to go out is to avoid any criticism, and that in itself is not a valid reason.

If they are so concerned about the standards of marking and teacher input in those books, then they should be managing the situation a lot better and guiding their staff. It sounds like they are hiding evidence from everyone - parents, governors, LEA and
ofsted.

That head teachers consider themselves within their rights to take the unilateral decision to deny children the choice of keeping recorded work they have done throughout the academic year is astonishing. What value do they really place on their pupil's work if they destroy it in this way? There is something seriously amiss in a system which allows this to happen.

I suspect most teachers are happy to hand the books out but are directed from above. In years gone by, before our school stopped giving them out, we got a lot of enjoyment out of looking at them together and there was never anything wrong with them either.

I would urge anyone who was disappointed not to receive their child's exercise books to request them from the head teacher next term, and if they have been thrown away without consultation with parents, to ask the reasons for this.

When I taught the books went home at the end of the year and tbh that fact was very helpful in ecouraging me to make sure they were nicely kept and had accurate comments and spellings.
In my last year two books from each level in the class were to be kept as records and I felt very sad for the children and their parents who did not get to see all of the hard work, imagination and also evidence of what we had done over the year.

bullethead Wed 04-Aug-10 12:44:01

FlyMe-
Thank you for your comments- also the interesting flipside which is that it encourages everyone to make sure the books are nicely kept even though that must be hard sometimes.
On the point of keeping the books as records - a poster on the primary ed forum said their school had the solution of keeping photocopies. Otherwise is very unfair on those children whose books are kept.

bullethead Wed 04-Aug-10 12:47:33

As an addition there have been further comments on the tes head teacher forum, interestingly only from those who do not advocate the practice of witholding books and are surprised that other heads do.

sarah293 Wed 04-Aug-10 12:50:00

Message withdrawn

OrmRenewed Wed 04-Aug-10 12:52:40

We weren't given the option - we had them brought home at end of term! They are sitting in a carrier bag under the dining room table until someone gets round to doing sometihing with them. I don't want them, the DC don't want them. I might perhaps keep a few special bits of work or projects but they come home throughout the year.

bullethead Wed 04-Aug-10 12:58:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Poledra Wed 04-Aug-10 13:00:03

We got ours home at the end of term - I went through them with DD1 (my only school child), admired and praised as expected. Then we weeded out the things she didn't want to keep and chucked 'em, and the rest went upstairs to her room.

However, as to the standards of teachers' comments etc., I always see this on DD1's homework anyway. The previous week's work has been marked and commented on, so I have the opportunity there to keep an eye on the teaching.

bullethead Wed 04-Aug-10 13:11:03

Schools should be giving out the work regardless of what happens to it!

Or, if they want to add even more bureaucracy for the teachers to deal with, perhaps they should send out a letter to parents with a box to tick if they want to see the books.

bullethead Wed 04-Aug-10 16:13:56

This campaign is really about giving all primary school children the right to choose to take home THEIR work at the end of the academic year.

Your taxes pay for their education, and they are there six hours a day excepting holidays. We have a right to see what they've been doing during that time, and not just the edited highlights at parents' evenings. We should have the right to choose to keep it as well.

Some schools are denying us that right.

Acanthus Wed 04-Aug-10 16:16:41

We get ours home. I only keep Creative Writing, they're a scream grin

Feenie Wed 04-Aug-10 16:26:19

We send ours home.

MathsMadMummy Wed 04-Aug-10 16:29:48

this makes me sad. my DD is only 3 and I'm proud of every scribble now, imagine how I'll feel when she's writing stories etc! I won't want to miss any of her schoolwork. anyway, surely it's my right as a parent to see it? I deserve to know what she's learning and whether she's being taught well, don't I?

my stepkids' schools don't send books home, and I've seen enough of their homework sheets to know why - they'd be like those mentioned above by fabsoopergroovy - well, if there was anything written at all.

if DD's school binned the books I'd be and angry - what kind of message is that? "oh, you've slogged your little guts out writing that story about Henry VIII, you were so proud of it, but actually it's not worth keeping and your parents don't need to see it" FGS.

bullethead Thu 05-Aug-10 10:07:13

If you have time please go on the tes forum. There are two threads running about this, it is turning out to be a bit of a scandal. One of the threads is in the 'workplace dilemmas' section, and one in the 'headteachers' section. There are concerned staff who are told to shred work even though they don't want to. Not one head teacher has come forward to justify it, which suggests they are all keeping a low profile if they do it, because really, there is no justfication.

Lynli Thu 05-Aug-10 10:13:36

My Ds staggered home with a truck load.

I can only think they want to destroy them to hide their incompetence, or they are having them recycled.

If a child is doing well, or not so well then parents should be able to see that.

Much as it drives me crazy trying to accommodate all of these things, I would be concerned if I never saw them.

Feenie Thu 05-Aug-10 10:16:50

I think, actually, it's more because those boards are extremely slow moving in August, bullethead - unless you suspect all the heads have something to hide about every single thread. It's like a ghost town!

(However, notice that the primary forum never stops, even on Christmas day!)

bullethead Thu 05-Aug-10 10:26:15

Yes they are slow moving, inevitably. However that doesn't change the fact that those who have posted have not really tried to defend it, but are more concerned about it.

Feenie Thu 05-Aug-10 10:29:20

es, but it's just three people, bullethead. I agree that the practice is scandalous, but I don't think it's necessarily widespread.

bullethead Thu 05-Aug-10 10:44:06

Thank you - glad to hear you agree it's a scandal. However just because the head teachers may be on holiday does not invalidate the issue.

Posters on both threads have reported their schools doing it and do not support it. Not one poster has come forward, admitted they do it and given a justifiable reason.
Yes I do believe heads feel the need to conceal the books from parents, and so destroy them.

Neither of us know if it's a widespread practice unless we do a national survey. However it would seem to be fairly common, judging the proportion of replies who say their schools shred work.

Feenie Thu 05-Aug-10 11:16:22

I didn't mean that the issue is invalidated because heads are on hoilday, I was answering your comment that they are deliberately keeping a low profile because they can't justify it.

From the workplace dilemmas forum, it would seem it is a little more common that I had first thought.

MathsMadMummy Thu 05-Aug-10 12:45:53

all these things worry me, as a (hopefully) future primary teacher. being told to do things I don't agree with, overall probably because of govt pressure in various forms? I guess in all jobs you have to do this from time to time - DH is a retail manager and certainly knows the meaning of 'ours is not to reason why, ours is just to do or die' - but IMHO it's worse for those in jobs like teaching, nursing etc, because these decisions really affect people. if I thought some of the teaching in my school was below standard and because of that we were having to shred students' hard work, I would find it so hard not to object. but what can you do - make too much fuss and get a warning or lose your job?

bullethead Thu 05-Aug-10 15:44:19

Feenie-understand your point.

MMM - I don't think you'd lose your job if a large number of staff objected to it.

Staff can be made to feel very uncomfortable and isolated when they voice concerns or seem reluctant to tow the line on certain issues. This is why this needs to be brought out into the open as it has become a bit of a head teachers' 'loophole'.

ElbowFan Sat 07-Aug-10 16:24:19

It maybe worth considering that if you asked to see the books at open evening (I know I used to enjoy seeing what DCs had done during the year)you should be able to. Any concerns about quality of marking could be raised the next day with the HT if need be. If no problems were manifest you could ask if it would be possible to have the books at the end of term so you could share them with Grans etc.
I suspect that it is the growth of the aggressive parent who is always trying to prove the teacher wrong who is at the root of the practice of destruction of children's work.

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