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

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

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.

hocuspontas Sat 07-Aug-10 16:34:19

All the books are available to view at two open evenings during the year (primary). They all come home at the end of the year. At secondary all the books are available to see when they come home for homework and again come home at the end of the year. The only exception to this was end of key stage 1 when an OFSTED inspection was due and the books were retained. We never got those back. I remember asking and the HT looking surprised that I wanted them!

I'm surprised that schools don't just want to get shot of them.

bullethead Sat 07-Aug-10 17:35:42

I suspect you are right! I used to love getting the children's books and it never occured to me to criticise them as they were fine. However some parents do and their complaint may be perfectly valid. This isn't aggressive behaviour, it's just parents questioning the school's actions.

If parents do complain, whether it proves justified or not does not mean that heads should use it as an excuse to destroy the children's work.

Glimpsing it at parents' evening for half an hour is no substitute for keeping a book of your child's creative writing efforts for them to have fun looking through when they're older. It is their intellectual property.

If schools have consistent marking policies in place and an open attitude to parents then complaints should be rare. Getting rid of the work, unfortunately, seems like hiding something, whether or not it actually is.

bullethead Sat 07-Aug-10 17:37:53

That reply was to Elbowfan.

bullethead Sat 07-Aug-10 17:41:05

hocuspontas - I'm surprised too. They do get shot of them though, by shredding/binning them. This cost money from the school budget so it is surprising they're not just sent home.

There is some confusion as to whether Ofsted are really that interested in a previous year's cohort's work - especially if they're year 6. Generally they want to know that the current class's needs are being met when they inspect.

ElbowFan Sat 07-Aug-10 18:03:51

The only other thought that occurs to me is that you raise the issue with the parent governor and ask if there is a policy about this and if it could be reviewed?
Most schools are only too keen to have parents 'engaged' in the education process, albeit at arms length! If keeping the books were a requirement of Ofsted, no school would send them home, so I suspect that explanation to be mere excuse. (Ofsted are usually looking at progress of the current children, not historic records.)

It would be interesting to learn whether the HT could explain to the GB the destruction of children's work when parental opinion is largely that they would like the books to go home at the year end.

lucykate Sat 07-Aug-10 18:09:37

i hadn't really thought about this til reading this thread but ds didn't bring home any exercise books at the end of term. he's just finished reception. dd brought home loads when she was in the same year group, and did do this time too (she's just finished yr3). they're both at same school, so it did seem odd ds didn't bring any home, will have to ask around amongst the other parents, make sure it wasn't just ds!

bullethead Sat 07-Aug-10 19:12:44

Thank you elbowfan I think the school governor route is a good idea. I don't dislike the head, just what he has done, which should be beyond his remit. So it might be a good idea to approach both about this. Also, Ofsted may be able to provide some answers themselves.

lucykate asking around will be interesting; likelihood is they didn't get the books either.

Parents don't get a chance to be unified whereas schools do and can close ranks; but if enough parents cared about this, then maybe the head could be approached in an organised way, if people felt strongly enough. On the whole though, parents don't like to bother schools as individuals too much, as they don't want to cause trouble while their child is at the school. It's very tricky.

emptyshell Mon 16-Aug-10 14:21:52

I don't know why I'm replying since you've obviously got an axe to grind here and will disregard what I say.

My old head never let any books go home - because of various incidents where parents had taken books home, mulled over them all holidays and gone back the first week in September and screamed at class teachers about work comments made back in October the previous year. We also had parents cross referencing what colour and number reading book siblings were on on set calendar weeks in corresponding years and all sorts of other nonsense.

Personally - I don't care. Sometimes we had to keep a lower/middle/upper set of books for future comparison purposes - again, not my fault, I offered photocopies of stories or whatever parents wanted keeping - but again, got screamed at for that.

You send the books home - people come in complaining about how we're jamming up THEIR bins rather than the schools and sending home rubbish - you don't send them home - you get people trying to stir up mutinies on here.

I only replied to this because I find the tone that you're taking that schools and teachers are closing ranks to be utterly ridiculous and offensive. I followed the line given to me by the Head Teacher - like all class teachers do - yet it's the class teachers who get yelled at and blamed for the decisions. If you've got a problem - take it up with your child's individual school - I fail to see how harvesting posts on Mumsnet is going to achieve anything other than making you look rather petty.

The issue is dictated by individual heads by the way - not the governors, not Ofsted, not the class teachers who get sick to death of being bashed for this.

fabsoopergroovy Mon 16-Aug-10 15:20:19

emptyshell - I understand your point and indeed your frustration with this thread but it seems to me that peoples experiences are different in different schools.

I have known a school where some of the year groups got to take their books home and others didn't. Where does this fit into your assertion that 'the issue is dictated by individual heads'? By stating this you are confirming to me that HT's allow those competent teachers to send their books home and back those they know lack competence to keep their class books behind.

This is wholly wrong.

bullethead Wed 18-Aug-10 22:02:43

Hello emptyshell- of course I have an axe to grind, that's why I posted this thread. That seems to be what a lot of threads do - it's a way of letting off steam, hence it's a forum for parents to air their views!
Seriously though, I also wanted to get an idea of whether this is normal or unusual for schools. Your reply confirmed what I already suspected - that head teachers take it upon themselves to decide whether a child's academic work is destroyed or not, before the child or parents are consulted.

This thread does seem to have touched on a raw nerve with you and your rather defensive reply reflects that. I haven't disregarded any replies to this thread, in fact I have tried to answer them whether positive or negative. Disagreeing does not mean disregarding.

My point is that fear of parents complaining should not be put forward as a valid reason for not allowing children to keep their work if they want to. I suspect that parents rarely complain but it stands out when one or two do, hence the upset.

The 'clogging up bins' argument - if it is true that parents actually do complain about this - could be circumnavigated by simply asking parents if they want it via a form sent home. That is if heads are getting nervous about criticism that they are clogging up people's bins.

It may seem petty to you, but not quite petty enough for you to ignore.
- Or me, as I have taken this matter up with the school repeatedly but been fobbed off and lied to for three academic years after simply asking for my child's work.

mrz Thu 19-Aug-10 14:47:53

Just for arguments sake can I just throw in the fact that the books actually belong to the school (not to the child) so really it is up to them what they do with them at the end of the day ...

TheFallenMadonna Thu 19-Aug-10 14:52:57

I've recently thrown away a whole bunch of exercise books (secondary), but that's because my students didn't want to take them home. I'd rather they had because it's a right pain separating the cover and the rest fo the book (can't throw anything away with the child's name on).

I don't get my children's (primary) exercise books. I see their books at parents' evenings, so I know they are marked, and properly. And I have no worries about their teachers. I don't know why they don't send them home. Never really though about it.

bullethead Thu 19-Aug-10 16:42:31

Thanks to anyone who has kindly replied with their opinions and further insights into the reasons heads do this. I'm quite sure it's not because it's the school's property. That wouldn't make sense; it's chucked out anyway.

I can only say that it's amazing how many people seem to have no interest in what their children have been DOING and LEARNING at school all year. Parents' evenings are only a chance to see the best books, buffed-up-specially-for-the-occasion workbooks, surprise surprise, all marked and up to date, in an allotted time slot, usually no more than half an hour.

What concerns me is that we are talking about are STATE schools, and the heads who hide their incompetence (practically admitted by emptyshell a few threads back) by stopping parents from having their children's work 'in case they complain', are behaving like tin pot dictators over their own little empires.

Still, if no-one really cares, what the heck. Just send them to school and be glad they're there 6 hours a day 5 days a week.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 19-Aug-10 17:10:08

Yes, that's it exactly bullethead hmm.

I know what my children are DOING and LEARNING because I can see it demonstrated when I talk to them, and when they talk to me, and when I watch them. I see all their books at parents' evenings, not a selection, and I also realise that most of their learning does not take place on paper.

collision Thu 19-Aug-10 17:14:05

We destroyed all our books at school.

Broke my heart tbh. sad

The HT's stand on it is that parents will criticise marking and that the marking might not be up to scratch!

Shocking (and I work at school!)

TheFallenMadonna Thu 19-Aug-10 17:23:26

Parents will criticise the marking though wink

I marked a piece of homework once and said that althought he child had obviously worked hard, he hadn't quite addressed the real point of the question and gave him some pointers as to how he could have done that. His stepfather scrawled in red ink across the page "I made sure X spent 3HOURS on this homework, and you are telling him it isn't right? X is SPECIAL NEEDS!".

X, although not academically able, did not have SEN. His classmates took great delight in reading the comments out.

That was one book I "lost"...

fabsoopergroovy Thu 19-Aug-10 17:39:36

collision - sharp intake of breath shock!

Why does your post still make me respond in this way? Surely after all I've been through recently I should not be shocked at anything school related. I think there must be a bit of me that is hoping that surely this must only happen to a few state schools.

Time for change, time for change, please how can we make it happen?

Feenie Thu 19-Aug-10 18:52:30

All books are in trays and on show for every parents' evening, to look at for as long as parents like!

ShellingPeas Thu 19-Aug-10 19:49:47

At my DC's STATE primary all books are returned at the end of each academic year. And, tbh, expect for particularly exceptional work, I recycle it.

Throughout the year any homework is marked and you can see the marking in the homework books. All work books are available to view at parents' evening, not just the 'buffed up' versions.

And as FallenMadonna say, you can tell what they're DOING and LEARNING by what they say and do when talking to you. It's not all down on paper.

ShellingPeas Thu 19-Aug-10 19:50:21

Agh, should be except not expect. Doh!

mrz Thu 19-Aug-10 20:13:09

I always think that the end of the year is too late too worry what's in your child's books anyway.

collision Thu 19-Aug-10 20:17:25

<whispers> I acshully asked both my boys' teachers if it would be possible to have their Literacy books and they said that if I didnt tell anyone then I could!

Have to wait til after Ofsted have been in.

crisproll2 Thu 19-Aug-10 20:31:53

I have no idea about the rights or wrongs of this situation. I don`t pour over my DS`s written work on parents` evenings, or when he brings it home. It is pretty easy for me to tell how/what he is achieving by basic chats every day and watching him when he is reading/completing homework.

What does concern me though is someone on this thread who works in a school sharing a headteacher`s policy on disposal of children`s work and his/her reasons for doing so (which appears to be based on the headteacher`s belief of his/her staff`s inability to `mark` books!)

This may well be an anonymous site but I am more unimpressed by this than I am of the disposal of workbooks!

notagrannyyet Thu 19-Aug-10 20:35:07

Mine have always brought them home. I did enjoy looking through the primary stuff, and have kept a few books and pieces of art work.....and 3 tudor houses, a mott & bailey castle, and a church!

I did look through secondary books through the year but leave it up to DC what they keep. Even so with 6 DC we have boxes of school stuff in the attic. We also have DH's college notes, DS1 & DD university notes, and the stuff DS2 did during his apprenticeship.

OneMoreCupofCoffee Thu 19-Aug-10 22:41:41

Interesting thread. We see their exercise books twice a year at Parent's consultations - they were useful to look at as they backed up what my ds had complained of - so I can see why schools with something to hide would try to remove them from parent's claws. We do receive an enormous amount of worksheets (yawn), artwork etc- but never their exercise books which is a shame becuase I'd have loved to have my dc's literacy books as a keepsake.

I can't help but feel that schools shoot themselves in the foot over issues like this. If you have nothing to hide then send everything home...why only send home a selection? Comments like - it belongs to the school - who owns and paid for the school? Schools may have the legal right to destroy children's work but do they have they moral right? And "parents would ask too many questions" - only add to the suspicion that schools are hiding something, what's the big problem with transparency? The old professions like to hide information - you remember when your medical records were for the medical profession's eyes only.
A teacher should be able to explain to a parent why they have made a comment on their child's work.

My OH is a Civil Servant and he sees himself as just that - he serves the public and he gets his fair share of abuse but he can defend every decision he makes. Everything in his job is open to scrutiny - every email can be dragged across the tabloids.

bullethead Thu 19-Aug-10 23:13:09

Apologies for the moody tone a while back. Of course it's true, parents are interested in what their children are doing and learning at school - and yes, it's the elephant in the room - but I knew when I ground this axe from the beginning that learning does not always have to take place on paper.

My real concern was voiced much more articulately in the previous post (one more cup of coffee). Others have also acknowledged the oddness of a situation - where the head of a public body can unilaterally decide to destroy all recorded evidence of what he is supposed to be achieving in his role as leader and manager. It really is quite astonishing, and I think something which needs to be debated publicly. It seems like a small thing - but in fact it's not at all.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 19-Aug-10 23:16:14

If only exercise books represented every record of what we do!

MollieO Thu 19-Aug-10 23:20:56

We have the opportunity to review work at parents evenings and even take it home then (to be returned the next day). At the end of the school year everything comes home in a carrier bag whether we want it or not. If it wasn't sent home I would be asking why.

OneMoreCupofCoffee Thu 19-Aug-10 23:30:20

I know the exercise books aren't everything but they are something and they are something that is being deliberately withheld and that is very intriguing. It may be nothing, it may be somthing why destroy them if it's nothing? That is a very interesting question. It would have been much easier for our teachers to dump everything in the parents arms on the last day of term but for some reason they have decided not to - that decision was unlikely to be made by accident - but why was it made and what are they trying to hide?

bullethead Thu 19-Aug-10 23:39:16

MollieO - that's great. It shows respect for the children's work, and shows mutual trust between the school and parents.

FallenMadonna- nobody's disputing that written work is one part of school life and that learning takes other forms as well. I'm not running teachers down here.

All I'm asking for is to keep the work which my child has done - not to criticise, but for sentimental reasons.

I can't see why a school would rather shred it than give it out. Unless it has something to hide.

bullethead Thu 19-Aug-10 23:45:47

onemorecup - that decision was not made by accident and needs to be confronted.

I suspect they have nothing to hide specifically - it's really about the fear of parents complaining and asking some pertinent questions which the head doesn't want to deal with.

Basically a head teacher should not have the power to make this decision without a proper explanation and debate.

Concordia Thu 19-Aug-10 23:45:51

it's a long time since i taught, so i am talking about events over 10 years ago now. but i was told by the acting head (as were all other teachers, there weren't really tas back then to sort those kinds of things) not to give books to parents because there had been too much fuss about something the previous year with parents complaining.
i felt really awkward because i taught reception and i knew parents wanted the books for sentimental reasons. i did feel caught in the middle and spoke to a colleague about it and together we gave out all the project work type stuff but not the actual exercise books, to comply with what we had been told.
no one complained to me about the work / my marking, just the people who wanted the exercise books too.
personally i do think that schools should be more transparent on these things, hopefully most are now, but equally, parents need to remember to treat teachers' work with more respect, unfortunately many don't.
it was a good school btw and i don't think we had anything to hide.

OneMoreCupofCoffee Thu 19-Aug-10 23:55:40

BulletHead - I think you're doing a good thing here, making people aware of this is important but it has also made me feel quite sad. My dd's teacher told me in October that one of stories was so good that it brought tears to her eyes - and I'm now wishing that I had that lovely story and it's upsetting to thing it has been shredded.
One interesting approach would be to get the kids to ask the teachers en masse, what happens to their exercise books at the end of the year? Would the teachers lie to them -or would they be honest about binning them?

TheFallenMadonna Fri 20-Aug-10 09:33:24

My DC's school have a special book that goes with them through the school in which all the best work goes - exemplars of what they can do in each year. I love looking at it at paretns' evening and comparing where DS was in reception and where he is in year 4. That will come home when they leave school, so I suppose I am confident that I will have that keepsake and so am not fretting about that. We also get the project work back every year, and all display work. It's just the workbooks we don't get.

mrz Fri 20-Aug-10 09:52:32

I always photocopy any special work a child produces (when they produce it) and send it home with a note saying how impressed I am which the head normally contributes to.

AlgebraRocksMySocks Fri 20-Aug-10 10:18:14

"people come in complaining about how we're jamming up THEIR bins rather than the schools and sending home rubbish"

I am really horrified that some parents take that attitude to their children's work! angry

FWIW, I totally agree with those who have said you don't need to look through a child's work to know how much they've learnt (I have twin DSDs, and there is massive difference between their writing ability and actual intelligence/knowledge).

But that's not the point is it? It's not just about evidence - surely it's about looking through their work together, being proud of the hard work they've done and showing it off to grandparents etc.

bullethead Fri 20-Aug-10 10:29:10

Thank you onemorecup for your comments. I hope the school haven't destroyed your child's work, perhaps you could leave a note at the school asap requesting that particular book or piece of work? It might just be that they haven't got around to doing anything with it yet. smile I think your idea of the children asking the head en masse is great (perhaps they could do it through the trendy 'student council' thing? All very legitimate!), but I do wonder how honest the head would be if the intention was not to send anything out. If they did admit what happens to it, it would be interesting for the children to ask them to give the reasons why.

It shouldn't need to get to this, if some schools weren't so cloak and dagger about it all; but in legal terms it would hang on the balance between physical and intellectual property. I don't think that is the true issue though. It's really about heads abusing their power. If staff are not happy about destroying the work they should also challenge the head together, rather than do what they say. Is it in their contracts?

I haven't come across a single teacher who doesn't want to share their delight at a good piece of work with me or other parents - so it's not their fault. I like the idea of a 'special book' fallenM,sounds like a lovely policy. There doesn't seem to be any real consistency in this matter though. mrz thanks for following this it's good to get a teacher's view.

bullethead Fri 20-Aug-10 10:31:47

algebrarocks - spot on. That's why I want the books!!!
So why can't the schools just give them out...

Stormyhead Fri 29-Nov-13 23:12:05

I have found out this year that the HT who came in in 2010 quietly instituted a policy of burning all school work books without the knowledge or consent of either the parents or governors. I am absolutely furious about it.

I only found out because my son, who was in year 3 at the time, had filled nearly 2 A4 workbooks with his creative writing stories. His teacher was so proud of his achievements - the spelling wasn't the best, nor the punctuation, but his imagination had come up with some amazing stories. When I asked about getting the books, as I didn't have time to read them in the half hour at the end of the year for 'parental review' I was told that it wasn't possible, because the books were kept for a year and then incinerated. The teacher was obviously upset by it, and confessed that she could possibly save one or two of my son's books, but not all of them as it was checked.

I've been trying to get an answer out of the Head since July as to the 'why' and 'by whose authority'. I am struggling to find the legalities of it, but in my mind, an exercise book belongs to the school while it's empty, but becomes the property of the child when they start writing in it. I've never given my permission for my son's work to be destroyed.

Either way, all I've been offered is flimflam, and politician-type-drivel. But, no books. Despite a formal request for them.

I had a 4 hour meeting with the Chair of Governors last night and he's horrified with the situation too, as the governors weren't aware of this situation either.

I'd be interested to find out what, 3 and a bit years on from the start of this thread, others parents experience with their school, and what they think?

Wellthen Sat 30-Nov-13 09:30:09

I am struggling to find the legalities of it, but in my mind, an exercise book belongs to the school while it's empty, but becomes the property of the child when they start writing in it. I've never given my permission for my son's work to be destroyed.

Laws are not drawn up about children's school books. They simply don't matter enough. Are you serious? The legalities? This is ridiculous. And I think you are wrong about ownership. The school paid for the books. It is evidence of their teaching. The books belong to the school.

I had a 4 hour meeting with the Chair of Governors last night You must see that this is mad. This issue is not worth the emotional energy you are putting into it.

I agree that schools covering up marking is outrageous and its a shame (for about 5 minutes) that the kids don't get to show you their work but it really isn't as important as you are making out.

If you think your school is not performing its duties in relation to feedback then that's a different matter.

yellowsun Sat 30-Nov-13 09:38:55

We don't give them out at the end of the year because we pass them up to the next teacher so they have a good idea of what is expected of the children. They are sent home at some point in the following year but never destroyed.

Stormyhead Sat 30-Nov-13 16:22:07

Ok Wellthen - I get that you're not that bothered.

To clarify, my meeting wasn't just about that issue - I'm the new chair of the PTA and we were discussing various issues regarding the school, and fundraising etc. But the nature of the Headteacher and her stonewalling not just me but the governors at every opportunity did figure large in the conversation.

In part, what annoys me is that she has told us how we are to talk to our children - to not call them 'clever' as that limits them, and to not concentrate on the final mark, but heavily praise them on the effort they put into their work. Which is fine until you realise that she's just going to burn it. The stories that my son wrote are his creations - others may place no value on their child's creativity but I do. My DS was so proud of some of his stories, but I will NEVER get to read any of them now, as despite formally requesting his books, they were destroyed.

And yes, the school pays for the books, and it's evidence of their teaching, but it's also evidence of the child's learning - and surely the child should have at least some ownership of their work?

The school always used to give the books back, until she arrived as the new head, which coincided with the year my son joined reception. The teaching staff are themselves upset by this policy but have to comply.

Anyway, I guess to others it's just a storm in a teacup.

Littlefish Sat 30-Nov-13 22:50:56

How unbelievably unprofessional of the chair of governors to be discussing the Headteacher and her relationship with the governors, with a parent. If I were the Headteacher and heard abut this, I would be going straight to the local authority to demand the removal of the chair of governors for this appalling breach of confidentiality.

Stormyhead Sat 30-Nov-13 23:25:51

I love that it's ok for a head to unilaterally decide to destroy children's work!

Thankfully the head is leaving at Christmas. The Chair of Governors, and the Chair of the PTA discussed, many things. There are many exciting plans afoot for January, and we are looking at how we can build stronger working relationships - incredibly unprofessional, I know.

Amongst other things, we did discuss how much fundraising had gone down in the last 4 years as parents were treated with contempt. The PTA are seen as an extension of the school, and the way parents have been treated had a direct impact on how much they wanted to support us. For example, we went 3 months without a newsletter because she wouldn't let anyone else write one, but didn't have the time to write one herself; last years Christmas Carol concert wasn't advertised in case too many parents turned up, etc. The amount of staff who have left, or were planning to leave due to the attitude of the head teacher is widely known.

But, am glad to know it's amazingly professional to encourage children to work hard for a year, encourage them to do their utmost to improve on their work, and then show how much you value their work by burning it

SE13Mummy Sat 30-Nov-13 23:45:51

I'm writing as a teacher and as a parent.

My children go to a school which keep books for one year and throw them away at the end of the next i.e. Y4 books are thrown away at the end of Y5. Art work and some topic work is sent home by teachers as and when it's finished with.

Knowing that the books were destined for the bin I contacted DD1's teacher in April/May requesting that I be given her books from the previous year. I asked if I needed to make a formal request to the Headteacher or if it would be easier for me to send DD1 in with an extra large bag one day so her books could 'fall' into her bag. I explained that I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in criticising the quality of work, of marking, of questioning the coverage of subjects or complaining about anything. I just wanted to keep the books for DD1 as my parents had done for me. DD1's teacher discussed it with the Headteacher and it was agreed that she would be given all her books. She was.

My own school dispose of books which makes me sad. The reason there is that the parent body are swift to complain and to involve the local press. The Headteacher does not want to create a situation whereby a parent who is unhappy about their child's exercise books goes to the press instead of to the school. I tend to photocopy the children's art work and published work, along with any other special pieces they are particularly proud of. 'Free-standing' originals go home with the children at the end of the year as do photocopies of any special pieces. It's not ideal but it's some sort of a compromise at least. I believe the Headteacher would let the books go home if a parent asked but would probably want to ensure that the parent understood the marking policy, how spelling mistakes are dealt with etc. so as not to shoot himself in the foot.

ravenAK Sat 30-Nov-13 23:53:49

I think it's a bizarre thing to do as school policy. One of my last things every school year is 'here's your most recent book - if you want to keep it, help yourself. If not, please rip out the used pages & dump them in this box for recycling, & the rest of the book in this box for scrap paper.'

I keep a drawer full of 'scrap' exercise books & all my classes know that if you forget your book, just grab one out of the scrap drawer, then make sure you glue the work in your own book at the first opportunity.

I teach secondary, & we have a half-termly 'book check' by HOD to ensure we're doing a good job in terms of marking & feedback - one year group each half term.

In practice, each member of the Dept. takes it in turns to do the book check alongside HOD, so we're all involved.

This is just the routine exercise book marking - moderation of GCSE controlled assessments etc is quite a bit more involved!

Then there's an SLG book check each half term too, which consists of checking every member of the teaching staff - you get an email the night before to let you know that you need to send a particular set of books in following the lesson.

Should you be behind with marking for this group, & the kids have the books for homework so you can't do a quick mark prior to lesson, you are at this point destined to receive a Pained Email, & it's a black mark on your Performance Management.

My books are always sufficiently up to date to pass muster, which means sometimes I have to rush through them. I can mark a set of 30 books to 'book check' standards in an hour, whereas marking them 'properly' & in a manner genuinely helpful to the student takes at least twice as long.

So I have no fears of parents seeing my books because they don't 'look marked' & I don't imagine any of my colleagues would either.

Very odd! My dc's primary school sends them all home. I give each dc my phone & invite them to snap as much of their work as they want to preserve - as a folder on my PC - before the books go in the recycling.

friday16 Sun 01-Dec-13 00:08:36

and then show how much you value their work by burning it

It's the burning part I find extraordinary. That seems all Wicker Man and shit. Why would you engage in the symbolic task of burning children's exercise books? Putting in the recycling, yes. Putting in confidential waste for shredding, perhaps, if you were a bit of a loon. Buy why on earth would you go to the incredibly messy and unreliable effort of burning books? In bulk, paper burns badly, and without the (dangerous) use of an accelerant you'll be left with a load of charred pages. That's why burning (other than in a specially designed incinerator) isn't a reliable means of disposing og confidential documents, for example. Where and when does this strange task get done?

HowManyDaysUntilChristmas Sun 01-Dec-13 00:39:22

Regardless of my opinion on sending home or destroying children's books I am very concerned about your school Stormyhead. No matter how concerned a chair of governors is about the headteacher it is really not on to discuss it with the PTA! PTA and Governors are two separate bodied and if the chair cannot see the line and behaves in such an inappropriate manner it does not bode well for the next head. Governors have a legal oversight of schools and help with strategic vision and accountability and to be discussing this with you is totally out of order. Thank goodness I work at a school where our governors can manage to remember their remit instead of gossiping because if not I would be contacting the LA to have that governor removed or disciplined PDQ!

Retropear Sun 01-Dec-13 06:44:10

Some of us don't even get to see our kids work properly at parents evening unless you insist.But then we don't get levels,progress info or targets either unless you make a direct request.

The first time we insisted we had to collect and sit with them in a side room,the dep head made out we were exceptional and strange wanting to see them as "you don't get to see anything in secondary". hmmObviously they never take books home at the end of the year either.

When I pointed out my requests were far from abnormal as at every school I ever taught in they were readily and freely available on parents evening and to take home in the summer she reluctantly arranged a viewing.

What gets me is parents far less confident than us would be fobbed off.There is huge value in parents seeing work and kids taking books home.

Thankfully this year our teachers are pretty sensible and know what we like to see so have it ready before parents evening appointments for us to look through if necessary.Thank goodness we do though as I was horrified this year to see how little effort dd was putting in so we had quite a productive parents evening on the back of it.Having work at the end of the year informs parents of expectations,methods and standards expected.It's so useful.

nagynolonger Sun 01-Dec-13 07:57:17

I do think it is a really sad that schools destroy the books. At primary everything came home. Some art work and other bits came home at the end each term and all exercise books in July. If the school kept any books we were told why (Ofsted due etc) and I'm fairly certain they were sent home later.
The downside to this is that because we have six DC is that we have boxes and boxes of school stuff in the attic. I have tried to off load some to my now adult DC and they don't want to know! I am slowly working though each box and photographing/scanning some of the best bits. I am then burning it which I do find sad in a way. Some of the work is a pleasure to read but other bits remind me of the struggles my 3 dyslexic sons had and makes me want to cry. They are grown men now and have come through school and are doing really well. I am so proud of them but I do understand why they don't want to look back at school stuff.
Most of the 11 to 16 books that came home were eventually thrown away by the DC themselves. The boys loved having bonfires of old exercise books.
Most A level and university notes and text book are still in the family home but DS1 got all his stuff dumped in his garage when he move into a bigger property this summer.

Stormyhead Sun 01-Dec-13 08:58:52

HowManyDays - just to clarify. As a parent, I had been trying to get a decent response out of the head since July, and had either been ignored completely, or barely acknowledged but with no answers to my requests. This has been since July of this year. Through the due process of the school, the issue has eventually been escalated to the attention of the Chair of Governors who asked to meet me to discuss my concerns. I believe that is allowed?

At the same time, as the new Chair of the PTA, we utilised the fact that we were already meeting, to have a discussion of mutual interests in the school, and what we, the pta, might focus our fundraising efforts on. I had no idea that we shouldn't meet under those conditions, it just seemed like an opportune time to have that discussion.

Retropear - that's such a shame. At Parent consultations thus far, we have been able to see the maths and english books, whilst having a discussion with the teacher. This year, with the input of the new Deputy I believe as it hasn't happened before, we have been allowed to have a certain selection of books to have home for one evening prior to parent consultations. It still doesn't resolve the issue of not getting the books at the end of the year, but I'm hopeful that a new head won't keep the policy going. In the meantime the Acting Head (our new Deputy) came from a school where all books were sent home with kids at the end of the year, so really hope that I get something this year.

I know I won't want to keep everything, but I would like to have the choice in the matter - if the school are going to get rid of it anyway, why can't they just give parents the option to have them?

rabbitstew Sun 01-Dec-13 09:27:30

SE13Mummy - I find it odd that parents would "go to the press" about the state of their children's work books. However, I would be more than happy to complain to the local press if I were told I could not have my children's work books at the end of the year, because the school wished to dispose of them... Using annoying, complainy parents as an excuse for not letting them have their kids' books just seems to me like the excuse of a lousy headteacher.

partystress Sun 01-Dec-13 10:14:45

As a teacher, I hate the fact that I am not allowed by my HT to send children's books home. Professionally, I would find it useful to have the 'best work please, your parents will see this' incentive all year round, rather than just before parents' evenings. Morally, I agree with those who feel the work belongs to the children. However, I respect our HT's right to make that decision based on her many years of experience of running a school. HTs deal with so much more than is ever visible to parents: they are not just line managers of teaching staff, they are like general managers of a medium sized business, with the added stress of often being key players in dealing with distressing child welfare scenarios. Add to that constantly changing goalposts, the knowledge that you will be out of a job if your results slide (which, of course, HTs influence, but can in no way control) or Ofsted, over the course of a two day inspection, deem you to be failing, and it is an immensely stressful job involving an unimaginable number of decisions. On that basis, I can understand why a HT might choose a course of action which is unpopular, but which leads to one, predictable type of complaint, rather than multiple, diffuse and possibly malevolent complaints against individual teachers.

friday16 Sun 01-Dec-13 10:34:31

On that basis, I can understand why a HT might choose a course of action which is unpopular, but which leads to one, predictable type of complaint, rather than multiple, diffuse and possibly malevolent complaints against individual teachers.

But it's a rather particular way to protect yourself which arises from happenstance about how primaries operate. It's not an option open to secondary heads, because books inevitably come home for revision and homework, and yet the situation appears to be managed. Yes, parents whose whole life revolves around which reading scheme band their only child is on have probably calmed down or gone private by the time they're in secondary, but I suspect the concerns owe more to long-established but unevidenced custom and practice than to anything more well thought out.

glinda Sun 01-Dec-13 10:46:08

Some schools' decisions made depend on where they are in the OFSTED cycle. We were inspected in September so the current year's books did not have enough evidence in them. Inspectors asked for all the previous year's Maths and English books! Judgements on the quality of teaching are now made on a combination of the lesson observations and a book scrutiny.
That said, I would imagine that the previous year's books could go home at Christmas if parents wanted them.

teacherwith2kids Sun 01-Dec-13 11:02:10

We continue to use key books the next year - Maths, English, Topic, Science, RE - and then keep the books for a further year after the final entry so that the child's progress can be scrutinised at any point.

This is not just for Ofsted - we have termly Pupil Progress meetings, and if, for example, there is a gap between the previous year's assessment and the next year's, then we can go through the books and look at whether the 'falling back' is real, or an assessment artefact, what might address the issue etc etc. We keep all books because in e.g. writing we would not just be looking in the English books, but at all forms of cross-curricular writing as well.

We send 'show' work home - art work, display pieces of writing etc, and all books are available for all parents' meetings as well as during a summer 'open evening'.

If a parent wanted the books after we had finally finished with them - and for some subjects that might be 2 -3 years after the initial work done in them (so for example in RE, the Y3 book might continue to be used in Y4, then kept for Y5 for tracking as above) - then we wouldn't have a problem releasing them. But in general we have been met with 'why would I want this old tat?' so we tend to dispose of them.

teacherwith2kids Sun 01-Dec-13 11:04:16

(We can't just keep selected books. Ofsted, and our Pupil progress meetings, have asked for specific books by child's name as from the data they might be investigating particular performance issues related to particular groups of children. If I have only kept the books from selected children, I can't respond.)

friday16 Sun 01-Dec-13 11:43:57

We continue to use key books the next year - Maths, English, Topic, Science, RE - and then keep the books for a further year after the final entry so that the child's progress can be scrutinised at any point.

It's amazing how secondary schools manage to function at all, isn't it?

teacherwith2kids Sun 01-Dec-13 11:53:44

Secondary assessment seems to be much more based on 'summative' assessment - tests, key pieces of work etc - and those are wholly absent from DS's books as they are completed on paper or in test books that ARE retained by the school.

In primary, much more use is made of continuous 'formative' assessment, looking at a range of work that may be across different subjects - even e.g. the Year 6 writing SATs results are taken from a range of work that should be drawn from across subject areas.

As a result, the approach to books is be very different - surely it would be more surprising if it was the same?.

teacherwith2kids Sun 01-Dec-13 11:58:55

(So in secondary, the 'final leaving test' - GCSE / A-level - is primarily summative, and any other pieces of work which contribute to them are clearly separable from 'normal day to day work'.

In primary, the 'final leaving test' - KS2 SATs - for writing is based on a wide range of work, which is not always separated from normal day to day work, and teacher assessment of other subjects are equally based on day-to-day performance in the classroom.

Therefore, in the years leading up to those 'final points', the approach to assessment, and 'book keeping' reflect this difference....

Tbh, I am more saddened by the secondary approach to asssessment through 'high stakes' tests than I am worried by primary's wish to assess across a broad front of all that a child creates.)

dizzyday07 Sun 01-Dec-13 13:15:29

My DD is in Yr 4 and we have received her workbooks home at the end of every term/year at Infant school (Yr-Y2). We are not due to get her Yr3 books home until later on this school year as they were some of the ones kept back in case Ofsted wanted to see them.

I must admit that I haven't been through them checking the teachers were teaching her properly as I assume (perhaps naively) that they were!

spanieleyes Sun 01-Dec-13 13:38:06

I had a parent who came in and complained that she was unhappy with a level I had put upon a piece of work in her child's literacy book ( which she had seen at parents evening where all books are on display). She had looked the criteria up on the internet and disagreed with my judgement so wanted it changed! I was quite happy that I knew what I was looking for and declined. She then complained to the Head. Books didn't go home at the end of that year!

rabbitstew Sun 01-Dec-13 14:37:20

What a stupid way of dealing with one obnoxious parent, spanieleyes - I am getting really fed up with the notion that some schools deem it acceptable to treat all parents like unreasonable idiots. It is patronising and what's more, if a school expects the worst, or acts like it expects the worst, from ALL its parents, then it bloody well deserves to get it. If teachers treat the children in the school in the same way: ie treat them all as obnoxious troublemakers, then they would justly be roundly condemned as being an awful school.

I have been given my children's books a couple of years down the line and was fine with that. I would be livid if a school kept my children's work just to destroy it. That's not saving it for Ofsted, is it?

rabbitstew Sun 01-Dec-13 14:41:19

In fact, I have a lot less sympathy for teachers who claim they are treated like idiots by government if they just pass the compliment on to all parents. Treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself, please.

teacherwith2kids Sun 01-Dec-13 14:49:53

Rabbit, I'm with you, tbh.

If a school isn't prepared to defend its teachers' marking to parents, then I feel that tells you something about the school.

Send the books home with a brief overview of the marking policy, fine. Or keep them for a defined period then check whether they are still wanted by parents (as I have said, in our case it does seem to be that once they are 'releasable', parents don't want them, though they enjoy getting the 'display quality' work back as soon as we take the displays down). But not releasing them because parents may query them - what does it show about the school if they are worried about that type of query?

(I get DD's books from her primary, in general. Their marking policy is very different from my school's, and apart from an occasional green-eyed 'humph' I just accept that that difference exists)

mammadiggingdeep Sun 01-Dec-13 18:01:07

I've only had to do dispose of children's work once. It was an acting head who we had in place for one school year. It broke my heart seeing books in a skip. I actually couldn't bring myself to dump my classes work in the skip. I asked the caretaker to do it for me.

The children work so hard and we encourage them all year to take pride and to have a love of learning. It's tragic to throw it all away. Devalues the message we give them daily.

Perhaps the OP could create a survey monkey to find out if this is a widespread problem.

FWIW - we always get ours back eventually and I've never had any particular concerns over the quality of marking or comments.

pyrrah Sun 01-Dec-13 18:39:39

Good grief, I had no idea that this was even allowed.

My parents are moving house and finally kicking the last of their children's belongings out. I went to stay a few weeks ago and one of the boxes was all my school exercise books that my mother had kept. It was really fun to look at the pictures and read the stories and projects (and yes we might have had a bit of a look to see how big the difference was between my niece's work now and mine and my siblings at the same age).

I will be asking DD's school what their policy is tomorrow and if it's to scrap and/or burn then I will definitely be having a very stiff word with one of the governors (we're married so there will be no escape!)

SE13Mummy Mon 02-Dec-13 21:11:47

rabbitstew - I agree that it seems odd but there is a very vocal group of parents at the school who've gone to the press previously over lesser things so the HT is, not unreasonably, trying to protect himself and the school from such things.

My own children's school have no such excuse for chucking out the books - the only press coverage has been vomit-inducingly positive.

rabbitstew Mon 02-Dec-13 21:25:03

SE13Mummy - tbh, I think the HT is playing into the parents' hands. I don't see how a parent complaining to the press that the school doesn't know how to mark children's work properly and is now destroying the evidence is going to help! The only way to protect yourself from unreasonable parents is to be the reasonable one and patiently explain the school's marking policy - if it can be defended. If it can't, then maybe better to destroy the evidence. grin

Talkinpeace Mon 02-Dec-13 22:34:14

DCs school destroyed their books.
DD won a prize for her art work but the book went in the skip at the end of term (in full view of the parents and children) along with everybody elses

knowing this, with DS, we started sneaking books home all through year 6
but DDs drawings are gone forever

friday16 Mon 02-Dec-13 23:03:57

*DCs school destroyed their books.
DD won a prize for her art work but the book went in the skip at the end of term (in full view of the parents and children) along with everybody elses*

Some schools are just vile, aren't they?

Stormyhead Mon 02-Dec-13 23:14:45

DD won a prize for her art work but the book went in the skip at the end of term (in full view of the parents and children) along with everybody elses

What an awful thing! Despite my anger with my DC's school I haven't told the kids about it. I don't want them to know how little their hard work is valued. To skip prize winning work, along with everyone else's, just sends such a negative message to the kids - yes, we want you to work really hard, do your best, try harder, and then we're going to take all that hard work and effort that you did, and bin in front of your face! That's how much we value your efforts!

To be honest, I would have been tempted to skip dive - it's not confidential waste if it's in a skip. Once the books have been sent (secretly) for incineration, there is no way back from that.

mammadiggingdeep Tue 03-Dec-13 10:22:30

I would have been in that skip like a rat up a drain pipe!

PastSellByDate Tue 03-Dec-13 11:46:18

fascinating post & discussion

thanks OP

PastSellByDate Tue 03-Dec-13 11:58:09

Can I just say not all parents are concerned in the slightest about leveling

I want to keep my girls work because it's really fun to compare my work at a similar age (which my dear Mum lovingly saved) to their work. It's sort of a family tradition - books come out at Christmas/ summer and we have a laugh about my sloppy handwriting/ misspelled words and issues with the x7 times table. We look at school photos and report cards. We talk about our childhoods and listen to Grandpa talking about walking to school 'uphill both ways'.

I think schools forget that parents, Aunties/ Uncles and grandparents love this kind of thing.

My DD2 wrote a lovely poem about a trip to see her Aunt for homework in her log and I desperately want it back. I've written to the school 3 times asking for it and am still waiting.

Reading this thread - I'm now a bit frightened about what's happened to it.

Talkinpeace Tue 03-Dec-13 12:49:14

FWIW I wrote and complained repeatedly when I knew it was happening.
I was in fact a Governor.
The head said it was her policy and the CofG backed her up.

I have a few of my books from when I was a kid.
Its interesting to look and compare.
I will never have DDs year 5 and 6 books.

GoodnessKnows Tue 03-Dec-13 21:47:16

I've worked in a few state and private schools (teacher). Only one (private) school collected, stored and disposed of the children's books. It was to eliminate complaints from parents about poor marking. I was shocked!

PastSellByDate Sat 21-Dec-13 07:19:50

OK - after several e-mails finally I have received about half of my children's work from last school year. There has been no general return of work to families, although the school had promised this in a newsletter. I have very definitely been treated as if I'm being difficult/ outrageous to want this kind of thing back. (By the way the school said in a newsletter last school year all workbooks would be returned by October half-term - so that's where I got the impression workbooks would be returned).

In one of the e-mail exchanges with the school the Head Teacher outlined how I needed to understand my children's work is the school's property.

Anyone have an opinion on that out there?

I preface this with we are at a state maintained school - so ....

Call me mad but if taxpayers have paid for the pens, books, whiteboards, furniture, decor & teacher's time - I really am slightly perplexed why childrens' work isn't their own. It seems to me that sending childrens' work home closes the circle: e.g. taxpayers pay teachers to teach our children and sending evidence home that that is going on reassures families and by extension (their freinds, grandparents, relatives, etc...) that learning is going on in institutions we all fund.

It's about the need to be physically documenting the process not just taking it on trust. Personally I would prefer some examples (worksheets not destined to be glued into the formal 'workbooks', etc...) to be winging its way home to me at something more like weekly intervals, rather than the following school year.

I do totally get that teachers may need to retain maths/ English/ etc... workbooks to document assessment to HT/ SMT or OFSTED and that retaining them between years might help in handing over one class to another - but (and this may just be my great age) am I the only parent who is a bit perplexed that aside from seeing homework assignments and holiday related artwork made for family in school, none of my children's day to day work at school comes home. At present, I just get about 5 - 10 minutes to view workbooks prior to a parent/ teacher meeting.

Thought I'd express my confusion at all this and ask what others may be thinking out there. I'm interested to hear what others feel about return of school work to children/ their families (either side of this - teachers or parents)....

peppermintsticks Sat 21-Dec-13 11:03:31

Sigh. Taxpayers don't pay teachers, that's not how tax or the system works. You make some interesting points but when you start going on about taxpayers it rather invalidates them. Teachers pay taxes too and many of us are parents, we're not an alien breed.

Feenie Sat 21-Dec-13 13:14:29

Yep, agree with peppermintsticks - I agreed with everything you said, and then you totally lost my support with the taxpayer malarkey. Give over!

mammadiggingdeep Sat 21-Dec-13 16:37:16

Was also in agreement until taxpayer comment.

The head is being an arse to say its school property. Sure, they need to hang onto it for a while but eventually it's not needed and could be handed over.

mammadiggingdeep Sat 21-Dec-13 16:39:07

Oh and from a teacher's perspective I think all work should be handed over. I would love all parents to take an interest in the fantastic work my class produce. Unfortunately it has been known for us to find beautiful art work and published poems blowing up the road on the last day of term. Breaks my heart sad

mrz Sat 21-Dec-13 18:24:05

I'm afraid most of our children's work doesn't even make it through the school gate before it is dumped/binned. It's sad to hear a parent ask a child "what am I meant to do with all that crap?"

herdream1 Sat 21-Dec-13 21:33:38

I always wondered what is the real reason for the head teachers not wanting to return the workbooks home.
I think, the maths and literacy workbooks could be kept in the child's school bag all the time for the parents to see what is being taught on a daily basis, that would enable parents to support learning at home in line with the learning at school, rather than doing their own things at home. Would there be any problem for that?

Pooka Sat 21-Dec-13 21:37:55

Ours all come home at the end of summer term, although I suspect some samples are kept back for assessment/training/inspections.

To be completely honest, I don't actually want ALL of their books home. Leaves me with wounding what to DO with them without appearing like I don't care about my dcs and their work.

Pooka Sat 21-Dec-13 21:41:10

I'd never let on to the children though - and do hang on to maybe one writing book/particularly hard laboured topic book for example.

But they do so so so much work and there are so many books that I've already seen three times at open mornings, and I have three dcs. I look like w pack horse as I trudge back to the house with at least three carrier bags jam packed.

And of course I tell the dcs how proud I am of their work, at regular intervals.

mammadiggingdeep Sat 21-Dec-13 23:02:35

Her dream...the main probl with that would be that out of 40 children, on any one day approx 17 would have the bloody books in their bags. Honestly, you wouldn't believe the number if book bags/reading books/reading records that don't come in. Also, books need to be in school after school for marking/moderation and assessment purposes. All in all not very practical. Maybe a greater number if parent 'book look' opportunities would be a starter?

teacherwith2kids Sat 21-Dec-13 23:18:37


It would be an issue from the marking point of view, tbh. I mark books overnight for the next morning, as I do not have the time within the school day to mark all 32 books for each subject. Extended writing in English, or a detailed assessment piece can take me a couple of hours or more for a set of books (sounds a lot, but it still only means 4 or 5 minutes per book), though Maths is usually a little quicker.

In the course of an average day, I generally have around 35 minutes 'non contact' time at lunchtime, though there are often meetings during that time and I have to eat, go to the toilet as well as set up resources for the next block of lessons. Some days various commitments whittle that lunch break to 10 or 5 minutes - certainly not enough time to mark 32 books x 2 subjects in detail! In lessons, I am always with children, teaching - never any opportunity for marking during those.

When did you think that the books might be marked under your scheme?

mrz Sun 22-Dec-13 07:50:34

I was just going to say that teacherwith2kids. I'm sat here now with a pile of English and Maths books marking.
The other issue is what happens when the child forgets or loses their school bag? I have a battle to get reading books returned once a week never mind daily. Sorry herdream but totally impractical.

herdream1 Sun 22-Dec-13 13:25:16

Thank you very much for the replies. I do see the point, i.e. the difficulty in marking if the workbooks were taken home everyday.

My DD attends a foreign language course on Saturdays, where I have seen meticulous planning is in place. Children keep in their school bag; one textbook, two workbooks and two notebooks. The teachers give some marks on these books during the lessons or keep some of them until the following week for marking. There is a test every Saturday which the teacher keeps for marking and return to the children in the following week together with marked printed out homeworks. There is no communication issue between the teachers and parents.

Probably with a good planning, the children can take maths and literacy workbooks once a week or so? That will still update the parents on the child's progress.

Feenie Sun 22-Dec-13 13:45:22

But there is still the issue that at least half would not come back for the next lesson.

herdream1 Sun 22-Dec-13 14:00:08

Yes, that is right, Feenie. It would be a shame if those who are willing to work hard were to miss out opportunities, because of those who are not willing.

Maybe make it an option to take the workbooks home or not?

mrz Sun 22-Dec-13 15:20:38

They all want to take them home, that isn't the problem I'm afraid.

duchesse Sun 22-Dec-13 16:02:52

The people speaking ill of Stormy's Chair of Governors forget that school headteachers are employed and answerable to the Board of Governors, who as the governing body and ultimate appeal in a school are not the poodle either of the HT or of the LEA, to be removed if they become inconvenient to the staff.

Yes they should abide by their code of conduct but if they are having problems with a HT they appointed, then they need to have all the evidence they can get their hands on to act in the best interests of the school. Removing the CoG rather than the HT in some situations would be quite the worst thing that could be done for the CHILDREN, who are the ultimate point of a school; not the parents, not the LEA, not the teachers or HT.

My DC have been in a school where the HT most definitely needed to go (and did in the end, to Ofsted as an inspector hmm ). I would have been very thankful for a CoG who was on the ball enough to get information straight from the horse's mouth rather than believing the horseshit coming from the HT.

mrz Sun 22-Dec-13 16:37:15

Head teachers are employed by the LEA not the board of governors in fact head teachers are members of the board of governors

jamdonut Tue 24-Dec-13 17:12:52

I don't know if this has already been mentioned, but our books are kept to go to the next teacher so that there is continuity of work. (This is since our days in special measures - book scrutiny) Ofsted inspectors sometimes ask to see older books to check progression. So last year our year 4's went home with books from when they were in year 2!

But I agree a lot of parents don't want them sent home! They do indeed say, "what am I supposed to do with all this crap?"! I have heard it myself sad

If someone does a particularly good piece of work we will sometimes photocopy it and send it home for the child to show their parents.

Feenie Tue 24-Dec-13 17:52:19

We do the carrying books on too, jamdonut.

mrz Tue 24-Dec-13 19:15:18

We carry on books too but any full books are sent home

overthemill Tue 24-Dec-13 19:43:17

At the school I have recently stopped working at we ask kids to take books home and most can't be bothered. We have assessed work in a special folder and that specifically gets shown to parents at parents evenings tho they are welcome to look at books too. We pass folders on to new teacher at end of school year. Any parent is welcome at any time to look at books and our marking comments. Our marking is moderated and of course ofsteded. And we look at each other's marking too to ensure a high standard.
I don't think parents 'own' the books. The taxes we all pay (inc vat council tax etc) are put into a huge pot and redistributed by central govt to local govt and the LEA. Just as I can't opt out of paying towards the armed forces and can't demand my own personal police officer because I pay taxes.

duchesse Wed 25-Dec-13 11:51:36

Oh yes, just what children to grow up happy and healthy- a keen understanding of the balance sheet behind their education. Never mind keepsakes/memories, interested parents, etc. hmm

Every time I read a thread like in which teachers are justifying decisions that re horrible for children I want to remove my child even further from mainstream education.

mrz Wed 25-Dec-13 12:14:25

There isn't any need for teachers to justify decisions duchess, they are simply pointing out that you need to get your facts right have a merry Christmas

duchesse Wed 25-Dec-13 13:53:23

mrz- I am a flipping teacher!

mrz Wed 25-Dec-13 14:35:22

then I would expect you to know who employs headteachers

duchesse Wed 25-Dec-13 16:56:13

I should have thought it would have been perfectly obvious from the context that I meant "employed" in the sense of "appointed".

Feenie Wed 25-Dec-13 17:19:09

Not really, duchesse - to be fair, they both mean different things.

Wouldn't disposal of books be more to do with the day to day running of the school, anyway?

Nonie241419 Fri 27-Dec-13 11:20:41

The school I work at leaves it up to the individual teacher to decide whether to send books. My job share prefers not to, so we don't. We do send home books made up from their topic work, and they have a special writing book which has 4-5 pieces of writing in per year, which we save to send home in Year 6.
My sons bring their books home and I always find it a hassle to know what to do with them, as I feel mean throwing them away, but we really don't have the storage space to keep years worth of books.

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