How much written documentation do you get re what goes on at school?

(33 Posts)
whatalovelyday Wed 03-Oct-12 06:55:11

At our school we (sometimes) get a termly overview of the topic covered and some of the subtopics - one A4 sheet per term. That's it. Because my dd tells me very little about school I know very little about her day to day life there. Except that she seems happy so I know I don't need to worry, but I don't feel massively able to support her without more info. She's year 1 by the way, so still very little. It's a lovely school, but I do feel the communication could be better.

Ideally I'd like: a timetable, list of all staff working with class (eg specialist music, TAs etc), and a brief weekly update of what they're doing. This could be in the classroom window, or just a copy of the planning documents. No detail - just a list of what they are doing in a week.

Is this something I could reasonably suggest to the school to improve parental engagement? What do people get in other schools? What do teachers give out?

Bunnyjo Thu 04-Oct-12 17:30:32

DD just turned 5 at the end of Aug and is in Yr 1. Though she was streamed up at the end of last term, along with a couple of her cohort, and is in a mixed class of Yr2 and Yr3.

We get a half termly newsletter from the class teacher. In that, she details the structure of the day (i.e. times they do core skills, Music, PE, ICT etc), what subject they are covering for the creative curriculum, what homework they will be bringing home, and on what days, and what their individual targets are for that half term. There are weekly generic school letters which detail things that generally apply to the school as a whole, such as assemblies and the like. DD attends a small village school and her teacher and TA are always available at the start and end of the day to speak to.

Personally, I am happy with the level of communication from DD's school, I don't think it is necessary or appropriate to have a copy of the planning notes - anonymous or otherwise. As the teachers on here have pointed out, the planning is often organic and the needs of the child(ren) mean that sometimes their plans aren't adhered to.

whatalovelyday Thu 04-Oct-12 14:09:46

Thank you Pipsqueak, you've put it very clearly. It's not about being a pushy annoying parent, it's just about trying to support your child and the school in their learning.

WowOoo Thu 04-Oct-12 13:47:32

At ds1's school they have a huge 'learning tree' poster on display at the back of the classroom.

It's for the children, but parents can easily see what they are doing in different subjects.
It's very brief - but perfectly adequate from my point of view.

noramum Thu 04-Oct-12 13:36:25

Hm, I would love it but I can see that it would be a lot of work for the teacher. And as DD is just in Y1 I doubt something like a strict timetable exists.

DD tells me they do daily exercise in writing, maths and reading. The rest is a bit of a blur. Sometimes like yesterday we got a sudden information about the Sukkot-festival they talked about in RE.

We get a weekly newsletter announcing special days for the whole school (Infant School) like Science or Book or Maths Days. Often at pick-up time there is a board in the playground with photos of the activities.

But: once a term they have a class assembly where they talk about what topic they had (they have two, each half-term one) and show what they did. After the assembly the parent has 5 minutes with its child to have a look at their work. During the termly parent evening we are invited to browse through the workbooks and the artwork on display.

So we see a lot after it happened.

MRSJWRTWR Thu 04-Oct-12 13:27:37

At DS2's school (Y2) we received a booklet at the beginning of term outlining 'topics' being covered. We were given a timetable which I find really useful to remind me when the various equipment needed for swimming, PE, music etc is required. We also get a little photocopied handwritten note stapled into his diary at the end of the week, telling us what they've been doing in numercy ie. weights and measures and literacy, topics etc. At his previous school we received nothing just a weekly newsletter that covered general information for the whole school.

margerykemp Thu 04-Oct-12 13:07:21

Have you considered homeschooling?

It isabigshift from the involvement you have when they are in nursery to the distance at school but you have to either accept that, maybe go private or homeschool.

Pipsqueak99 Thu 04-Oct-12 13:03:03

I should also add we have a curriculum evening at the beginning of each term too where we meet his teachers and they discuss what the plan is for the year and how they approach the subjects and what support or approach they want from us at home.

Pipsqueak99 Thu 04-Oct-12 13:00:14

I do understand exactly what you are getting at whatalovely.
At DS school we get a timetable for the term and a detailed breakdown of the topics covered over each half of the term. DS teacher also photocopies and posts up a copy of her planning notes (I assume this is what they are?) for each week, outside the classroom (it contains rough scribbles and references to plans and books and notes that I have no clue about, as well as an overview of what she is planning for that week).

I find all of this invaluable as a discussion point for DS. I try to talk about the topic being covered during the next week over the weekend and try to refernce anything we happen to be doing at home that is related. I also ask him every day "what did you do in music today" or "did you enjoy swimming". There are plenty of times when he might say "I didn't do x, y or z today because...........the teacher was away, we had a concert or whatever. And then we can talk about that instead. He also has a copy of his school timetable posted up in his bedroom so that we can look at it every day and see what he is doing/help him to plan his bags etc. etc.

I find it really valuable as a tool to bridge the gap between home and school and so that I can support him at school. I don't view any of these things as documents set in stone and wouldn't consider questioning why a weeks plan had changed a bit or why certain lessons hadn't happened as planned each week. DS's teachers seem to really appreciate and value the mutual two way exchange of information that occurs as a result.

BirdyBedtime Thu 04-Oct-12 12:50:09

I came to this thread to post what we get IRT what DD does at school - 'meet the teacher' at the start of the year, monthly one side of A4 setting out key areas they'll be covering. It's probably enough (and maybe more than some get), but I'd like more and I'm quite shock at the suggestion that parent's shouldn't be interested in what their children are doing at school - particularly the comment about excessive questioning. Surely parents who care about their children should be interested in what they are doing - luckily my DD would talk us through every minute of the day if she got the chance, but DS (even though still at nursery) just says 'played' and if that continues, I'll be competely in the dark about what he has learned.

I have to say that if one of the teachers in our school said something like "I am far too busy for an hour before school writing rubbish on blackboards to appease parents. " - I'd really be miffed.

whatalovelyday Thu 04-Oct-12 12:28:58

Juniper and Alcofrolic, ok so take your point that planning is a more organic process, and I wouldn't expect to see your professional notes on different children!

How about then a brief diary at the end of the week? I'm really only talking eight lines - the kids could even do it themselves. A state school up the road apparently does this - friday afternoon a few kids and a TA write a little newsletter. But I'd be happy with something up in the classroom window.

I think you are misunderstanding my interest. I don't interrogate dd. I don't expect to know every moment of her day. I try to show interest but respect her privacy. But at the moment the feeling of knowing absolutely nothing, well that doesn't feel right either.

juniper904 Wed 03-Oct-12 23:54:32

I too spend the best part of Sunday planning, and then change and adjust them throughout the week. So no, there is no definite overview of the week. It evolves, based on the children's needs. Like others have said, my plans detail which children are free school meals, which are SEN and how they are supported, which children are struggling and what the levels are. There's no way I'd share that with parents.

Maybe DC don't share the details of their day because it seems like a inquisition. There are 101 ways to converse about the school day- I'd recommend open ended questions such as 'what did you enjoy today?' rather than 'what did you learn in literacy?', especially as little ones probably don't realise that the different parts of the day have different titles.

alcofrolic Wed 03-Oct-12 23:29:41

I imagine that's a private school notmore, with a far different intake to ours. I know that we wouldn't receive all books back on a Tuesday.

What a lovely I don't really think you're understanding what 'planning' is. It is a working document, and is not set in stone (at all). On Monday I intended most of the class to be adding tens and units, but by Wednesday, I have found that the children's addition and subtraction of units is dire, so I've completely changed what I'm doing for the rest of the week. I would not want to lay myself open to parents' questioning WHY I haven't stuck to my plans. It would be an unnecessary hassle. If a child is having a particular problem, I talk to the parent about specific support at home.

We send a curriculum map for the half-term, and notes in home reading diaries if we would like specific things practised (e.g counting money), as and when things arise.

whatalovelyday Wed 03-Oct-12 23:19:45

that's what i'm after football - nothing more complicated - and certainly not as a tool by which to hold teachers accountable - no prob if it changes - just be nice to have a clue.

NotMoreFootball Wed 03-Oct-12 23:16:30

The timetable we receive is so we know which specialist subject they have each day so we know when library books or recorders etc are needed, I don't think anybody really wants to know what specific time they have having phonics or numeracy on a certain day.
The planning email we receive each week is as simple as:
Math - subtraction and addition (please practice counting money with your child)
Science - Landform and Erosion
Grammar - compound sentences
I would never expect a detailed plan for every individual child to be sent home every week and if a teacher changed their mind and decided to teach weather instead of erosion I'm sure the parents would not be demanding their resignation!
Every child in the school (year 1 - year 11) receives their work to bring home every Monday and return the next day and the system has worked well for many years. There is a very positive atmosphere around the school and nobody is constantly trying to grab the teachers for updates on their child as we can see for ourselves how they are doing.

whatalovelyday Wed 03-Oct-12 23:07:13

So as a teacher you think it's really think it's better if parents are in the dark and leave you to get on with it? Surely all the evidence shows that interested and engaged parents are key to helping children succeed at school (and i"m not talking about bombarding with questions - just wouldn't mind the odd bit of info). I'm amazed it surprises you that I'm interested to know what they're covering. Isn't that why everyone's getting sent on parent engagement courses left right and centre? Clearly this sort of info sharing works successfully at other schools mentioned on this thread so some heads are managing to build in time for their teachers to prepare the information.

TheBuskersDog Wed 03-Oct-12 22:57:45

"I'm really not after anything very detailed - just some headlines so i can start some dialogue with my dd - otherwise I feel quite alienated from her education, which at 5 can't be good?

As for timetables, we'd like them so we can say "how was music today?" and so we can know which teachers they've spent time with. Remember some children, young ones in particular, really don't tell us anything, and that's quite a big leap, especially in reception, to go from a life where your parents know almost everything about your day to almost nothing."

Most children, even much older ones don't tell you anything either. When they're at secondary school you know exactly what lessons they have everyday, it's still like getting blood out of a stone to know what they have done that day.

alcofrolic Wed 03-Oct-12 22:57:00

I really can't see the point '*whatalovely*. I am far too busy for an hour before school writing rubbish on blackboards to appease parents. Surely, as a parent, you don't want (or need) to follow the school curriculum at home? Home is the place to expand the children's education, not to continue the same old stuff as at school - that would be pretty boring!

Maybe your children aren't telling you anything because they're fed up with being bombarded with questions every day about things that, in their eyes, are over and done with. Why would a 5 year old want to tell you what they'd done in 'music' (what is 'music' to a 5 year old?) when all he wants to do is pick up his ds, run round the garden, play with the dog and have some fish fingers? And what would you do with the information that he had 'done music'?

whatalovelyday Wed 03-Oct-12 22:39:09

Teachers, would it feel too much to scribble on a blackboard by the classroom entrance for example on a Monday morning: This week we're doing: Shapes, what grows on trees, what lives under the ground, interviews. Or do you not know that much at the start of a week?

I'm really not after anything very detailed - just some headlines so i can start some dialogue with my dd - otherwise I feel quite alienated from her education, which at 5 can't be good?

As for timetables, we'd like them so we can say "how was music today?" and so we can know which teachers they've spent time with. Remember some children, young ones in particular, really don't tell us anything, and that's quite a big leap, especially in reception, to go from a life where your parents know almost everything about your day to almost nothing.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 03-Oct-12 22:16:41

In principle, we get a newsletter at the beginning of term, with the topics for the term and various useful stuff about which days they are doing PE etc. This year, they have also introduced a "meet the teacher" evening when they are going to tell us similar stuff, plus what their expectations are for the year.

We used also to get a very short report in about Oct, with our child's current targets on. But to be honest, they were usually out of date by the time a week had gone past!

AbigailS Wed 03-Oct-12 22:10:35

“I'm sure the teachers must have the weekly planning ready for the following week by the Friday evening.” smile This made me smile and is typical of the misconceptions about a teacher's job. Unfortunately this is not the case at my school. That’s what our weekends are for! For literacy and numeracy I check my assessments from the week before and the children’s books and plan from there. Over the weekend I thoroughly plan Monday’s sessions and outline Tuesday and Wednesday. If I’m to build on the learning of the session before there is no point in planning in any depth for other sessions as I may need to go off at a complete tangent based on how things have gone in the lesson before. (For example my draft medium term plan has a week on place value, then a week on varying calculation strategies using two digit numbers. However place value work was shaky, so over the weekend I decided to continue it for three more days until it was more secure, then only taught adding a single digit number to a two digit number.)

I agree sending books home would be a nightmare in my school, each week we would have a number of children without their books returned (some would be permanently lost, others just forgotten that morning or left at non-residential parent’s so unavailable for the rest of the week). Work would need to be done on bits of paper and stuck in (hopefully) at a later date. Any comments in my marking to improve the next piece or clarify a misconception would be lost out on and that would also make building a book of evidence challenging.

I also had to decline a parent’s request for all my planning each week. Planning is a working document. It is in my own short hand. It has children’s names all over it, including SEN details, so it is confidential. I really don’t have the time to photocopy my plans and obliterate the references to other children and expand my comments so they actually made sense to the parent. I did provide a timetable for a parent, but primary schools are so flexible they got upset that their child hadn’t had science on the afternoon timetabled due to visitors in school, and the following week we had to swap art and PE due the school photographer … Again, as a teacher it caused me so many problems and extra meetings with these parents to explain it all I did not send the next term’s timetable home.

Sorry to sound so negative. I agree parent involvement is crucial, but logistics make the level that some parents want totally unmanageable. At least all schools should be adding curriculum information by year and subject to their websites now.

alcofrolic Wed 03-Oct-12 21:26:47

Our children have trouble remembering home reading diaries each day. How they would remember to bring back all their work books on Tuesday, I have no idea. That is putting a lot of trust in parents, and I bet it's a nightmare. Not everyone is as diligent or reliable as you 'notmore'.

It wouldn't be appropriate for parents to see my plans, as they are differentiated for specific groups of named children. I would be unwilling to put in the extra work of producing an annotated version for parents as it would be a complete waste of my time. My plans are detailed and I spend lots of time producing them. I do this for the education of the children in my class - not for their parents.

I plan maths day by day and literacy lessons evolve during the week, depending on the children's understanding. Planning is personal to the teacher - it guides the immediate lesson and feeds into a series of lessons.

I would take exception to having to report back to parents why I hadn't covered something one week, because it had been written on the plan, when in fact, I had changed plans mid week to tailor them to the children's learning needs.

Why you need timetables is beyond me. I hope someone explains that one.

alcofrolic Wed 03-Oct-12 21:25:41

Our children have trouble remembering home reading diaries each day. How they would remember to bring back all their work books on Tuesday, I have no idea. That is putting a lot of trust in parents, and I bet it's a nightmare. Not everyone is as diligent or reliable as you 'notmore'.

It wouldn't be appropriate for parents to see my plans, as they are differentiated for specific groups of named children. I would be unwilling to put in the extra work of producing an annotated version for parents as it would be a complete waste of my time. My plans are detailed and I spend lots of time producing them. I do this for the education of the children in my class - not for their parents.

I plan maths day by day and literacy lessons evolve during the week, depending on the children's understanding. Planning is personal to the teacher - it guides the immediate lesson and feeds into a series of lessons.

I would take exception to having to report back to parents why I hadn't covered something one week, because it had been written on the plan, when in fact, I had changed plans mid week to tailor them to the children's learning needs.

Why you need timetables is beyond me. I hope someone explains that one.

NotMoreFootball Wed 03-Oct-12 18:49:03

I think that sending the work home once a week for us to see is the most valuable form of communication we get from the school. I can see exactly were he is going wrong (or right!), in his previous school we only saw their work twice a year on parents evening when we had a rushed 5 minutes to look through everything. Already this year I can see that it's comprehension which is giving him the most trouble so I can help him with that at home.
The work all has to be marked and graded anyway so I don't see how there is any extra work involved with the teacher sending it home to look at, all the parents are happy with this and there doesn't seem to be any problems with people forgetting to send the work back to school!
The weekly email is only a few lines long and covers all the sentinel topics for the following week, I can't see it taking more than a few minutes to write as I'm sure the teachers must have the weekly planning ready for the following week by the Friday evening.

whatalovelyday Wed 03-Oct-12 18:38:02

Wow that sounds wonderful. Last year during a trickly patch my dd's teacher grabbed me for ten seconds at the end of the day to tell me three highlights from the day. It was invaluable for me helping my daughter who was a bit stressed by school at that point. I really don't think it would take long to jot it in an email to send to parents, and because they could then support the school's work surely in the long run it would make school's jobs a bit easier in other ways? Currently we don't even get a timetable or names of specialist teachers our children work with. It's all a mystery, which can't be ideal for anyone, can it?

NotMoreFootball Wed 03-Oct-12 18:31:09

At the beginnning of the year we got a copy of the timetable (with all the specialist teachers on) and we get an email every Friday from the class teacher which tells us which topics they will be covering in each subject the following week for my DS in Yr3. The school also sent us a calendar at the start of the year with all the holiday dates, sporting fixtures etc on, the headmaster sends out an email every Wednesday with little updates on, we get a whole school newsletter via email every Monday and the Sport depts send out emails virtually everyday with results and upcoming events on!
All my DS's work from the week is marked and then sent home to us every Monday evening for us to see, we then sign a cover sheet to confirm we've seen it and it's all sent back to school. I feel as if I know every single thing that he is doing in school and everything that is going on in school around him and I haven't even been inside the school since the start of term!

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