DS not coping with teacher

(54 Posts)
jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 12:19:30

DS (age 10) is in year 6 at primary school and I’ve been having problems with him for the last couple of months that are getting worse each week. He seems to have lost his self-confidence and I think its down to his overly critical teacher who is at the end of her career.

I don't know what to do though. I've tried talking to him to make him see sense but it only works for a while and then something else happens. I suspect she thinks that sniping at the children will make them try harder but in DS's case, he is just giving up (on himself). Its a shame because he's never struggled with the work but now he believes that he's just not good enough.

She's only part-time and some other parents have made written complaints but I don't think the head can do anything and anyway she'll probably retire soon.

Any thoughts?

amarmai Sat 03-Oct-15 01:40:31

If you decide not to home school, make sure your son understands that the teacher is at fault not him. She is failing not him.. Perhaps put this bad experience in the context that he will not always get good teachers. Make your complaints with as much proof as you can muster. This is not acceptable for your son or the others who are being harmed. Insist on seeing the notebooks as they may also give you ammunition.

var123 Wed 30-Sep-15 20:33:50

cansu - thanks for replying, but did you notice that I've come back and updated an old thread. It turned out that I was not quick enough to judge...

cansu Wed 30-Sep-15 20:05:40

Tbh you need to make an appointment and listen to her take on how he is at school. Nothing in what you have said screams out that she is singling him out or is a bad teacher. You seem a bit too ready to blame the teacher for your ds seeming unhappy. I think you could be over thinking it. He will also pick up on your feelings and being year 6 will milk this for all its worth. Go and see her. Ask if he is behaving in class. Is he getting into trouble? How does she see him? You might be surprised. It may reassure you. If nothing else you can ask her to try and boost his confidence.

jrrtolkien2015 Wed 30-Sep-15 06:06:30

It was only when I read my old post last night, that I realised how much DS had changed. I have got used to having a son who is full of self-doubt.

I've no idea why this teacher did not like him. He was (still is) quiet, well-behaved, hardworking, high-achieving and mature. One of those things, or the combination, got under her skin.

My big regret is being afraid of jumping in before I was sure there was a problem. DS was telling me from October of year 6 that he was unhappy and that he was afraid of upsetting the teacher but didn't know how to avoid it. My first response was to keep his head down and accept that he will have many different personalities of teachers when he got to secondary school so he needed to learn to cope with all of them, including the ones like this teacher.

By December, things were getting worse and I started to pay attention, but I still held back. Other parents were complaining and I could see that the HT was doing nothing, so I thought DS would just have to bear it. I didn't realise that she was singling DS out for criticism. It was only when some of the things that she was writing to Ds started to come home that I realised that there was a real problem. I kept trying to keep an open-mind and give her the benefit of the doubt.

TBH, it was only when she turned on me later in the year that I finally realised just how bad it must have been for DS. She left me shaking and near tears after one encounter, and I am an adult, who was not under her control, didn't have to see her the next day and had her measure! What must it have been like for DS?

DS came home last night quite stressed because he had struggled in DT yesterday. It was something and nothing that had stressed him out. That's the scar she has left on him.

Why the hell did I not trust my own child when he was telling me there was a problem?! The HT must have suspected that all was not well and the TAs would have been witnesses, why did everyone look the other way!

RockinHippy Wed 30-Sep-15 00:32:36

I've only just spotted your update & that it was an old post - they sound to be the same age

I am so sorry that your hardworking, bright DS (& other similar DCs here) are like my DD affected in this way, it is just so wrong sad

I'm still hoping that somehow DD will pull out of it, we work really hard on it, but so far, that bitch has ruined her angry

RockinHippy Wed 30-Sep-15 00:15:12

jjrtolkien this sounds so scarily familiar that I almost want to ask if you are local to me & if your DS goes to same first primary my DD did.

If my experience is anything to go by, just get him out of there & pdq & don't look back - I tried reasoning, I tried complaining, I tried fighting - in the end I had to pull DD out of school & home school for a few months until we got her in elsewhere. Thankfully she took her SATs at an amazing little school that further compounded just how bad things were - but her confidence was so shredded that she took vety ill during SATs with a stress related gastric issue, she still refused to go home though, ending up with her being rushed into hospital just after the last SATs test.

My DD is now year 8 & her confidence with the subjects this teacher was draughted in to get the kids through their SATs for, is STILL in tatters, despite like your boy, her being G&T up yo year 6 - this teacher threatened & then removed DD from the G&T register, then threatened her with bottom group.

I later found out by reading the OFSTED report, that the school had been in trouble for failing the brighter kids at SATs, so the pressure was on & this was their way of dealing with it.

I home schooled her for all bar the last few weeks & she did really well in her SATs, despite that & her health problems

If I can do it, you certainly can

goingmadinthecountry Tue 29-Sep-15 23:45:54

This makes me so sad. Dd1 has a great degree, but there are still wounds she carries from a badly managed primary school. Two things guide me as a teacher. First, all children have the right to learn, and other children do not have the right to disturb that learning through poor behaviour. Secondly, parents trust me to look after their little people all day. I have a duty to make that day as happy and productive as possible. It's really not hard.

I really hope your dis has a positive experience at secondary school.

haironfire Tue 29-Sep-15 22:00:41

I'm really sorry this happened to your son OP. My DS went through something similarly nasty with bullying by a teacher and I changed schools but it took 12 months and the fallout took 12 months to remedy with a similarly unresponsive head teacher.

jrrtolkien2015 Tue 29-Sep-15 04:08:21

The Y6 teacher reluctantly gave me an appointment to see her. I had to ask twice, a week apart, before she'd give the appointment and then wait a further 10 days for her to find time to see me. The appointment was set for a Monday after school, just before the February half-term.

Things were getting worse and worse for DS, and I took to asking him every day how things were. The Friday before the appointment was another bad day. I told DS is the car going home that I was going to see the teacher the following Monday.

He started begging me (on his knees) not to do it. He said she's take it out on him. I was at my wits end, so I called the HT when I got home. I was beyond furious that this situation had been allowed to deteriorate so much and, frankly, DS needed the HT's assurances that there would be no comeback on him if we were to have any kind of peace that weekend.

The HT heard what i said but she was giving very bland assurances. This made me even angrier as I felt she was not taking it seriously, so I said that I'd bring an official complaint if it wasn't resolved soon.

That Monday afternoon, I finally met the teacher. She was on a charm offensive, totally unlike her regular persona that I'd encountered previously.

I was also allowed to look at Ds's books for the first time (even though i had asked to see them weeks earlier). All the things that DS had said were there but she'd gone through and later written additional comments that softened things or at least met some of the basic requirements (such as saying what DS needed to do to improve).

I could tell the comments had been added later because the first comment was written in the middle of the space and the second was squeezed in at the bottom, or a different (green) pen had been used for the two comments that were supposed to have been written at the same time. I pretended not to notice.

My reading of the situation was that DS had been telling the truth and he had not been overreacting. However, the teacher clearly had realised that she would have to stop and that going forward, I'd be watching closely. So, although I would have rather Ds hadn't had to go through it, I couldn't change the past and things would be better going forward.

The other Y6 teacher (who was also present at the meeting) offered to take Ds aside and speak encouragingly to him, which she later did and it helped.

The teacher, managed to be civil to DS from then on. He just became a normal member of the class and he didn't feel singled out any longer. However, (unbelievably!), she turned her attentions onto me! I used to volunteer in the school - but nothing to do with her - and she took the opportunity to say a few unpleasant, and unnecessary things to me in the next few months. The worst was when she strongly implied that i was a negligent parent for not having taught DS about sex (that was in front of another parent and the school secretary - so there were witnesses).

She later retired (before my other child got to her class).

Ds was never the same again though. Something changed in him at that time . Ever since then, he gets anxious easily and he lacks self-confidence even now, nearly three years later. He still does well academically, but he doesn't have the self-belief any more.

I know people change as they grow up, but I really believe that this has had a long lasting, negative impact on my son. If I could go back and have my time again, I would intervene much sooner and take the risk of looking like a helicopter parent.

jrrtolkien2015 Tue 29-Sep-15 03:30:48

I know this is an old thread but its my old thread! i was just deleting some old watched threads and found this one, so i thought maybe someone is going through something similar and would appreciate an update.

Saracen Mon 28-Jan-13 23:25:00

"I could home school because I am a SAHM. I did actually think toy with the idea this weekend because I don't think he is going to last until July. I can't decide if it would do more harm than good because it will give him a message that he can't take it?? On the other hand, leaving him under her influence doesn't seem like a healthy thing either. I just don't know."

Taking your son out of school for six months does not have to mean giving him the message that he can't take it. You could instead give him the message that he doesn't have to take it, that he deserves to be treated with kindness and respect. A teacher who writes "FAIL" across the top of a child's paper does not belong in a classroom. If she were beating him and you didn't think it could be resolved quickly through the usual channels, I assume you would take him out. Is the situation any different because she is "only" ripping his confidence to shreds? It could still have very bad consequences.

The great thing about home educating for the rest of this year is that when he starts high school in the autumn everyone else will be new too. No one will pay any particular attention to the fact that he has been doing something a bit different. Starting secondary school can be scary for any child, but it's bound to be easier for a child who believes in himself than one who has come to believe he is utterly useless.

Besides bolstering your son's self-esteem, a spell of home education could also be good for him academically. If there is too much SATs-related anxiety and drilling in the school, I don't suppose there is much real learning going on, especially for any children who are becoming so anxious they cannot concentrate. You could take the time to focus productively but without pressure on any areas which your son might genuinely need to work on, giving him the benefit of one-to-one attention and the opportunity to work at his own pace until he really understands. If he doesn't actually need help with anything in particular, you might let him have a break to explore something completely different which he enjoys and is unlikely to get the chance to do at school.

Euphemia Mon 28-Jan-13 17:42:11

"you must do better"

If that's all she writes, that's completely unacceptable. Formative assessment and Assessment is For Learning have been around long enough for her to have caught up.

How's a child meant to know how to improve their work?!

WhatKindofFool Mon 28-Jan-13 16:40:45

You need to talk to the head or to her. They cannot refuse to meet you. I really think that talking to her would be a first step. Just because she doesn't interact with parents in a general sense doesn't mean that she will not have a meeting with you.

As for being rated "Outstanding" - Well, that is just the performance in an observed lesson which she will have had prior notice about.

RaisinBoys Mon 28-Jan-13 15:47:04

I'd give DS a hug (even though it's not cool!), and then another one.

I'd speak to Head/Key stage leader urgently and express all concerns & show evidence and ask what specifically will be done to address the issues.

The negative self perception brought on by teacher's attitude (and possibly other things) needs to be addressed head on and nipped in the bud.

Hope things improve very soon.

allyfe Mon 28-Jan-13 15:33:24

You need to get advice from the LEA, if you aren't comfortable telling them who you are, or where the school is, they should still be able to advise you.

I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but you do not know what is going on in the teachers private life, it could be something which is causing her behaviour to be abnormal in terms of her teaching quality, but the effect it is having on your child is dramatic and personally I don't think it is acceptable, and I think you trying to do something about it doesn't turn you into a nightmare mother, just a concerned one. Particularly if there are other parents who are concerned.

We should certainly respect teachers as a profession, but with all professions, if they are not doing their job acceptably you have the right to complain. But, if you find the idea of complaining difficult then don't think of it like that. Basically, you have every right and responsibility to raise a major concern about your child's emotional and academic well-being with your headteacher/LEA. In my view, it doesn't make you a trouble maker, it just makes you a concerned parent. I don't think that it has to effect your younger child because the teacher in question won't be teaching your younger child, whomever is teaching them will be teaching the child, not the child's parent (if you know what I mean).

Deciding to home school at this stage could also make your child feel like a failure because you will dramatically changing his learning environment in response to something at school.

What about talking to your class rep (if you have one) and seeing if other parents are concerned? It doesn't have to be a witch hunt, expressing concerns about how children are feeling and learning is not the same as complaining about a teacher.

I've rambled, but just because I was so touched by your plight. I'm really hoping for a positive outcome for you and your son.

Some teachers were schooled and trained under a very different system and have not taken on board the current practice, this teacher from your description appears to be one of them.

Just a thought, if you do leave him in the school you could get him a tutor so that he has a different more positive experience of learning that might boost his confidence. Also the SATs are not marked by the teacher which is a good thing if her marking is so poor.

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 14:25:17

But why stress out a child who was at level 5 before he got to year 6? Wouldn't it be easier to leave him be and just improve through practice? DS has lost so much confidence in his ability, that I think she's at risk of losing a sure-fire 5 and getting a 4 instead.

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 14:22:40

StitchAteMySleep - thanks for all that. The SATS paper was not marked in line with the marking scheme, and that was very evident when I looked at the scheme. There were all sorts of advisory notes and some of DS's answers were almost word for word what the marking scheme said was acceptable.

Strangely, i get the sense that it was writing "FAIL" on the paper that most bothered the teacher when it was pointed out. She didn't even respond abotut he mismarked questions, but was very keen to make sure that DS knew that she hadn't mentioned the fail word and it was his fault for mis-hearing it (But she did and I have a copy of it).

Similarly for the books I've asked for today, i have a feeling that I won't get her ones, just the work for the other teacher. And again the reason will be because she won't want me to see her negative comments written in black and white.

Do you still have the paper? Constructive marking is good practice, simply putting fail without helping the child is not on. Also there is a mark scheme so there shouldn't be any room for incorrect marking.

I would sit down with your ds and detail all the strange marking and bullying type behaviour and what he is feeling and/or struggling with then have a meeting with the Head. It is the Head's responsibility to monitor marking and staff behaviour.

I would say that for me as a teacher the pressure from above regarding SATs results has in some schools been very high, this is then transferred to the children by some of the teachers. I find personally that the SATs take a lot of joy out of learning for the children as there is a teaching to test that goes on without the time and flexibility in the curriculum for expansion into areas of interest. The children can get very demotivated as a result.

IMO they are not even useful for the children as most secondary schools reassess the children at the beginning of years 7 before setting them anyway. They are more a measure by which the school is assessed.

If you were prepared to home school this would get around that, but he is going to face exam stress and pressure throughout his school career so you need to consider whether that is what is best long term. Do you set up a pattern of him not persevering if you remove him from the school and SATs? Only you can know your child well enough to make that call. If you do decide to home educate there are some great forums and support sites. Look up HE UK yahoo group and Education Otherwise website for good pointers.

learnandsay Mon 28-Jan-13 13:58:30

You're probably right. But if another parent has doubts then she can give the paper to you and you can see how it has been marked. If the teacher's marking has been generally bad then you have a real complaint on your hands.

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 13:57:59

Thanks FunnysInLaJardin. The teacher being right was our default position too until I just couldn't ignore the huge changes in DS any longer and I had to find out what the root problem was.

I wish DS could just brush it off and see the bigger picture, but he obviously can't.

On Saturday, I actually resorted to giving him all his old school reports and showing him his whole history, levels and all. I asked him did he really think this one teacher's negative view was correct when set against all these other views of teachers who'd had him every day for a whole year?? It worked to raise his self-confidence for a while but I've seen him knocked down too frequently recently to believe that it will last.

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 13:50:23

Maybe learnandsay, but first the other parents would have had to have gone through the SATS paper with their children. As I said, when i was getting the same answers as DS, but the teaching had marked as wrong, I began to doubt myself even though its my degree subject. I actually got DH to do a sanity check on it and when he agreed with me, I went onto the internet and found the marking scheme. I'm not sure how many other parents would go that far.

FunnysInLaJardin Mon 28-Jan-13 13:41:39

Sorry for your poor DS jrr. When my oldest DS started in reception he had the most awful teacher who was also coming up to retirement. She was rude to both the children and the parents and streamed the kids at age 4/5 in their first year of formal education. She was far too strict for a group of such young children, but rather loved her reputation as a teacher who 'got results'.

It has taken DS until now in yr2 to really regain his confidence and to start to read and work happily and without the fear of failure.

DH and I complained about her more than once but of course nothing could be done as it is a small school with limited resources.

Thankfully she retired last year and DS2 won't have to endure her. No advice really, just sympathy. We are a very teacher orientated family, DH is a teacher as was my mum, sister,aunt and BIL and so my default is to think the teacher will be right, but in this case she wasn't. I actually hated her for what she did to DS!

learnandsay Mon 28-Jan-13 13:39:42

If the teacher marked the other children's sats papers as badly as she marked yours the head teacher will have to do something about it.

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 13:37:19

Its only the second SATS paper she sent home. The other one was reading comprehension and it was last October. I remember DH went through it with DS and he told me that where DS was dropping marks, it seemed to be because he wasn't explaining himself clearly enough because he had the right ideas when DH was going through ti with him. It seemed reasonable, so we advised DS to write more and forgot all about it.

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