Who should decide whether DC learns instrument?

(91 Posts)
GetStuffezd Mon 23-Sep-13 21:58:08

I teach in a Junior School. Recently we had a brass band in and, subsequently, letters were sent out to children (in lower years, who I don't teach) who were interested in learning a brass instrument. Obviously there were limited places so my colleague asked all the children who was interested in learning X,Y or Z and letters were given to those who expressed interest.

Friend has now had complaints from a couple of parents who are unhappy they weren't given the letters. Friend maintains the children weren't interested in learning, so what was the point of giving them the letter? I think I agree.
How would you feel if it were your child?

difficultpickle Tue 24-Sep-13 13:47:58

I wonder if it wasn't offered to all children as teachers find it a real pain when pupils are popping in and out of lessons to go to music lessons? At ds's previous school some of the teachers got really irritated at having to manage their pupils' attendance at music lessons (reminding them to go and then helping them catch up with what they missed in their school lesson).

At ds's current school he has three music lessons a week and it is an expected part of his teachers' jobs to ensure that pupils are helped to catch up on what they missed.

Obviously the fewer pupils who are dipping in and out of school lessons, the easier it is for the teaching staff to deliver their lessons.

Periwinkle007 Tue 24-Sep-13 13:51:20

Bisjo - I just assumed it was for children in a couple of years and limited spaces would mean that lessons were restricted to lunchtimes/before/after school

avolt Tue 24-Sep-13 13:55:02

Having a junior school age dc, the problem is that some really don't have the oomph to try anything new without a bit of encouragement. So mine, for example, may not have expressed an interest at the time, but after chatting about it, me reassuring her that she would be able to do it, would then be interested.

For that reason I think the letter should have been given to all parents. I know mine isn't the only one like this.

lunar1 Tue 24-Sep-13 13:57:30

I find it worrying that a whole staff room full if teachers can't see what is wrong with this system. You are rewarding confidant children and penalising the shy ones.

I would speak to you head about putting some training in place regarding understanding children.

If you approach other things in this way then many pupils in your school are getting a raw deal.

difficultpickle Tue 24-Sep-13 13:58:04

Maybe it has changed but when I was at (state) school my music lessons were during school time and I would miss an entire school lesson. Ds's are during lesson time although his school lessons are an hour long so he doesn't miss all of the school lesson to attend his 30 minute music lessons.

I remember one teacher at parents' evening complaining that it was hard to keep track of ds because he had two music lessons a week. Mind you she was the same one that told him he wouldn't do well at his new school and the only teacher who didn't congratulate him on his scholarship. One of his previous year's teachers also complained generally that it was hard for her to manage her class because of the amount of comings and goings there were during lesson time.

Periwinkle007 Tue 24-Sep-13 14:01:24

oh gosh I never realised they would miss classes. at my school piano or drama lessons were either in one of the PE lessons or class music lesson or at lunchtime. I never missed any main classes and we had 3 PE lessons a week I think if I remember right.

I think my daughters' school does all music lessons in lunchtime or before/after school. Mind presumably that does seriously limit how many children can have them.

NoComet Tue 24-Sep-13 14:06:45

At junior age all DCs should take letters home.

That said, I always turned blood donation letters into paper darts, because neither of my parents could donate.

PickleFish Tue 24-Sep-13 14:23:10

we had various clubs and activities that we were asked if we wanted to participate in, and letters weren't sent home. Parents didn't have to pay, though. I learned handbells for a couple of terms that way, and some craft clubs, and other similar activities that required a certain amount of commitment - so children had to volunteer their interest themselves. Other times people came into the school to hand out letters about joining a community/all-schools' choir, and other such things, and again, they would give the letters to whoever said they wanted one. I now regret

flowery Tue 24-Sep-13 14:47:42

Where has the OP gone? I have to say I am also surprised that in an entire staff room of teachers none of them thought of any of the concerns raised by parents on this thread.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 24-Sep-13 14:59:15

Peri.

I think all the schools round here have dc come out of a lesson for music lessons. The after school lessons are done at local high schools by the LA peris.

GetStuffezd Tue 24-Sep-13 18:43:45

The OP went to work!!
To reiterate - the incident was nothing to do with me or my class, but happened in a class further down the school. I was interested in seeking parents' opinions and it looks pretty unanimous...

My class are year six and if had been me I think I would have said "help yourself to these letters here if you're interested." I've done this with the extra-curricular clubs I've run in the past with no problems.
It's great to hear all your views and they are definitely taken on board, but please don't cast aspersions as to "what kind of school" would operate like this. We're a very small, happy little outstanding Junior school and the vast majority of our parents think we are doing a great job!

UniS Tue 24-Sep-13 19:17:20

I'd say it's up to the children to express an interest. If they are not interested to put their hand up their not going to be interested enough to practise.

I run a spaces limited sport club at DS's school. Letters are given to the children in each class who express an interest. Those that then return the info slip in good time are sorted into a waiting list and 6 at a time are invited to join the club for a set number of weeks.

Friends who want their kids to learn said instrument ( or in my case sport) can always make enquiry for classes not linked to school. I do get parents asking on behalf of their kids about the school group, I always tell them when the next waiting list will be opened and say their kid has to ask for eth letter when its offered.

schilke Tue 24-Sep-13 19:37:13

Periwinkle - it would be rather inconvenient for the teacher if they could only teach at break and lunch. What do they do for the rest of the day?! My dh teaches trumpet and could give you lots of information on how learning an instrument helps academically. You might miss 20mins of literacy, but the lesson is benefitting you in other ways. My dd1 misses break and 15 mins of literacy for her lesson - I'd rather she missed literacy than PE!

flowery Tue 24-Sep-13 19:40:13

"If they are not interested to put their hand up their not going to be interested enough to practise."

If you read above about the kind of children who might not put their hands up, you will realise that's patently untrue.

I think year 6 might be a different kettle of fish to be fair OP, but certainly with younger ones, there is a real risk of potentially keen and talented musicians missing out if your school relies on sticking a hand up to establish who is interested in lessons.

UniS Tue 24-Sep-13 21:01:39

It may not be perfect- but I have an over subscribed club each year by that method.

alpinemeadow Tue 24-Sep-13 21:03:48

Not all parents can get to, or afford, classes not linked to the school though peri - that's why school provision is so valuable. I'd have the same concern about the sport group - the shy 'i'm no good at sport so that's not for me' child may be too lacking in self confidence to express an interest, though they might really enjoy and benefit from the club.

Not sure i'd agree that yr 6s are immune to that either. I can't se any great problem with sending the letter to all parents, who can then discuss it with their dc.

flowery Tue 24-Sep-13 21:16:31

Not sure what being over subscribed has to do with it. Surely for something like a children's sports club it shouldn't just be about bums on seats? Whatever happened to being inclusive, fair and giving every child an opportunity.

I agree I would send letters regardless of which year the children are, my comment about year 6 being different was because the OP teaches year 6 and I think her point of view is more understandable in that context.

Periwinkle007 Tue 24-Sep-13 21:16:55

I never suggested out of school lessons. OUR school (a state school) do do them just before/after school and lunchtimes. That is what is says on the info. I have no idea how they organise that as it is for classes further up the school.

I also have music teachers in the family so I know about the 'what to do for the rest of the day' thing too but in a school of children there are PE lessons and class music lessons going on all day as well as staggered lunchtimes so the situation of music teachers sitting around twiddling their thumbs shouldn't actually need to arise.

ClayDavis Tue 24-Sep-13 21:33:10

I think that depends on the system though Periwinkle. Ours are peripatetic and have 12 primaries and 6 secondary schools to cover. The brass/woodwind etc teacher might only be in any particular school for one day a week.

alpinemeadow Tue 24-Sep-13 21:34:21

Ah - You're right peri you didn't suggest out of school lessons - it was unis who suggested parents could enquire about classes not linked to school. Sorry, not concentrating properly - tiring day!

I agree the fact that the sports club is oversubscribed doesn't mean that nobody's being left out who might enjoy it. It doesn't have to cost much or be an admin hassle to tell all parents - in fact many schools now have a mass text facility, so it could take two minutes to give all parents the opportunity to have some input!

ClayDavis Tue 24-Sep-13 21:38:07

Quite a lot would send it out as an e-mail or put it in the weekly newsletter as well.

Hulababy Tue 24-Sep-13 21:44:23

We offer violin lessons for a restricted number of pupils in Y2. Letters go home to all Y2 pupils, 90 of them. I think this is right tbh - then parents and child can discuss it at home.

FWIW if a child starts the lessons and shows no interest at all then the violin teacher does speak to the parents about this and whether the child should continue or not.

Periwinkle007 Tue 24-Sep-13 21:51:12

our school say any children who want to try and instrument have to audition, then if they do take it up they must pay for the whole year (although at DRASTICALLY reduced rates)

I think music is hugely important for children to experience but I would still not want them to miss English or Maths for it. I am not so worried about PE because I know they do other sport. I suppose every situation is different.

My kids probably won't get an instrument choice, we have a piano so therefore whatever they learn will be the piano, if we can't afford lessons then they will have me teach them. Better than nothing though.

AbbyR1973 Tue 24-Sep-13 21:53:33

DS1 has violin lessons during classtime- he goes out of the class for his lesson. I'm not particularly bothered that he might have missed something.
School music service is vital- DS's individual violin lessons cost £3.50 each and then £15 to hire the violin per term, so only about £30-40 for a whole term.
WhenI last took piano lessons 15 years ago, it cost me £16 per half hour privately. One can easily see that private music lessons are simply beyond the reach of some families.

Periwinkle007 Tue 24-Sep-13 22:00:51

yes I think our school is £40 a term but I expect private lessons are about £30 a lesson.

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