can't be 'polite' and good any longer....

(724 Posts)

ds goes to a village primary with all the subsequent over-reliance on parents wealth, education, time, etc. re: assuming sahms are the norm, money is plentiful for fanciful trips and activities, we all know how to sew up costumes at the drop of a hat etc.

that's fine. i chose to live here. however....

homework is way over the top in terms of quantity and right from day one of school. one part of homework (there is loads) is the 'learning log' which is pretended to be something children could do indepndently and consolidates learning. except in reality it is not, by a long shot.

i've put up with it and put up with and felt enslaven to doing it until today when i've had enough. this week for ds (6yo and one of the most able in his year) it says, "show me what you've learned about number bonds up to 20 and what patterns you can see". then there's a blank page.

i don't know why (because this is far from the worst that's come home) but today i've had enough and found myself writing on the page that i have no idea what the learning objective is, what outcomes they're hoping for or how the hell they see this as differentiated. i've also asked how they think a parent with numeracy or literacy problems would tackle this task and whether they would actually set this as a task in class to 6yos and expect a meaningful outcome.

there is no context, no structure, no literacy support, no prompts nothing. same as ever. sometimes the tasks don't even relate to anything they've been learning.

am i totally unreasonable or would you after a year or so be fed up too? i am (if it's not obvious) an ex teacher and i know what education is supposed to be about and this is not it. homework should be meaningful. how could a 6yo read that question and face a blank page and do something a teacher could look at and assess to see what they've learnt? they couldn't.

on top of this learning log (given on a friday and expected in by tuesday) daily reading and signing of reading book is expected plus other bits and bobs. he's 6! he's been getting this since 5 at a point where some kids couldn't even write let alone face a blank page and an open ended task and produce something yet they'd get in trouble if they didn't. this is just a test of parents surely? and an unfair one given it assumes knowledge and literacy that some parents won't have?

sorry for long random rant but help! i'm not playing this game anymore and i'm ready to speak up. it's a joke.

by not being able to articulate criticisms i meant gut feeling this is wrong but not having the buzzwords or the knowledge of pedagogy or agendas or inspection frameworks to articulate how those gut knowings interact with expert 'knowings'. not a slight on 'thick' people as someone has tried to interpret it but a standard comment on how all professions/trades/institutions etc have their own terminology which silences people who aren't fluent in it. you could be a genius with a fantastically spot on assessement of what is wrong with your local school but still lack the language and awareness of policy, strategies etc to articulate that in a way that will be heard by educationalists.

re: power games with language, 'buzzwords' and inside knowledge.

brambleandapple Mon 07-Oct-13 17:48:45

Gaining inside knowledge might be terribly difficult also. You might know the law, policy, procedure and language...but everyone has private agendas within this it seems. Political views, funding pressures, ideologies and beliefs which affect each and every individual's preconceptions, within the system, which you may not be party to or have knowledge of. So easy to unwittingly 'put your foot in it' before you even start to properly engage....

brambleandapple Mon 07-Oct-13 17:54:56

And for Game of Thrones fans, "You know nothing Jon Snow."

yes. amazing how much you can find out by knowing so and so, who knows so and so, whose able to give so and so a ring and in 20mins you find out all manner of stuff that you could never have found out on your own.

FavoriteThings Mon 07-Oct-13 18:16:13

School Governors were normally elected for 3 or 4 years, cant remember now. But all were told that it takes 1 year to get into it, not least because of all the jargon and buzzwords.And all agreed at the end of their first year, that this was indeed the case.

FavoriteThings Mon 07-Oct-13 18:20:37

You might not take quite as long swallowed wink

favorite - it's been said by several people over the last couple of years that i should become a governor but i honestly can't stand the thought of being the person actually focused on educational standards and outcomes.

i worry that you'd be expected on whatever level's version to be a cake baker and costume sewer (the alternative for the level) and seen as a big old pita if you actually asked the right questions iyswim.

and yes i'm sure that confirms what a terrible, arrogant know it all i am for some.

without knowing the 'culture' of this place it's easy to judge i guess.

fair play to you for taking it on. my boss is a governor for a school close to where he lives and really was that one person saying, err excuse me but how does this fit with policy x and what are you doing about target y and can you explain how z is measurable please?

he says they're now really grateful for him and the other governors were glad of him asking the q's and getting to learn from the answers iyswim. he's clearly made a big impact and is well received and fair play to him.

honestly as a single mum who works, tries to run a house and just about manages to function marginally above pig sty level and is knackered every evening i can't see it somehow. plus i'd need to find childcare and when i do have childcare i must admit i'd rather chill out in peace or actually go do something than go to another. shellfish.

friday16 Mon 07-Oct-13 18:47:54

i worry that you'd be expected on whatever level's version to be a cake baker and costume sewer (the alternative for the level) and seen as a big old pita if you actually asked the right questions iyswim.

It's the governors, not the PTA.

There were governing bodies which end up as an extension of the PTA, engaged mostly in cheerleading the head. But my experience of primary governance was some years ago, and I'm now informed that governing bodies like that are much, much rarer than they were.

I don't think it's reasonable to complain that no-one is holding the head to account for standards, and then decline the opportunity to become someone holding the head to account for standards. A governing body that froze out someone asking questions, especially in a school which is "requires improvement" and slipping, would be signing its own death warrant.

i hear you but can't help thinking that as much as i'd be happy to be a lone parent, female, governor in 2013 being it in 1952 would be a nightmare.

FavoriteThings Mon 07-Oct-13 18:57:24

Being a school Governor is a team effort. Or it should be anyway. fwiw, I dont like cake baking or sewing much either, but although you may be more expected to attend those events, you dont have to attend all of them.

It seems to me that you are already invested in the policies or whatever. I can only talk from my experiences a few years ago, but so long as you dont volunteer for everything going at the first few meetings, the burden shouldnt be too big. NOt that big at all. You may have to do some reading up in your own time too, but you would probably be very interested in what you were reading.
They may hold some meetings straight after school day finishing or 6pm, rather than just evenings only. And you may be able to leave your child in one class, maybe with another governor's pupil, while the meeting is held in the next room. The meetings may keep to the point as teachers want to get home too. These are guesses from me. Each school is different. I can only go from my own village school experience. Asking other Governors, especially the parent Governor may be your best bet.

FavoriteThings Mon 07-Oct-13 19:01:56

Someone once asked at a meeting, or it is sometimes asked "are you a Governor or a parent". The answer is and was "you are a Governor". Which did sometimes feel a bit like having your wings clipped. If you then had a complaint about your own child, you then became part of the solution as well as having the problem.

spanieleyes Mon 07-Oct-13 19:07:48

Well, I'm a lone parent single female school governor in one of your "middle England" primary schools ( and a Church school at that.) No-one has dropped dead with shock and outrage so far!

brambleandapple Mon 07-Oct-13 19:18:56

Spaniel They're just humouring you and you fulfil their tokenistic agenda...grin

mrz Mon 07-Oct-13 19:27:37

If you have a complaint against your own child you step down as their is a conflict of interest and you cannot be involved.

FavoriteThings Mon 07-Oct-13 19:39:21

I was meaning more of a , lets just say, my child x has trouble hearing the teacher sort of complaint, not a my child is being bullied and you are doing nothing and I am going to write to the chair of Governors type of complaint.

For the first, you wouldnt need to step down, but for the second you would? Happy to be corrected on that if I have still got that wrong.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

agreed. a parent governor has no chance when they've managed to blithely sweep ofsted under the carpet.

it'll take the next inspection, the forced retirement of the head and a massive shake up to sort out the culture that's been allowed to fester.

FavoriteThings Mon 07-Oct-13 20:25:03

Might you find another school for your son in that case? Because unless you can get a number of parents to agree with you en masse, about certain issues, then you appear to be running out of options.

Are other schools in your area any better do you think?

Don't become a parent governor and don't move your DS to another school - just have a whinge on here! (not sarcastic just advice !)

i have an interview for a job in a town far, far away in just over a week so there's a possibility this will become a non issue for me as we'll be moving and i've been researching the schools in the new area and have found a couple that sound really promising. if that wasn't the case i think i'd be looking at the two primary schools close to my work here one of which i know has just had a good result from ofsted and has a more mixed intake.

one of the schools in the town of the new job does homework as prep for a 'big write' - the writing is done in school on a particular day, the homework is to talk about it and research it etc with your parents in the week building up to it. i rather like the sound of that (it's in addition to the usual reading, key recall facts, numeracy practice etc - basically this schools equivalent of the learning log but both parents and teachers do the input stage of talking about, providing learning opps etc but the actual 'output' is done by the children in class).

i couldn't be a governor at this school - it's not 'i couldn't be a governor ever anywhere' btw just this school. i think if i was ever going to take on a governor role i would do it at a different school than one my child attended personally so i could go at it with a complete educationalist head on rather than parent head iyswim.

FavoriteThings Tue 08-Oct-13 07:43:14

Good luck with your job interview. And yes, there are just about always different schools that a child can attend. Baring in mind how full they are. All the schools round our way are now full, whereas a few short years ago, they were a lot emptier.

AS an aside really, I think it is a lot easier to be a Governor at your child's school. Any Governors we had who did not have children at the school, while still useful, struggled with quite a lot of the discussions, as they really didnt know the nitty gritty of what was going on , day to day. That is just my opinion anyway.

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