Year 1 feedback/communication with school

(37 Posts)
bodyandsoul Tue 21-Jan-14 12:52:56

We never seem to hear anything from our kid's school about the work they are doing in class. The communication seems really poor (they had a 'sharing assembly' last week, at three days' notice, but this just consisted in the kids reading a few sentences out of a book about their latest IPC topic work). I have no idea what DD is doing/should be doing in maths, for instance. What I'd love is a regular email telling us what they're covering and if/how we might help them at home. Do other people get this sort of thing? What kind of feedback/communication would you expect? (The school is an Ofsted '3' and does seem lacking on initiative generally.) Thank you!

Mim78 Tue 21-Jan-14 13:32:17

I am feeling the same about feedback and communication with dd's reception call - and the school is ofsted "1"!

Going to be chasing the teachers about this as I feel I am told nothing.

PastSellByDate Tue 21-Jan-14 13:40:23

Hi bodyandsoul:

I hear you! and totally agree - as a parent it's lovely to see a few examples of work, get a letter about what in general they'll be covering this half-term, etc.... termly parent/ teacher meetings - in addition to the end of year report really help to focus parents on their child's learning and where they can help at home.

Our school also has communication problems (It's a '2' or 'GOOD' according to OFSTED, but put on quite a floor show in 2012 so much so even the children are pining for the weeks before the OFSTED visit, when school was 'really cool' and 'we learned stuff').

Our solution as parents has been to be very aware of what in theory should be going on & best practice:

Campaign for Real education has summaries of what 'in an ideal world' should be taught when - now this is 'best case scenario' and may not be happening at your school - but it helps to know what in theory is achievable at a given age. Primary Curriculum info by subject here: www.cre.org.uk/primary_contents.html

The new 2014 Curriculum (to be rolled out from Sept 2014) includes detailed description of content by year by subject area. Link here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-curriculum - just scroll down and you can see the programmes of study by subject area - which are set out by school year.

The OFSTED website has a lot of information on best practice -which can be very illuminating. You can also sign up for the newsletter.

Our solution has been to be aware of what should be learned when, what opportunities are out there and to use the internet (there's so many wonderful resources out there - start with Woodlands Junior School homework help: www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/ - Highly recommend Maths Zone! But most importantly, to realise that we don't have to totally rely on the school - we can do our own thing in addition - and realising that has been very liberating and has meant we're much more relaxed if the school fail to send homework/ books home for weeks on end. We know learning is going on steadily regardless.

HTH

LittleMissGreen Tue 21-Jan-14 14:37:08

We get a termly sheet detailing what they will be covering in every area of the curriculum.
Homework and reading diary is marked and returned with targets to work on in the next piece of work/reading.

MrsKCastle Tue 21-Jan-14 22:59:04

We get to hear very little. They have a note up outside the classroom, which is supposed to be changed weekly and says things like: 'This week- poems, churches and toys in the past'. It's always so general that it's pretty meaningless.

I do find it frustrating. DD1 can often tell me which sounds she has been doing in phonics, so I can reinforce those, but never seems to recall her maths lessons.

juniper9 Wed 22-Jan-14 00:17:20

It is incredibly time consuming for the teachers to organise. If management valued it then they'd release the teachers to do it, but it all comes from above.

There are a million and 1 tasks to do each week, and parental newsletters are of low priority to most teachers. Formative marking, planning, resources, assessments, IEPs etc take up all of the time.

MidniteScribbler Wed 22-Jan-14 01:08:12

As juniper9 said, doing a newsletter for parents is just not something that we have enough hours in the day for. When it comes down to sitting at my desk and midnight and deciding whether to work on lesson planning, write IEPs, do marking or write a newsletter, well the newsletter is lowest on the priority list.

What I do is have a classroom blog online that parents get the password for at the start of the year. The students write blog entries about what they are doing, and we upload video and photos, as well as work samples such as powerpoint presentations, etc. It ties in nicely with the ICT curriculum as well, and parents can log in whenever it suits them to check it out.

nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 22-Jan-14 09:25:34

we don't get anything, there is a page on the website but it isn't normally very up to date. They do tell us a few things that will be covered in that half term and at the start of the year they gave us info about the topics for each subject area.

PastSellByDate Wed 22-Jan-14 11:24:33

Juniper 9

Genuinely it doesn't take any effort at all for a teacher to send home a range of worksheets reflecting what the children have been doing in class each week. I realise I'm older than most dinosaur's but once upon a time this was possible. Sending home examples of work (worksheets, spelling tests, etc...) happened all the time 'back in the day' and does tell parents what is going on in class & hey! doesn't involve a lot of extra work.

Many schools now have websites & some form of Virtual Learning Environment [VLE] (Moodle, WebCT, etc...) - it doesn't take a lot to post up a copy of the summary of the curriculum planned for the half-term. In theory this should be agreed (& filed with SMT) in advance of the half-term/ term starting - and is most likely created on a computer these days - so it isn't that hard to post it on the website/ VLE - 1-2 minutes tops. Parents can open up the class webpage/ VLE page and read what is going on.

Homeworks (especially if teacher generated on computer) can also be easily posted. Thus that child that always forgets to bring homework or spelling lists home can actually get it done, their parents/ carers can simply download it again.

So Juniper although I respect that there are tons of things to do and that documenting progress/ assessment is a huge administrative load for 30+ pupils per teacher - a bit of planning here and there, and a bit of consideration that parents just want a steady stream of info isn't truly that difficult.

But I agree it takes commitment to communicate as a school policy & I rather fear it also takes organisation.

PatriciaHolm Wed 22-Jan-14 11:35:00

We get an email every week on a Monday with what each year are doing that week, including what topics they are covering in maths, english and science as well as termly topics. It also pre warns of things coming up such as mufti days or things school might need such as cardboard boxes etc. it's invaluable.

columngollum Wed 22-Jan-14 11:36:13

The only thing we get told is what they've got for homework.

noramum Wed 22-Jan-14 12:03:59

While I love to have weekly emails but I prefer the teacher spending her time teaching and I doubt there would be more time available.

We get letter at the beginning of each half-term, giving a breakdown of the various subjects they are doing. It is not very detailed but it seems ok.

We get weekly homework and it is normally something about what they did in class during that week.

But DD is now in Y2 and we get more information out of her, she shares what they did in class so we start getting a better picture.

Things for the whole school are covered by a weekly newsletter from the head and the class head sends additional emails for trips or special projects.

ohdofeckorf Wed 22-Jan-14 13:22:16

Same here with regards to communication. Yet all of my Dc's CT's always seem to have the time to inform us of the negative aspects at the end of every single school day........hmm

NewNameforNewTerm Wed 22-Jan-14 14:28:07

"Genuinely it doesn't take any effort at all for a teacher to send home a range of worksheets reflecting what the children have been doing in class each week."
Little confused here; are you asking for some of the completed worksheets we have "done" in lessons or separate fresh worksheets? Both do take additional teacher time for just the few parents who bother looking at it.

I don't about your school, but the schools I have close contact with don't do worksheets. Finding them to reflect what I've done in class would take me time. Sending books would be a nightmare when they are lost, damaged or forgotten, as I need them for almost every lesson and they are the evidence trail in making my level judgments that are regularly scrutinised by SLT, advisors and inspectors. (but equally the same could be said of worksheets)

NewNameforNewTerm Wed 22-Jan-14 14:33:01

And back in the day we didn't have to justify and show progress for every minute we have the children during the school day. Even twenty minutes sorting a handful of worksheets from the week's work to send home could not be justified by us.

I do value communication with parents and send termly newsletters explaining our topic, I have fortnightly open-house after school, nine parents evenings a year, termly curriculum evenings ... but I do find your tone, PSBD rather insulting that teachers are lazy and incapable of organisation because we don't do what you expect.

MilkRunningOutAgain Wed 22-Jan-14 14:38:06

We get a half termly plan of the work they will be doing for each subject, this is emailed to me and is quite informative, one open evening a term when you can go into the classroom and look at their work, and of course parents evenings, when again we can look at their books before speaking to the teacher, we get these twice a year.
And they each have a homework folder, which gets thicker throughout the year as they do their homework, and this is marked weekly.

I think the school does this well, and I don't think it's too difficult for the teachers to do. I read the plans with each dc and attempt to get them excited about what the half term will bring. This works for dd, but not for DS!

mydadsdaughter Wed 22-Jan-14 14:39:01

We get a letter at beginning of term detailing all the topics, phonics, maths, science etc they are covering during that term, we also have an up to date website and a fantastic Twitter account so you can follow your child's class and what they are up to, most classes update at least two or three times a week, I must say our school is very good at communicating with parents now.

juniper9 Wed 22-Jan-14 20:17:00

I think ecommunication is the way forwards, but my school is not very active.

PSBD, perhaps, like Gove, you should spend a term teaching and then get back to me about time management. As has been said before (and yes, I get it, teachers moan) it's not unusual for us to do 60 hour weeks. I'm sorry if it's not to your pleasing (and you obviously have your own axe to grind with your DC's school) but thinks must be prioritised. When I'm at work, I do 60 hours of necessary work. The rest has to fit in too, but god knows where.

MidniteScribbler Wed 22-Jan-14 20:18:15

Genuinely it doesn't take any effort at all for a teacher to send home a range of worksheets reflecting what the children have been doing in class each week.

Education has moved on, worksheets don't have much place in a modern classroom anymore. Plus, teachers now have to keep evidence of the student progress for end of semester reports and for evaluations (and for our own performance reviews). I have a folder for each student in my class which will get sent home at end of year, but not before. Parents are however, welcome to come in to the classroom before or after school on any day and view it for themselves.

PastSellByDate Thu 23-Jan-14 11:43:44

Juniper

I get the point that you're overworked - but would respectfully remind you many parents also are overworked and many working Mums (including me) at our school are going without breaks/ lunch to rush to collect our kids at 3 and then teaching them in the afternoon before dinner the things we feel are important (like division, reading children's classics, etc...) - so I think it would be helpful if you didn't presume that parents have nothing to do other than complain.

Second the OP said it would be nice to know more about what is going on and how she could help:

WHAT IS GOING ON:

Curriculum plan for half term. This in theory should be filed with SMT and exist prior to commencing half-term. It most likely isn't on the back of a napkin and should be digitally created. Therefore in theory (even if you have to scan the napkin) it should take <1 minute to scan in the curriculum plan for the half-term and post it on the school website/ class webpage/ VLE so that parents roughly know what the class is doing that half-term.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO TO HELP AT HOME:

again this isn't hugely time consuming. Let's take an example of times tables. Class X is working on x7 table. Can parents encourage their children to play X game on X website or play snap (ordinary deck of cards but Ace =1, 2-9 as numbered, Jack = 10, Queen = 11 and King = 12) and practice x7 table during the week. Remind your DCs that they actually know most of this from other times tables they've learned. Thank you. Total time to type - ca. 1-2 minutes/ Copy & paste to fill 1 page of A4 <1 minute, 1-2 minutes to photocopy to generate 30 notes & then 1 minute to use guillotine to slice - of course you could also just text/ e-mail parents of that year or post a message on the class VLE, which parents can check (even less time then).

So I do take the point Juniper that if your school is using text books (and let's presume that you're allowing children to write in them - so new text books each year for each child) that sending work home may be difficult. So in theory - could you let the child take the text book home now and then so parents could see what they're doing?

Our school doesn't use text books (officially) but photocopies worksheets. DD1 (now Y6) has been reporting since Y4 that most of the work they do in class is thrown away. So in essence I was just asking for the teachers to allow children to take work home (so we can see what's going on) instead of throwing it out - which doesn't strike me as particularly onerous to do and doesn't involve a huge time commitment on teacher's parts.

I get that you work hard Juniper.

But so do parents.

I could rant and give example - but I think you assume too much when you presume that only teachers work a 60 hour week whilst being paid for 37.5 - and many of us don't get anything like the same amount of time off for school holidays and struggle to arrange/ pay for childcare during those periods.

PastSellByDate Thu 23-Jan-14 12:09:57

NewName:

apologies for tone - but

1) parents are NEVER told what exactly you are doing. We could be an ally here - if you can't sent work home because the 'rules' now preclude you sending work home don't you think getting millions of parents angry that they are seeing NOTHING of their children's work and this is unnecessary would help reduce the bureaucracy?

2) TEXTBOOKS - it may just be our LEA - but our schools don't use textbooks - but photocopy from them. So children are filling in worksheets (say LETTs comprehension workbooks) in class over a number of days. Now I can see if it is a big project and the one worksheet then there is a dilemma - does the teacher retain this to document progress or does the child get to take this home to show a parent a great piece of writing.

It is a sorry state of affairs that the needs of the bureaucracy outweigh the needs of the child - because what child doesn't like proudly showing off work to their parents and what parent doesn't like being proud of their kid.

3) FEEDBACK/ EXPLANATION - again I commend you for 9 meetings a year and fortnightly open evenings and termly curriculum meetings - but again, that would only be happening in private schools in this LEA. Nothing like that exists in the state sector around here.

This is where as a parent I find the English primary system exasperating. I get that teachers want to be treated as professionals - but wouldn't the professional thing be for EVERY STATE SCHOOL (presuming you're at a state school) to be doing what you're doing - 9 parent/ teacher meetings a year, fortnightly open evenings, termly curriculum meetings. (or at least have an agreed minimum - which maybe you do - and that might be what our school is doing?)

My attitude comes from the fact that it's a postcode lottery. And indeed a financial one. If you can afford it, yes, you can buy yourself this kind of oversight & communication - but if you can't and you live in the wrong area of town - sorry, it's one parent/ teacher evening a year, no newsletters from the school for months (please parents understand that we're terribly busy) and no examples of work (even art) sent home.

Parents have always wanted to understand how their children are doing. Teachers are saying they're overworked. It seems to me that Teaching Unions should be arguing for less documentation of progress being retained in return for more directly sending examples of work home to parents, thereby communicating to parents more effectively what their children are doing in school. Given there is now such a thing as scanning - it really isn't impossible to scan in a piece of work if it is critical it is retained as an example of learning progress).

It is worrying that the people most interested in knowing what their children are doing/ how their children are doing receive the lowest priority from the teaching profession. Yet even our school spouts on endless about how children who are supported in learning at home do better.

One thing I will say is I think these novella style end of year reports really don't have to be so long-winded (clearly hugely time consuming for teachers as well).

mrz Thu 23-Jan-14 17:19:06

Extract from HMCI’s message to Inspectors 22 January 2014 regarding teaching.

“There is so much more that could be said about teaching without infringing the professional judgement of teachers to decide the most appropriate style of teaching to get the best out of their students. For example:

Are low expectations resulting in worksheets being used

jussi Thu 23-Jan-14 17:34:40

What parents need to realise is that teachers are trying to please Ofsted,not parents. Those who said newsletters are way down the list of priorities are clearly not prioritising correctly.Communication between parents and teachers is key to any success from the child. End of.

mrz Thu 23-Jan-14 18:26:54

Sorry jussi but that's utter rubbish!

NormHonal Thu 23-Jan-14 18:34:38

We get a weekly email with a few bits of information on it (year one). DC1 can now tell me what she's done, and I make a point to ask her.

Fortunately we also have a few parents who go and help in class, I do too when I can, and talking amongst ourselves we find out a lot about what they are doing.

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