DS not coping with teacher

(44 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?

learnandsay Mon 28-Jan-13 12:20:44


jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 12:24:17

Sorry, a bit more... the loss of self-confidence is spreading out into other areas of his life. He is falling out with his friends, declaring himself useless at the the things he loves e.g. football and generally he just seems an unhappy child. Its a total personality transformation.

I talk to him and we get the child that we know back for a day or two, but then he sees her again and it all starts again.

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 12:25:42

complain to whom? The teacher won't lower herself to say "good morning " to the parents when they bump into her in the street or in the school and the head can't do anything.

Can you meet with your head teacher? Given it's only January, he's still got a fair bit of the school year left with her and if it's only going to get worse, it would be worth steppinng in now.

Just wondering, do you think it's definitely to do with her, could there be anything else bothering him?

Complain / speak to the governers if needed. the school office should tell you who they are, if there are several parents saying then same thing then they really ought to do something.

throckenholt Mon 28-Jan-13 12:33:06

I would try and talk to the head (maybe with some other similarly minded parents) - she can't just abdicate repsonsibility.

If he is due to go to senior school in September, and you don't think complaining is going to make a difference - you could consider home ed for the time between now and Sept (if work commitments allow it).

Ideally you would keep it low key - let him recover his self confidence - work a bit on reading, writing and maths, but don't push it - let him follow things that interest him (as long as it is not playing computer games all day grin).

The other option would be to change schools - but not ideal for a couple of terms.

vertex Mon 28-Jan-13 12:35:09

First thing to do is contact the LEA and ask to speak to someone in pupil support and explain the situation.

Secondly, and please do not take this the wrong way. Make an appointment with GP and ask to be referred to a Child Physcologist, there is no stigma to this; a child physcologist has the means to talk to your DS and find out what is at the root of the problem. Once this is addressed can then set about exercises to assist in regaining confidence and 'handling' negative comments from his teacher

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 12:35:52

I think it is her because I've eliminated just about everything else. The only other thing could be hormones, but its too early for that, isn't it?

Ofsted said in their report that the teaching in year 6 was outstanding. I don't get it. Can it be that her methods work on most children?

She puts red Xs all over his work and writes "you must do better" at the bottom. This is according to DS. I've sent a note into school asking to see these books to be sure that he's not exaggerating (although obviously i didn't give that as the reason on the note).

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 12:43:42

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.

I was wondering though if it will continue until July or just until the SATS are done? The school did really badly on SATS last year whereas it usually does very well. Maybe the teacher is determined to end her career on a high?

If I withdraw DS, then the school will lose 3% of the level 5s, although at the rate things are going, i don't think he'll have enough confidence to write enough to get level 4s!

Panzee Mon 28-Jan-13 12:47:24

I'm not saying its not the teacher but it isn't too early for hormones. Good luck whatever you decide to do.

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 12:50:12

Will the head be informed if I contact the lEA? If yes, then I need to contact her first. I am reluctant to bring a complaint to the school because I do not want to provoke theminto closing ranks. I have another child with a few years still to go in the school, so I am hoping to mainain a good relationship.

With any luck this woman will be retired before my other child gets to year 6.

learnandsay Mon 28-Jan-13 12:51:17

sats scores are not your problem. Let the school worry about those. You worry about your son. If you can home educate him then why not?

BeckAndCall Mon 28-Jan-13 12:54:05

You don't say you've actually talked to the teacher to see what she thinks? Make an appointment to talk to her and look at his work with her. She may have a different take on it.

Have you ruled out physical things like hearing and poor eye sight which might mean he's not picking up what she's saying or explaining?

fuckadoodlepoopoo Mon 28-Jan-13 12:54:16

Can he switch to another class?

I can't imagine that taking him out of school now will help prepare him for secondary. It seems to me that being at home until September and then starting a whole new school with much bigger kids than him would just be terrifying for him.
If he could go back to primary in September that might be ok, but suddenly going onto secondary after being at home for 8 months would be awful!

learnandsay Mon 28-Jan-13 12:54:35

Hopefully the head and other teachers are more professional than that. You can't let your child suffer at school due to a set of unfounded fears that unprofessional teachers will take out their grudges against other members of your family. There are recognised methods of complaining in schools. They're there to be used by unhappy parents. That's what they are for.

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 13:09:49

No, I haven't spoken to her yet. From my previous experience of her and everything I have heard from other parents, I don't think it will resolve things. She's not a bad person but she makes it clear that she really does not like parents and she fails to hide her impatience!
I will talk to her if I need to progress this (and I think I will) but I doubt that it will resolve things.

Its all just really weird. Two weeks ago she sent home a SATS paper that DS had done. She'd written "FAIL" on the front in big letters. DS was upset (because he's never failed anything before). So, I sat down with him and started to go through it so that I could help him understand where he was going wrong. I was very surprised to find that she'd completely mis-marked it and he'd scored twice as much as she'd written. So, he'd really passed.

It was my degree subject but she made me doubt myself, so i even checked his answers against the marking scheme.

Then I wrote a letter to her asking her to re-mark certain questions. And saying I was asking because DS was distressed by the "fail" and that she'd said he'd be removed from G&T as a result. She responded by telling DS that the mark didn't matter anyway and claiming that it was his mistake because she'd never said anything about a fail or the consequences for G&T.

So, now I've sent two notes into school in the space of a month (nothing ever before) and I want to think very carefully and be sure of my ground before I do anything more.

vertex Mon 28-Jan-13 13:09:55

If you contact LEA support team they will talk you through options but ultimately they will have to contact the school, however, they will do this in a positive manner and the head should respond accordingly. The school are not going to introduce bias against your other child they would dare not risk the potential fallout from doing so.

learnandsay Mon 28-Jan-13 13:12:46

If you've still got the sats paper then photocopy it and use it in your complaint.

GooseyLoosey Mon 28-Jan-13 13:15:32

If it is just one subject, would a tutor help? We did this for dd and explained that the reason for it was to convince her that she could do it, not because we thought she couldn't. It only lasted for about 6 months, but did seem to help.

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 13:16:14

Unfortunately, its a one form entry school, so there isn't any other year 6 class to move to.

In my dream world, the head will get so fed up of all the complaints that she'll assign the teacher to something else - a special project or anything with limited exposure to children - and teach year 6 part-time herself!

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 13:17:27

I sent the SATS paper back in with the letter, but I took photocopies first. Long established habit from my previous career.

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 13:19:21

GooseyLoosey - today its just one subject but if you'd heard DS on Saturday, it was every single subject in school and every activity out of it. He's really hard on himself and it makes me want to cry when I see him beating himself up like that.

jrrtolkien Mon 28-Jan-13 13:23:36

It isn't even really that one subject (Reading) - he's been working at level 5 on it for a year now and he's never struggled in it before. Its just that this is the latest thing that this teacher has been marking as 80% wrong and then not telling him what he should have done. The problem is DS now doesn't have the confidence to write the answers that he thinks should be correct.

throckenholt Mon 28-Jan-13 13:24:34

I think you really do need to talk to the head. Undermining the kids confidence is going to nothing for their sats performance ! That is not your problem - but teaching your child to hate school and think he is useless very definitely is your problem.

Be frank with the head - say you don't think the teacher is going to change her attitude if you talk to her (given your experience of the SATS test paper). Say you are very worried about the way your DS is being affected and if something doesn't change very soon you would have to consider other options. Point out you have other kids at the school and a long relationship with it - and you have been happy with it all up until this.

takemehometoauntem Mon 28-Jan-13 13:28:52

Without reading any other posts.....Year 6....hmm SATS! added pressure from select teachers, I would bet my ass that this is the teacher in your sons year who gets the most 'results' wink, when will the select few take notice that not all children respond well to the push push push strategies used when SATS are on the horizon! Infuriates me it really does! I am actually dreading the time that my son moves up to year 6, it will be year 2 all over again! But I will be learning by my own mistakes this time...NO ADDITIONAL STRESSES ABOUT SATS OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL.blush
If the teacher is the type described above I can't see complaining doing anything, but send a letter to the head teacher if you get no joy there (after all this teacher will be doing an outstanding job with many other less sensitive pupils), send a letter chair of governors if this gets you nowhere a letter to ofsted.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Mon 28-Jan-13 13:30:36

Wow! She's really fucking up isn't she! Go and see the head and take in your evidence, the sats paper etc. This isn't just about how she acts around the kids but also her ability to do the paperwork part of the job correctly!

fuckadoodlepoopoo Mon 28-Jan-13 13:31:26

I would also speak to the other parents who've had issues and any others that you are friendly with and see if they would be willing to put any complaints forward as well.

learnandsay Mon 28-Jan-13 13:33:10

What about all the other sats papers. How well were they marked?

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?!

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.

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