No communication with teachers - is this normal?

(36 Posts)
CC77 Thu 07-Mar-13 20:25:15

Hi,

My ds started reception 6 months ago and I have some concerns about the school keeping parents at arms length - I'd like to know if you think this is normal, and whether I need to adjust my expectations?

On his 3rd day of school we got a letter banning parents from entering the school building, because they didn't want the classrooms getting too crowded. From that day on, they have stationed a 'gatekeeper' teacher on the door every morning to stop any parent trying to enter the building. I've asked several times and been denied, and all I wanted to do was see my son settled in his first few weeks of school.

On the way to school last term, he fell over and cut his knee open. When we got to the school, I wasn't allowed to go in with him and when I explained the situation, the 'gatekeeper' told my son to go into his classroom as normal and tell his teacher. He wasn't able to make himself heard/understood once in the classroom and he was left untreated.

Finally, he came out of school yesterday with his face covered with cuts and grazes, but all I got by way of explanation was a standard, photocopied slip in his book bag saying he'd had an accident. Seeing him was quite a shock and I can't believe no one thought it appropriate to have a quick word and explain what had happened.

Parents evenings are twice a year and you get to see their work once a term but it's made really clear through letters (and the teachers demeanor!) that this isn't an opportunity to talk to them.

If this doesn't sound right, how should I tackle it without seeming confrontational? I am really shy and hate doing this sort of ting, but I don't feel I can let it go unmentioned as I don't have full confidence my son is being taken care of.

RiversideMum Thu 07-Mar-13 20:31:41

If this is the way the school is, then you are probably stuck with it. It's not the way we run things where I work - in fact we try our hardest to get parents into the school!

ByTheWay1 Thu 07-Mar-13 20:35:24

OP This sounds just like our school - with the added proviso that you can ring and make an appointment to talk to your child's teacher.

Our school had a BIG problem with helicopter parenting - parents going into class to settle children, parents going up to teacher and talking for bloomin ages before start of class, and parents looking through other kids work in the classroom - classes for the little ones were being severely disrupted, some kids would not settle because of some parents always being there at the start - and cried when parents were eventually persuaded to leave - things are a lot more settled now...

Sounds like your school may have experienced the same problem...

FannyBazaar Thu 07-Mar-13 20:43:15

Parents are banned from the classroom at our school 'for Health and Safety reasons', I've never been quite sure what was meant by that though.

Notes home about injuries sometimes, standard photocopied thing with photocopied signature which I get when I get home after I collect my child later from off site after school care. This is only for a bump on the head I think and the letter states 'suggested course of action - take child to doctor'. Obviously at around 7pm when I see the letter, I'm not going to march my otherwise fine DS off to the walk in centre to spend an hour there because of receiving a letter advising me to go.

I don't know how to tackle it. My DS is now 8 and can give feedback on what actually happened at school but he has some communication difficulties so the first years were very difficult as he could not tell me effectively.

sozzle8 Thu 07-Mar-13 20:46:33

Our school isn't like this and we're happy to chat with parents at the beginning and end of the day, sometimes it's really important to just give a quick message! We would arrange other times for longer conversations. It is also vital to see parents properly and talk about their children at parent's evening!

We always see or telephone parents about injuries or bumped heads and inform the parents. We would definitely make sure a child has first aid too and would expect that a parent would want to come into school to check that their child is okay. I would see the Headteacher and voice your concerns!

simpson Thu 07-Mar-13 20:56:03

My DD is in reception and at one point in the year we had to drop our DC at the gate leading to the reception entrance but this is because they have taken a bulge class and there are 90 kids (normally 60).

We were allowed to go in on their first day only to settle them.

However loads of parents complained (not me) and they have now changed it so each class has their own entrance at a separate door and you can speak to the reception teacher if need be.

This does change in yr1 though, as they have to line up in the play ground to go into their class.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Thu 07-Mar-13 21:16:12

we have a similar arrangment at my DD's school, but there are usually a few 'gatekeepers' and the few occasions we've had a problem in the morning, one of them took my DD into class and settled her. Its a biggish school with 3 classes per year so I imagine it would be chaos having parents inside the building.

You can always speak to the teacher at the end of the day and that was communicated to parents from day 1 as the best time to have a quiet word with the teacher if there were any problems. Have you tried speaking at the end of the day - you may need to wait until the class have all left.

sittinginthesun Thu 07-Mar-13 21:48:54

Our school is the opposite - Reception are dropped off by door, but teacher is there if you need a quick word. Same at pickup.

From year 1, they line up to go in, but you can always grab the teacher if necessary.

Teachers have even been known to phone us parents on the middle of the school day if they want to reassure us about something!

We are encouraged to help out in school, attend special assemblies, read with infants on certain days.

The head knows every parent, and even been known to make us tea.

N0tinmylife Thu 07-Mar-13 21:55:48

Another one with the opposite experience. In reception parents are allowed in with the children in the morning, and encouraged to chat to staff about anything concerning their children. We are often invited in for various open afternoons and other activities, and they are keen to have parent helpers in school.

I would not be happy with what you describe. I would certainly be hoping for something to change if I was in your position, or even considering a change of school.

Jenny70 Thu 07-Mar-13 22:11:48

Our parents are kept out of the dropoff/pickup process as much as possible - to be honest most parents want to chat about the oddest things and take the teacher's time when she is trying to sort children in/out of class. She is available for a few minutes at lineup, but not to discuss progress etc.

You would certainly be able to arrange a meeting with the teacher to discuss issues, if not I wouldn't be happy.

But we do get plenty of chances to volunteer in the class, reading, maths and "stay and play" which involves staying and playing a few games - this is a great chance to see the class as they normally operate.

Sommink Thu 07-Mar-13 22:38:27

Parents are allowed in in my daughters reception class, but i wish they weren't! My dd was never allowed to have me go in with her at preschool, classroom was to small tbh so she doesn't want me to now, problem is parents fill the cloakroom and she struggles to actually get into class past the parents!

However there is always a teacher at the door who you can ask any questions to, and if you have a question you are welcome to go in and ask, or have a look at what they have been doing. They also hand out accident forms for every little bump and phone as well, usually for head injuries (although i may get more of these bits of paper then most as I had a word when she came out with a black eye that the lunch time staff failed to report to the class teacher let alone fill the paperwork)

learnandsay Fri 08-Mar-13 12:31:12

Apart from the parents who volunteer parents at my daughter's school are only allowed into the Reception cloakroom and that seems always to be filled with more parents than children. The teacher is always standing at the door in the mornings and in the afternoons and either she or the TA will come out and explain bumps and scratches to the parents. My only reservation with this so far is that it can take school gate politics inside the classroom. It's been easy to ignore so far. But it does happen.

mummytime Fri 08-Mar-13 12:58:57

Personally I would take my child out of a school like this.

I like to be able to speak to teachers, have little peeks at the classroom (and their art work) at the end of the day, especially in the early years. Although it is usually better to speak to teachers at the end rather than beginning of the day.

Sittinginthesun, you could be a parent at my school!

We do our very best to encourage parents in; often not successful. Parents are very much part of school life.

I would not leave my child in a school like the one you describe, but then I am luckly enough to live in a rural area with several good, welcoming primary school within a 10-minute drive. (And one unwelcoming one, which some parents have left for that very reason.)

CC77 Fri 08-Mar-13 13:22:34

Thanks for all the feedback, it's really helpful to have a balanced range of opinions. I can see the downsides of letting parents into classrooms en masse, but I don't think I can let go of my other concerns. It really goes against my instincts as a mum to keep sending my child to this school, so I'm thinking of a transfer.

My only issue is whether I should voice my concerns now, or just transfer him. What will I achieve by telling them I'm not happy with the lack of communication? They won't change the school just for one parent, but then it seems wierd to just remove him without any dialogue at all. I think I'll have a try and talking to them once, then put the transfer application in if I don't get the reassurance I need.

Thanks again for all the advice!

Yes, do talk to them. they probably won't change, but there may be many other parents who feel as you do; if no one tells them, they have no feedback. There is also Parent View, the online site where you can tell Ofsted what you feel.

cansu Fri 08-Mar-13 19:51:01

I would take a step back and think about your transfer carefully. Most schools discourage parents coming in at start of day as it makes it hard to get on with settling children and getting on with teaching day. You really should find out the set up at new school before you decide it s just this one that is strange. I suppose I would also be more interested in whether my ds was happy at school before I made the decision to move him.

ipadquietly Fri 08-Mar-13 20:01:08

I'm not sure this is a good reason to move a child who may take up to 6 months to settle into a new school. If he is happy there, that should be your primary concern.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 08-Mar-13 20:09:39

DS1 is in Reception and his teacher is always at the door and you can chat about something or pass a message, they welcome parents in to read and help out.
Pick up is the same, and often the teacher or TA will come out to have a quick word if they have bumped heads or got especially upset about something.

Head and deputy are lovely and approachable and always around in the playgrounds at drop off and pick up and very happy to exchange a few words - they know everyone's parents and it is a big infants, there are 270 children.

I would be horrified at your situation OP. Could you go and see the head and ask about the reasoning and see whether there is any possibility of change?

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Fri 08-Mar-13 20:14:01

It wouldn't take 6 mnths to settle at a new school, what nonsense!

girliefriend Fri 08-Mar-13 20:20:28

i would hate that op, if you want to challenge it you need to go round to reception and ask to speak to the head or deputy. Just keep it simple and explain your concerns in terms of how it makes you and your son feel.

My dds school has always welcomed parents in in the morning and I feel happy knowing I can approach dds teacher if I want a quick word. I personally would hate to feel excluded like that.

LowLevelWhinging Fri 08-Mar-13 20:39:42

the thing about having parents in the classroom is fair enough I think. Our school just doesn't have the room for all the parents to come in. the cloak rooms and corridors just couldn't take it. we were welcomed in for the first few days of reception, but then, tbh, I think children benefit from knowing it's ok to be left to get on with their day at school.

our school does have 'gatekeepers' at line up in the morning and at home time, but they are usually the class teachers and we're encouraged to chat if we have anything we need to discuss.

We are also invited into school for assemblies and other events regularly.

However, I would be concerned about the lack of communication about injuries. A note home is normal, but equally enough care and concern to be available for an explanation would demonstrate a level of care and interest. Parents and children should be made to feel welcome and as a partnership in education really.

ipadquietly Fri 08-Mar-13 20:48:06

yellow You obviously have no experience of children who change schools. I work in a school with high transiency, and, with the odd exception, children take about 6 months to settle properly. Their first priority is to make friends, which is tough mid-year. At the same time, they are learning new routines and have new teachers with different expectations. Their life is changed COMPLETELY.

It is a huge thing to ask a child to make such a massive change just because a parent feels that the teachers don't communicate properly. The child's well-being and happiness should be considered carefully.

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Fri 08-Mar-13 20:52:40

I do have experience, I just have a different opinion.

ipadquietly Fri 08-Mar-13 20:56:15

I really don't see how anyone could have a different opinion if they have worked closely with transient children.

Heifer Fri 08-Mar-13 21:28:27

I thinks it's very common for parents to be kept out of the building BUT at our school EVERY class teacher comes out to meet the children (in lines when the bell goes in the morning or brings the children out to the play ground after school and waits around for each child to be collected therefore we have ample opportunity to have a quick chat if needed.

mummytime Fri 08-Mar-13 21:52:15

Ipadquietly - do you mean to sound so arrogant?

Have you experience of all children who transfer schools? All schools? All circumstances? All backgrounds? All ages? All reasons for transfer?

ipadquietly Fri 08-Mar-13 22:15:38

We have about 60% transiency, so yes, I do have experience of children who often transfer from school to school.

The point I am making is that is is very simplistic for an adult to say that they want to move their child (who may be happy at their school) on the basis of 'lack of communication from teachers'.

In doing this, the child's life (which may have been very happy) changes totally. S/he has to make new friends, get used to new teachers and routines, settle into the curriculum (which may be totally different, especially in KS1 with different phonics schemes), the school may be bigger/smaller, expectations may be different - a whole host of things.

The 'finding new friends' is, quite rightly, the top priority for a child, and totally depends on the sociability of the child, the time of year AND the dynamics of the new class. Working to the new teacher's expectations are secondary, and the child can take several months to settle to academic work.

I am not being arrogant - I am actually being empathetic about children who change schools, and it worries me that so many parents on MN seem to bee so willing to put their children through a difficult experience for such trivial reasons.

exoticfruits Fri 08-Mar-13 22:21:27

Obviously you want to encourage the DCs to be more independent, but as a teacher I would like to get to know the parents and have the odd chat- the end of the day being the best time.

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Fri 08-Mar-13 22:42:50

iPad - where you see high levels of transiency, the children are not all moving due to parental preference over schools are they? Presumably they are moving for work, geographical relocation, family change, other issues such as housing etc. So not really the same issues.

ipadquietly Fri 08-Mar-13 22:59:05

We have movement due to work/ infant-junior transition/ parental preference. You are right - most are due to work.

However, I find that those children moving due to parental preference (ie. the children were happy at their old schools and saw no reason to leave) are those that find it most difficult to settle.

As an example, I have a child who was moved because 'she wasn't challenged' at her old school. This child thought she could coast at our school and didn't rise to any challenges we set (missing her old friends, not understanding our targets, etc (she's 7!)). It is only within the last 2 weeks that she is showing what she is capable of - 6 months after joining the class.

BonfireOfKleenex Fri 08-Mar-13 23:21:13

I always think it's a real shame when schools shut parents out. Yes it might be 'tidier' for the school but it doesn't benefit school / child / parent / community relationships at all, and relationships and community are a large part of what growing up and education is all about.

I think schools should be penalised by Ofsted if they have this kind of mentality.

ipadquietly Sat 09-Mar-13 00:08:28

They are. Ofsted look at parents' views on 'Parent view' (link on Ofsted website) and will take any communication from parents into account.

YellowAndGreenAndRedAndBlue Sat 09-Mar-13 07:42:33

Ok, well that explains the reason we disagreed originally, because I see the children with more complex issues taking longest to settle.

bamboostalks Sat 09-Mar-13 08:05:41

The reason that many schools do not allow parental access is simply to do with child protection. Not every teacher knows every parent. They cannot spend their time challenging parents to make sure they are legitimate. In my own school there have been several instances of totally random strangers wanting to access the premises for fairly suspect reasons, theft being the main one. So yes we have a strict parental access policy for the safety of the children.

BonfireOfKleenex Sat 09-Mar-13 11:22:12

Obviously it depends on the layout, but allowing parents into the playground wouldn't give them free access to the school buildings in most cases.

I do think it's good practice for the teachers and TAs to be available in the playground at drop off and pick up time - for the sake of good communication.

It also gives teachers an opportunity to see what is going on when kids are dropped off / picked up which I imagine would help to give a more rounded picture of the child and their behaviour from a professional point of view.

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