Fed up with school telling me off - is anyone else?

(94 Posts)
BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:11:57

I know I am educationalist and supposed to be very clued up on all this stuff, but I needed to hang out at the village pump a bit with other people who have kids in secondary school, as I am feeling very fed up and ranty.

My kids are at a good school but I think they have forgotten DH and I are not in fact pupils. Barely a day seems to go by without some snippy message via email or phone to us at work telling us things like:

1. How to wipe out one of our children's schoolbags after some sort of leak, in step by step instructions as if we were about aged 6. FFS! I HAVE FOUR KIDS AND A FUCKING HOUSEKEEPING BLOG THAT GETS THOUSANDS OF HITS A MONTH! I DON'T NEED TEACHING HOW TO WIPE THINGS.

2. The minor homework infractions that have occurred despite us sitting there for hours each week with the kids, trying to fathom what on earth the homework is really supposed to be, etc. PERHAPS IF THE HOMEWORK WASN'T SO BORING THE KIDS MIGHT ACTUALLY PAY MORE ATTENTION? DID YOU THINK OF THAT? Who wants to spend hours every week pencil drawing a rumpled shirt over and over again, anyway? God forbid. I am losing the will to live, I really am.

3. The constant detentions intruding into family life relating to minor homework infractions. SEE ABOVE! DO YOU LOT REALISE THAT IF YOU KEEP THE KIDS BEHIND, THEY WILL GET HOME HOURS LATE BECAUSE OF THE WIERD TRAIN TIMETABLE, AND NOT BE ABLE TO DO THE NEXT LOT OF HOMEWORK PROPERLY, AND END UP GETTING MORE DETENTIONS???? AND WE HAVE MORE KIDS WHO END UP BEING AFFECTED AS WELL!!!!

4. Calls from the school medical centre demanding we drop everything at work, and drive the 60-mile round trip to collect kids with supremely minor ailments 'because they have to be released to an adult and can't make their own way home'. Today's special was an anecdotal report of sickness from a child who proceeded to put away pizza and trifle for lunch, have hot chocolate and cake after school, and then wolf down pasta with meatballs for dinner. SICK MY ARSE! When I pointed out this was happening for a range of ailments every 2-3 weeks and dared to say I wouldn't be able to do this from January thanks to my new job, unless the kids were in A and E or vomiting all over the health centre floor in a dramatic fashion, the implication was that I was somehow out of step and deviant. FFS!

<and breathe>

At the moment I feel like taking them out of school, dumping them in a public library while I am at work and telling them to educate themselves, because it couldn't be more stressful than these endless snippy communications and criticisms.

I am wondering what would happen if I simply don't respond to their emails and calls?? <brave>

ohfunnyface Mon 26-Nov-12 20:16:00

Why are your kids going to the medical room so often??

I sympathise- the food thing spill instructions sounds stupid. However- surely not personally directed at you?

Detentions over minor infractions sounds over the top- is this a weekly issue? Is it in every subject or just one teacher?

goralka Mon 26-Nov-12 20:22:16

sounds more than a bit annoying.....it is often hard to stay positive about the school
I have just been invited to a meeting at the school with the head of year who looks like cruella de ville (dd's thought not mine) to discuss her low attendance...
actually even if she is 5 mins late they mark absent for that session, and there was rampant bullying on the school bus (which took them weeks to sort out), so I was having to drive her in, get caught in traffic, and be a bit late not absent.
And they know that. last meeting with this vile woman, she sat copying an email from me into her notebook.....

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:23:41

My kids have clearly worked out that it is in their ruddy interests to go to the medical centre with minor ailments as the medical centre gets a satisfying flap on and they get chauffeur service home. (That having been said, DS2 does seem to have a minor temperature now so there is a slight justification on this one occasion).

No, the food spill was a note personally addressed to me in DS1's planner! I kid you not!

The detention thing seems to happen weekly, suggesting it has shortcomings as a discipline strategy.

Themumsnot Mon 26-Nov-12 20:24:57

I do sympathise. But I think that some of the exasperation you are directing at the school might be usefully directed at your DC. You imply that you have multiple DC at this school. Are the issues spread evenly across the DC or is there one in particular who is the focus of a lot of these issues? Because with the sickness thing, I would be bollocking making strenuous enquiries of the child regarding just why they felt the need to visit the medical centre in the first place.
The homework? They are in secondary school. They need to do it themselves. If you are spending hours trying to help them fathom it out you are facilitating them in not taking responsibility. Let them screw up, let them get bollocked, stop protecting them from (and getting irritated by) the consequences of their own failure to ensure they know what they are supposed to be doing.
I know it must be frustrating, but I think it is your children who need to shape up, not the school.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:25:11

Goralka, the head of the DS's last school was like that. It is tempting to ignore their silly power games, but you have to engage, even if you know they are getting off on the power of it all.

BeatTheClock Mon 26-Nov-12 20:27:08

My dd is yr 9 and I don't hear much of a peep from the school really which is a blessed relief after the junior school who wanted our input every two minutes.

I think what stands out in your post though is some friction with the school over homework. It needs doing if you want to avoid detentions. It might be boring or appear irrelevant - if so go in and discuss with them. But they may have a bigger picture as to why something is being done as homework. In other words you think it's a minor issue, they clearly don't.

If dc are saying they're sick (or are about to be) what else can they do but call you?confused Maybe speak to dc about what constitutes being ill. Get them to take some resposibility for the outcome. If mine were getting me called in for no reason I'd be onto my dc about it big time.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:29:25

Believe me, my kids have been thoroughly bollocked and I am completely sick of this nonsense. I am quite capable of leaving them to it. However whenever I back off, the school insists I re-engage with all this on their terms, on the grounds that it is compulsory for parents at this school to do it the school's way, i.e. it's practically our homework and our detentions as a family. Otherwise we get called in for family bollockingsmeetings and have to sit there for hours coming up with complex plans as to how to solve all these 'terribly difficult' problems.

LittleFrieda Mon 26-Nov-12 20:30:47

Your children are possibly picking up on your tendency to ridicule the school and its rules. Just saying.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:31:40

And for the record I spend an eternity talking about the importance of homework (yes, even the shirt drawing) with the DCs, and set them up properly to do it, insist them approach it properly, supervise and support them and generally take the school's side. But here on MN I am speaking my true mind wink

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:32:48

I have never once ridiculed the school or its rules, and indeed until I snapped tonight I was one of its most supportive parents (DH is a governor as well).

BrianButterfield Mon 26-Nov-12 20:33:17

I can't speak for all schools but it's quite unusual for a child to get multiple, repeated homework detentions. I mean, not at all unknown, but in my form there are maybe 2 or 3 students who get any homework detentions at all, let alone repeated ones.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:35:19

Well masses of them get repeated homework detentions at this school. Which makes me wonder about their policy.

amillionyears Mon 26-Nov-12 20:35:39

I never helped my kids do their secondary homework, well maybe twice in total.
I figured that if they couldnt do it, probably other pupils couldnt do it as well, and the teacher ought to know about it.
I also thought they should be self reliant about it, and either swim or sionk and take the personal consquences.

Also, the kids would have heard from me if they were in medical when they shouldnt have been.

Aere any of your children in Year 7, and there are also new members of staff that are being a bit over zealous?

If your child is having multiple detentions than either your child is auditioning for the vacancy caused by the death of Attilla the Hun or your school is crap.

That said I do sympathise with the attitude thing. Our secondary has a bloody good line in patronising and annoying. The ultimate was when they sent a letter home saying it's target setting evening but not saying anything about why this was important. Neither of us could really go that night so we left it - only to get a snot-o-gram home saying 'as you missed the VERY IMPORTANT meeting, here is the information you would have got if you had (bothered) to attend the VERY IMPORTANT meeting' Dh got very cross with them about that and this year when dd2 was going through target setting the letter said exactly what the meeting was and why it was important.

I was livid when dd1 was told her skirt was too short about a week from the end of the summer term. It was less than an inch above the knee and she'd had it for 10 months for heavens sake! I was also livid to get an absence letter last week when 3 days of the 5 dd2 has been off this term were caused by an accident which took place AT SCHOOL. And so it goes on. The stricter the school get the more rebellious and stubborn I get..............not my dds - they're very good - it's me that's the problem grin

Themumsnot Mon 26-Nov-12 20:38:58

I came home the other night and found DH helping one of our DC with their English homework. I was shock as there was way too much parental input going on. If a child is getting too much assistance it is hard for me, as a teacher, to tell how they are really coping with their work.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:40:32

If you don't give something in, for example you packed your bag for the wrong week (rotating timetable) and left it at home, you get the chance to give it in the next day and if you don't do that, you seem to get a detention (even if you were off sick on the day you were supposed to give it in). If you do some decent work on the wrong exercise, because it wasn't clear in class, you seem to get a detention (often these end up being whole class ones). If you fail a test by 1%, you seem to get a detention (again, often whole class oens). If you only do half the homework because it took you a long time to understand, you seem to get a detention. If you have your tie on wrong (I mean not showing five stripes exactly, none of this self-expression malarky) more than twice, you seem to get a detention.

Themumsnot Mon 26-Nov-12 20:41:08

I will agree however that there is something about the tone of school letters that seems designed to reduce parents to the level of five year olds.

FuckingWonderwoman Mon 26-Nov-12 20:49:26

I once had a teacher write "see me" - addressed to me, not DD - in the home-school diary. shockshockshockshock

lljkk Mon 26-Nov-12 20:55:06

Do many of the children commute long distance (well I think 30 miles is long distance each way)? I wonder if school has habits more suited to more local kids. Serious bollocking to child who drags me out for an unnecessary 60 mile round trip.

DH got a nagging text telling us we had failed to sign DS's planner in recent weeks. The school had never previously informed me that I am supposed to sign the planner. I still don't know what it is supposed to mean when I sign his planner. That I have seen it? So what? Does that mean I believe it to have correct info or that he necessarily did the homework listed? Or merely that I can confirm that he hasn't lost it this week. Who knows?

balia Mon 26-Nov-12 20:57:08

Hmm...schools generally don't 'like' giving detentions as it means staff are tied up babysitting when they could be giving meaningful input to students willing to stay after school...

So if in the first example, a child 'forgets' to take it in, and then 'forgets' the next day as well, that seems not unreasonable - but if they (for example) turn up to the detention with the homework, do they still have to do it? Because then you are looking at a power-play type situation. But TBH most school timetables are not the Krypton factor, and a basic check of timetable/bag would sort that out. Doesn't this 'good' school have a VLE that you can access homework on?

If the reality is that your child is given a whole class detention because a couple of kids do the wrong exercise, then that needs raising with Dept/HT. If the reality is that the child isn't writing their homework down as thoroughly a they need to, then ask the school to email you the details.

They do seem detention mad, by your description. Do they get good results? Is that why you chose it?

LittleFrieda Mon 26-Nov-12 21:01:29

DS2 has recently moved to a state sixth form. It's an entirely different culture. I heard nothing at all about his progress, then, this week, "Your son is underperforming his target grade in one of his 4 A level subjects" see me after the mock exams in January. grin

amillionyears Mon 26-Nov-12 21:12:35

I would write down your entire list of grievances, and ask to make an appointment with your child's form teacher or head of year. And go through the list with them one by one, with your child their too.
Prob some can be ironed out, some you will find your child has not quite told you everything correctly, and some may be indeed stupid school rules.

Mathsdidi Mon 26-Nov-12 21:13:35

I have to say that the reasons you are giving for detentions do not seem particularly unreasonable to me. If any child does not hand in homework to me either on the day it is due or the following day then yes they get a detention, in my case it is usually a lunchtime detention but for repeat offenders it would be after school. If they do the wrong exercise they get a detention, because it should be clear in class (if it truly is a whole class problem then you do need to speak to the school and get them to ensure homework is clearly set). If they fail to wear the correct uniform then yes they get a detention (most pupils seem to wear their uniform correctly after such a detention), I don't particularly think uniform is a huge issue but if it's part of the school rules then all of the rules should be followed. If you fail a test you get a detention (except ours are a 'chance to resit and improve your mark') because we generally have very clear expectations that the pupils should be achieving their potential and if they aren't then there is something wrong which is often, but not always, because they are not putting in the effort they should be.

I do know that letters home can be patronising and I truly do sympathise with that. We had a letter telling us how to prepare our child for GCSE exams, namely feed them healthy food, make sure they are properly rested, get them doing some revision hmm. All the parents who have an ounce of sence are doing all that already and the ones who aren't aren't likely to start just because school have sent a letter home.

ivykaty44 Mon 26-Nov-12 21:20:36

I get text messages - from the school disco to don't forgets its teacher training day on friday, also about school lateness and everything in between.

last week though I did get one from my dd's french teacher - she likes texting to let parents know that detentions will be issued if homework is not handed in as it is already late.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now