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>

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 21:20:57

Do you know, a VLE would make the world of difference in this house. I might suggest that. I know other parents there who would love this.

DH has come home and I had a bit of a rant to him, and there are one or two points that are inconsistent in terms of school policy and general messages that are supposed to be going out. So he will raise that as a collective concern at the next governing body meetings, plus he is going to challenge the assumption that all mothers are sitting at home waiting for the school's next diktat or edict (which drives many of us completely potty).

One factor here though is that both of our boys have statements of SEN and the school is supposed to be giving them support, butit is not very helpful when the TA is in a foreign language classroom, doesn't have a clue what is going on, and writes the homework down for DS2 phonetically in his planner in illegible handwriting, which we all then have to try to decode (that's one example).

We chose the school for lots of reasons, but mainly because it's a small school more suited to our boys than their local school, plus some important cultural reasons I can't list here or I will out myself.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 21:23:59

I think they are completely detention mad, by the way given that many of the kids there are super compliant already, seriously, and would be regardless of the number of detentions given.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 21:26:56

I would add that there are some specific details as to why I feel so irritated by this school at the moment that I simply can't address on here as it would immediately become obvious which school it was.

tiggytape Mon 26-Nov-12 22:50:04

YABabitU

1. Just very odd!

2. Boring or not they have to do it but it shouldn't involve your involvement for hours each week. If it does then that needs raising with the school.

3. Constant detentions must partially be down to DCs unless you are really saying that in every class of 30, all of them are in solid detentions. DS's school are hot on detentions for minor things too - a lot of schools seem to do this now in fact. That doesn't mean they all get them but the ones that continue to not hand in homework / forget their games kit do seem to be in pretty much constant detentions every week. Mine is only Year 7 though - I figured the school do this to break them and by Christmas they are all compliant and hand in their homework?? Or maybe some of them are just destined to be in detentions forever more?

The SEN issue is different though. If your child's TA is not enabling them to access the work correctly then again this is something the school needs to know about.

4. The sickness thing isn't the school's fault. They have to follow the guidelines on infection control. If your child reports to the nurse that they've vomited, or are about to, they have to go home.
So either your DC was sick and the school did the right thing or your DC faked it / exaggerated / was being a bit dramatic in which case it is down to your DC. The school aren't allowed to weed out genuine-contagious-sick-people from possibly-faking-it-sick people so you need to tell DC not to go to the nurse unless they are genuinely ill with something that won't allow them to be wolfing down pizza 3 hours later.

And I agree with you on the presentation evenings. We have had a lot of them over the years on how to teach a child timetables, how to get them to approach comprehension exercises, how to spot nits, how to label a lunchbox and how to use the I.T homework system.
It never occurs to any school that people who bother to come home from work early especially to get to these things are probably the people who already do all this stuff anyway and that the people who the school are cross with for not signing the spellings sheet or whatever are probably also the exact same people who won’t bother to come to an afternoon session to be nagged about it either!

TheFallenMadonna Mon 26-Nov-12 23:01:31

I give detentions for incomplete or absent homework. If a student is absent, I still expect them to do it, although I do of course stretch the deadline. I don't accept the "I didn't get it" excuse, as I give a week for completion and I expect any questions to be asked before hand in date.

My DS has just started at secondary school, and if he gets an after school detention, he will have to wait at school until I can pick him up after I finish work, as there is only a school bus. So far, he has done his homework on time.

casma Mon 26-Nov-12 23:07:21

I can relate to this - last week we got an email from DD's tutor asking us to ensure she brings a pen to class. She is 16 and in sixth form. Why they think I should monitor her pen usage I don't know!

Maryz Mon 26-Nov-12 23:13:24

I like some of my children's school's disciplinary measures.

They have to do "lunchtime duty" - which is clearing plates etc and wiping down tables.

And once or twice ds has been allocated to the caretaker and made to clear out the changing rooms or the shed they put all the sports stuff in. And pick up litter.

Those type of punishments make children think.

I also have no problem with children being punished for incomplete homework - as long as the teacher actually checks the homework. ds has changed maths teacher this year, and has had a horrible shock. After a year of not bothering, he came home and said "Mr X actually takes up our homework and marks it shock, I'm going to have to do it properly".

I was very pleased.

AlfalfaMum Mon 26-Nov-12 23:46:18

I like the idea of that type of punishment too, Maryz, I'd see it as my DC learning useful skills at the same time grin

I can't say any of the correspondences I get from DD1's school are ever snotty or condescending... Although her English teacher did sound a bit irked the second time he sent me a note reminding me to buy DD1 a book for her course blush

I reckon detention should be reserved for really bad behaviour, not just being a bit forgetful or something. It's disruptive to home life, and potentially dangerous when you end up with a thirteen year old walking home alone in the dark.

AlfalfaMum Mon 26-Nov-12 23:52:26

Oh and Boffinmum, can you please give me a link to your fucking housekeeping blog? I'm quite keen on blogs.

BoffinMum Tue 27-Nov-12 08:01:32

Maryz, they are great punishments and a lot more likely to reform naughty children IMO.

Alfalfa, grin it's Austerity Housekeeping Christmas to do list and planner due to go up today if my children give me five minutes to do it.

DH is going to raise question of central website point for letters to parents as the home/school communication on the admin front is comparatively poor (another crisis today as we didn't know proper details of a trip).

Going to have a World's Strictest Parents parents week too, and confiscate loads of electronic stuff (oh, the power), give lectures to perpetrators, set tasks in garden and so on. If anyone has any ironing, now is a good time to send it over wink

BoffinMum Tue 27-Nov-12 08:05:44

NorthernLurker, FWIW, target setting as a concept is a bit out of date and has been more or less discredited as an educational tactic in this context. Presumably the deputy head had just been on a course, and decided to import it without being aware of this. The buzz word now is 'personalised learning plans'.

PropositionJoe Tue 27-Nov-12 08:21:46

Hi boffin. You're normally pretty reasonable on here aren't you. I think the issues that you can't raise on here, probably combined with your concerns about the extra support your sons need, are meaning that you are getting this out of proportion. Detentions for missing homework are standard and if your sons then have to wait for a later train, they can be doing homework at school, can't they. If the homework set had really been unclear, the whole class would have got it wrong, presumably there would have been no detention the I suspect your son wasn't listening. Drawing a shirt is presumably an exercise in shading and pencil control, not unreasonable. The illness thing is down to your kids, not the sick room.

It does sound as if letters being on the website would help, many schools do this I think.

JugglingWithPossibilities Tue 27-Nov-12 08:29:52

Hmm, back later ... school run first !

JugglingWithPossibilities Tue 27-Nov-12 08:31:33

Ooh, glad to hear that they might be moving on from "target setting" as a concept for children's learning boffin smile

Mathsdidi Tue 27-Nov-12 09:17:12

Ofsted still seem to want children to know their targets though. So all my classes have them dutifully copied into their planners. Do they know what they mean? They know vaguely what levels are good or bad. Do they know what they need to do to achieve their targets? Do what 'Miss' tells them and work hard, which the majority of them would be doing anyway.

amillionyears Tue 27-Nov-12 09:22:07

It sounds to me ,in your particular case, that you would be better off doing HE.

JugglingWithPossibilities Tue 27-Nov-12 09:40:34

On targets etc. ....

My DD wrote a wonderful piece of creative writing last night. She was then checking the descriptions for pieces of writing at each level ... level 6C, 7A etc.
and thinking about which level hers would receive, and also I think ways in which she could improve it towards the next level. It had categories for different elements of the writing too, such as interesting vocab, use of grammar etc. That all seems really good to me. She has often told me proudly eg " I got a 7B for my history test Mum "

But I don't see any real benefit in her being set a target as in by the end of key stage 3 you will be achieving a level 7C in English (or whatever - I admit I'm not very familiar with it all ... and forget whether A is better or C is ! ). Why not just shoot for the stars as my DD does, and see where you land ? smile

ThePoppyAndTheIvy Tue 27-Nov-12 09:48:42

DS1's school is also detention obsessed. Especially the RE Dept. DS1 has Aspergers & Dyslexia but it's not uncommon for him to get an RE detention for poor spelling!! I'm convinced his RE teacher doesn't know what dyslexia actually is!

As for the bag wiping instructions, that's ace grin.

jeee Tue 27-Nov-12 09:53:27

My eldest has been in secondary school for half a term. To date, the only contact I've had from the school has been one letter about a report which she hadn't yet got. Which meant that we had some problem decoding the letter. Her report was sent home a couple of weeks after that.

Your children's school seems positively slack on the detention front - if DD doesn't hand her homework in on the day that it is due, a detention will follow. No excuses. She doesn't have the luxury of bringing it in the next day. She narrowly avoided a detention when she forgot her apron for cookery food tech.

After primary school, it's great not to have the school breathing down our parental necks. Largely the school seems to be of the opinion that school is the child's responsibility.

JugglingWithPossibilities Tue 27-Nov-12 10:03:36

Yes it's very tricky around special needs and discipline isn't it ?
My DD has mild dyslexia and I do feel it affects things like her organisation and presentation as well as her spelling.
Of course we all want to work together to improve these things.
I'm not great on organisation either (and may have some attention deficit traits) and you feel schools could try and make some allowances/ show some understanding towards the different challenges faced by parents and families too. Sometimes I have to say individuals do show this sort of caring attitude and it is always appreciated.
But sometimes you feel a more blanket approach has been taken don't you ?
Comments on work along the lines of "must improve presentation" seem a little annoying !
And you do wonder at secondary school if all teachers are aware of the more nuanced special needs and individual differences of the children.
My DD has been recognised as having mild dyslexia at primary school and for example is taking part in a research project at Cambridge University to understand elements of dyslexia better.

bb99 Tue 27-Nov-12 10:48:27

OOOhhh I could just go on and on and on....to general parents....

Detentions aren't supposed to be convenient. That's the point isn't it? Where a friend teaches, the kids get detentions for failing their class assessments and for not handing in homework. It has the best results around as when the kids 'do their time', there's a lot of teacher input to help the kids iron out any problems. Parents are not always supportiive of this as it's 'disruptive', inconvenient and their children moan and moan about it, but at the end of the day it's for the educational benefit of the kids. They have a zero tolerance policy on lateness and uniform as well. The reason they are soo passionate about the lateness thing is that when you are all grown up you can't keep being 5 mins late for work. You need to learn these habits when you are young. Same with uniform. If there's a dress code at work, you need to know how to stick to it. Same with general rules. If there are health and safety rules at work you need to know how to comply with them. Let's face it - rules can be really annoying. Understanding how to and why we follow them is a skill.

The same can be said of dc1s school. dc1 has gotton into trouble for doing daft things like bucking uniform norms and has had negative events for forgetting stuff and not doing things in time. dc1 is now (several years on) much better organised.

Having said all that OP the quality of TA would drive me insane and may/could be at the bottom of a lot of the issues your boys are having? It would appear that the support offered doesn't seem to be enablng them to do things like keep their tie on to the schools standard, or support them understanding their homework etc etc. Do they have a 1 to 1 assigned to them or different TA in each class? If 1 to 1 then their individual needs should be much better (IMO) supported and you should be involved in that??

Teaches do generally GENUINELY care aabout our childrens' progress and achievement. I don't know a single person who is in teaching who isn't passionate about the achievement of the kids in their care and want them to achieve their best (even if the children don't want to!!).

realcoalfire Tue 27-Nov-12 11:07:56

The secondary school is great, any communications always very respectful.

Re the primary school -The only thing that bugs me are the nit/thtreadworms letters. A parent has very sensibly informed school that there has been a case of ....'
The 'very sensibly' sounds like something you would say to an 8 year old.

Their misuse of practice/practise bugs me too, as does their inability to spell our very common surname ,but that's another thread

realcoalfire Tue 27-Nov-12 11:12:21

Just to hijack.
None of my DC have had after school detentions yet, but if/when they do they will not be able to get home! We live in a rural area 8.5 miles from school (travel by LEA chartered coach)and no public transport.I am a SAHM and DH isn't home with the car til 6.00.there is no way I would fork out £20+ for a taxi.They would just have to keep them there til DH could collect them.

Mathsdidi Tue 27-Nov-12 12:09:51

real You'll have to make sure your kids know that then and don't do anything they know will get them an after school detention.
If there are a lot of rural kids then the school should have a policy of ensuring that after school detentions are only for more serious transgressions. I know my last school had 85% of pupils arriving on school buses and their policy was that lunchtime was the time for detentions, after school was only allowed after a variety of other punishments/consequences had been given, and only in consultation with the Head of Year who knows the family. There was even one teacher who would then drive the kids home if they had no other way of getting home.

imnotmymum Tue 27-Nov-12 12:16:44

Never experienced this with our Dcs school at all.

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