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>

starlady Tue 27-Nov-12 12:31:24

BoffinMum I have some sympathy with you for the general rude communication from secondary school staff. Yes they do treat us with barely concealed contempt at times.

However -- 60 mile round trip? Was there no schools closer?

adeucalione Tue 27-Nov-12 13:36:08

1. Give bag wiping instructions to your DC and let them do it.

2. Tell your DC to make sure they know what is required of them regarding each homework given - they usually have several days before it's due in, so could clarify any confusing elements with their teacher before the deadline.

3. Tell your DC to stick to the rules so that they don't get detentions.

4. Tell your DC not to tell the school nurse that they are ill if they are not.

I'm really surprised that you are directing your ire at the school tbh.

BoffinMum Tue 27-Nov-12 17:34:16

I really do tell my kids all that. I am not daft. But tbh it goes on and on. Today I had an email at work about DS1's maths homework, which made no sense as the teacher had got a theorem wrong. I had to look it up, check it with someone who had done more maths than me, email her back, and finally she said oh yes she wasn't clear. I am doing this during my working day, and why ?? I think it's the relentless of this that is making me seriously knackered.

Themumsnot Tue 27-Nov-12 17:38:15

To be fair to you Boffinmum there does seem to be an unusual degree of micromanagement on the part of the school.

Maryz Tue 27-Nov-12 17:45:11

The difficulty is, adeucalione, that some of us really cannot control what our children do in and about school. We really can't. I used to tell ds over and over again about not answering back/handing homework on time (he always had it done, just never remembered to hand it in)/going on time etc etc.

He has Asperger's and he never really cared what the teachers thought of him. He did things his way (because in his head his way was right). He would always have a reason for everything he got into trouble for.

ds2 is currently being assessed for ADHD. He is permanently in trouble at school for forgetting his books or his work, for falling asleep in class, for fidgeting (to keep himself awake hmm) for losing things, for being late, for forgetting where to go. He loses his homework journal on a regular basis.

He tries to keep out of trouble but just can't. And me giving him extra lectures or nagging him about it at home doesn't help. Every morning he leaves the house, on time, with all his stuff. Rarely does he go through a day without getting into trouble for something and he's pretty much permanently on report. He doesn't get detentions (they keep those for serious offences, which I'm glad about) but he is often on lunch duty, or dropped from teams, and I suspect he will be banned from the school Christmas disco this year sad. I'm not going to double punish him at home; I did that with ds1 and it made things worse.

dd on the other hand is angelic and does it all by herself, no bother.

Schools vary in their punishments. imo, detention after school is one of the least effective. And letters home to parents has little affect on children whose parents are either trying and getting nowhere, or children who couldn't care less what their parents think.

goralka Tue 27-Nov-12 18:03:02

refreshing maryz after certain smug parents.
boffinmom is this just a normal state school if you don't mind me asking?

boffinmum I've truly never heard anything like it. You have hinted about there being something er unusual about the school? I'm guessing religious?
That has to be it because in 7 years of dealing with my kids secondary (small bog standard comp) I have never been contacted about homework or any of the issues you mention.
They are totally unreasonable and whole class detentions are the worst kind of punishment.

BoffinMum Tue 27-Nov-12 18:55:41

No it's actually state comprehensive school! And all kids travel to school in this area, as there aren't any secondaries near us, so whatever the situation I would end up having to leap into the car if the school called us during the day (admittedly not quite that far).

I never had any of this with DD1, and DS4 is apparently a joy at school and does everything he is told, so there are some small mercies there.

I agree with other posters that so much of this seems to come about as a direct result of the kids SEN and schools really can't get a handle on the fact that the normal rules simply can't apply if the kids have a different brain map.

adeucalione Tue 27-Nov-12 18:57:54

OK so are we saying that some DC simply cannot keep out of trouble, and that there is nothing that the parents can do about it, so they don't want to be told about it? Or is it the way they tell you?

Looking at the original OP, I can see what the school could do about numbers 1 and 4 - not care that the bag needs cleaning, and not send the DC home unless they are obviously really ill.

But what do they do about incorrectly completed homework etc?

orangeandlemons Tue 27-Nov-12 19:16:30

If after school detentions cause issues, then contact the school and ask them for these detentions take place at dinner times

I am always more lenient to kids who have an SEN and may struggle with hopmework. I do expect it to be done, but accept that it may be done wrongly or with spelling mistakes. This isn't a problem. I never ever give whole class detentions.

I imagine the text about the pen was sent out as the school were having a push on equipment thatweek. It may seem minor and trivial, but when you have say 4 kids per lesson turn up without a pen, then by the end of the day, thatis 20 pens you have had to find/lend/collect in,then x that by 5 for each day.

Also most schools have a home/school agreement which you have probably signed agreeing to all the thin gs that are driving you mad! And they will hold you to that!

PropositionJoe Tue 27-Nov-12 19:16:36

Why did you have to deal with the email straight away though, would it not have waited until this evening? I appreciate that they have your work email in case of emergency, but that doesnt mean you have to deal with this one straight away

Arisbottle Tue 27-Nov-12 19:23:27

Speaking from my persepctive as a teacher in a school that some children travel quite a distance to attend and as someone on the frontline when it comes to discipline I do not think the detentions are unreasonable.

Most schools have a two week rolling timetable and students cope. If a student fails to hand in my homework they get a lunchtime detention, usually the next day. If they bring that completed homework to that detention I tend to let them go quite quickly , we actually do not like being in detention . If the child misses a second deadline within a half term they get a lunchtime detention and it would be referred to their house team.. This may prompt a phone call home if there is homework missing from a number of subjects. If a child misses a third homework in a half term I will set an afterschool detention and I expect the child to attend. If I have set a lunchtime detention and the child does not attend, I will set an after school detention.

I say to children who tell me that they can't do after schools that detentions are not a compulsory part of school life and therefore if they are a problem do not earn one. Unless there are extreme circumstances you have agreed to the school discipline policy and if it includes detentions that is how it will be. That does not mean that you cannot lobby for change in the meantime .

Your children have to do their homework, if it is of a poor quality make that known to staff so they can improve it.

I call parents in for meetings, but something has to have gone quite wrong for it to get to that point .

Most days I will be on the phone to parents , it is almost unheard of for me to be on the phone constantly to the same set of parents. Something has gone very wrong here and I think you need to be working with the school not against them. Can you suggest a VLE to the school, they are quite unusual not to have one. All of my home works are also on the VLE with instructions and spare sheets .

I am also the person who authorises children to go home if they are ill, on some ways teachers cannot win. I am something of a dragon and rarely send children home, I suspect you would love me, I know others see me as overly harsh. Can you not discuss with your children why they keep asking to go home? Is there a particular lesson they are trying to miss? They are the ones who are initially causing the problem by claiming to be ill.
.

Arisbottle Tue 27-Nov-12 19:25:20

I would be more concerned that my child was supposed to be studying for A Levels yet was turning up to class with no means of writing than I would be about a note home .

BoffinMum Tue 27-Nov-12 19:28:16

I think the answer to homework non-completion is compulsory attendance at a lunchtime homework club, where kids can be monitored and supported or kicked up the backside as necessary.

In terms of kids getting into trouble, it depends how you define trouble, surely? Graffiti, backchat, truanting, swearing, bullying, theft, fighting and so on, that's what I would call 'trouble'. Gazing out the window, not doing homework, forgetting pens and having hair that is slightly messy are all things that we sometimes try to get away with as grown ups and are of a different order altogether - more vague non-compliance rather than 'trouble'.

I am put in mind of the child of one of my students who was excluded from his primary school on grounds of 'aggressive staring' - the kid has severe Tourette's, the HT wanted him out the school because he was odd, he was never going to be able to win that one. Imagine how his poor mum felt.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Tue 27-Nov-12 19:28:46

Schools set homework to kids. It is the kids repsonsiblity to do it and the shcools to deal with this. Why are parents held responsible for homework.....

BoffinMum Tue 27-Nov-12 19:30:08

Aris, both of mine have statements of SEN for exactly this sort of stuff, so I could do with a bit more support from the school rather than endless detentions.

goralka Tue 27-Nov-12 19:53:06

yes my daughter has SEN and is in a suitable small group so when they tried to give her an after school detention for not doing homework I insisted they give her a lunchtime detention instead - (similar long journey).
The tone of the detention letter as well! 'goretta has failed to do her homework and failed to turn up and failed yet again...'etc etc....
I was furious! The word 'fail' three times!

Arisbottle Tue 27-Nov-12 19:54:05

The line I take with SEN is usually we place extra support in so that all children can meet the rules , therefore they face the same sanctions.

For example we have a homework club run by the SEN department which students can select to go to or they are sometimes referred to. Each house also has a homework clinic which can be used by students, again either voluntarily or by referral from staff.

I also have TAs in some of my tutor groups who work with some students during morning and afternoon tutor time, checking that they have what they need for the day. I also have some of my older students who act as mentors to younger students, checking their homework diaries with them, making sure all work has a deadline recorded and that their diary entries are legible.

I agree that more support is probably needed. Does the school have a published homework timetable so that you know what homework they should be doing on each night. I have my children's homework timetables on the fridge and we follow it religiously as one of my children in particular has had homework issues . If I know that on a Wednesday night geography homework is supposed to be set and the expectation is that they spend 40 minutes on a task they have to do 40 mins of Geography. So they either do the homework that is set, which is usually on the VLE anyway or they have to do something Geography related for that time. This stopped one of my children from rushing their work or claiming there was none.

I sometimes say to parents when their child is struggling with homework allow them to spend the suggested time and then draw it to a close. You may want to put a little note under saying " my child has spent 30 mins on this." Of course check that this would be OK

I also suggest making checklists to use as students pack their bag, you may need a different list for those days when they have PE or a lesson needing equipment. Bags should also be packed the night before, as a middle aged woman I still forget things if I do not do that.

Maryz Tue 27-Nov-12 19:57:50

adeucalione, I think for me it's not that I don't want to know. I'm delighted to be told, and I am available to come in any time to discuss any positive suggestions they have to help.

But the difficulty I have is that the school want me to punish him at home on top of the school punishments. At the moment he is very unhappy in school and being continually punished, despite doing none of the things Boffin has listed as being seriously bad behaviour. I don't want him to also be miserable at home, so I'm trying to be positive and understanding.

Because when I backed the school up 100% with ds1, they simply added more and more to the "punishment" until eventually he deliberately got himself expelled (and self-medicated with any drugs he could get his hands on to add to the problems).

Maryz Tue 27-Nov-12 20:00:44

That all sounds great Arisbottle. ds's homework is random. He always does it, but often forgets to hand it in.

And he isn't allowed to return to his locker to get it, either. Which I can understand (you can't have loads of children wandering around the classrooms), but it is a disaster for him.

A homework club (or even someone to talk to occasionally) would make the world of difference to him.

TheFallenMadonna Tue 27-Nov-12 20:01:19

I can't allow leeway on homework deadlines because I have to mark it, and I have a timetable for that! And I give feedback that needs to be looked at before the next task.

We gave an after school homework club. We write homework in planners for some students. I email work home for some too, so their parents are aware that they have it and what it is. Would that annoy you?!

goralka Tue 27-Nov-12 20:03:41

homework club would be great, and the emailing...none of that here tho', just fail fail fail.

difficultpickle Tue 27-Nov-12 20:42:14

I got an email last week telling me ds had put an elastic band on his head when he should have been reading. I like the fact the school are keen on communication but you can have too much of a good thing hmm

The best was match day when 20 mins before the start of the matches the school sent a text saying the venues had changed - one year playing away that had been intending to play at home and vice versa for the other year. I was sitting in my office imaging all the supporting parents driving like madmen (or more likely women) to get to the right place.

difficultpickle Tue 27-Nov-12 20:45:08

That was meant to be a grin

amillionyears Tue 27-Nov-12 21:23:13

You and your DH have a problem with the schools detention policy.
As you are both school Governors, or even just as parents, can you take find out the school policy on this?
When I disagreed or wanted to know about a school policy, the school even let me take the policy home to read. Or a copy of it, I cant remember quite which.
Our primary school had 32 policies when my kids were there. Everything from first aid to bullying. All available for the parents to read should they so wish.

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