Concerns about secondary school - DD just started yr7

(98 Posts)
PermaShattered Sun 15-Sep-13 22:12:54

I could do with some advice/guidance. My DD started year 7 in secondary school two weeks ago and i'm going into school later this week to air some concerns.

My DD has settled well and really enjoying herself on the whole. Some will recognise me as the mum of a child offered a grammar school place which was then withdrawn 7 days later (investigation still ongoing...). So to have her settling in well is fantastic smile

Anyway, these are my concerns/worries:

1. Mobile phone policy: no phones allowed. If seen in school they are confiscated, to be collected only by parents. If found a second time, their bags will be searched.

2. The children have no lockers or cloakroom and have to carry everything around with them. There is nowhere to leave anything.

3. So - if they have a coat with them they are not allowed to hang them on the back of their chairs, they must put them on the floor.

4. Lunchtimes: these are half an hour (the school day ends at 3pm). They have 20 mins to eat, then have to sit in silence and read for 10 mins.

I won't say (at this point) what i think of those - because I'd like to hear what others think, and whether the school is breaching any rules/regulations, etc

Many thanks is advance!

picnicbasketcase Mon 16-Sep-13 21:57:07

Good to read this - DS has just started yr 7 too and I have been quite bemused by the absence of lockers, but I guess it's just standard.

NonnoMum Mon 16-Sep-13 22:00:44

They all sound weird rules to me.

Rufus43 Mon 16-Sep-13 22:09:38

Just checked with son,

Normal for mobile phones, don't think his bag would be searched though

His lunch break is 40 minutes and they can do what they want (within reason!) with no silent reading

They can have a locker but he doesn't use one (to my daughter does)

He doesn't know about coats, he has never seen one over a chair and IF someone brings one in its usually kept in their locker or bag

curlew Mon 16-Sep-13 22:12:15

The lunch time on is the only thing I'd have a problem with- it sounds bonkers. The others all seem pretty normal. I would tell her to shove her coat into her bag rather than put it on the floor, though.

Do they have very little outside space? Or a serious bullying problem they think they can solve by not letting the kids be unsupervised at all?

tiggytape Mon 16-Sep-13 22:38:38

Rufus - my DS's response was similar when I asked him about caots (he hasn't taken one as yet - 4th term at the school). I might as well have asked him where pet aardvarks were stowed during lessons! We went back and forth a bit with puzzled looks on both sides before he conceded that pupils must put them in their bags because he’s never seen one in the school!

tiggytape Mon 16-Sep-13 22:40:41

*coats of course. So rare I cannot spell it!

bruffin Tue 17-Sep-13 08:45:51

the 30 minutes at lunchtime is to keep them out of trouble. At dcs school they have a normal lunch time but a huge amount of clubs to keep them occupied.
DCs school are lax about mobiles, only real rule is off during lessons and on way to lessons and no photos without permission of those being photographed.
Lockers are paid for in yr 7 and they have them all the way through until yr 11
No idea about the coats, but fairly sure they can hang them on back of chair.

PermaShattered Tue 17-Sep-13 09:02:21

Coats are clearly totally uncool for secondary schools! I'm bemused. I wonder why?!

SanityClause Tue 17-Sep-13 09:40:08

Who knows!

When I started at senior school, girls wore their skirts as short as possible, rolling them up, up they could get away with it. Socks were ankle socks. In the winter we wore ties, which were done up in as big a knot as possible.

By the time I left, skirts were long - below the knee was fine - sweaters were worn as big as possible, and socks were thick knee high socks, pushed down around the ankles. Also, there was a specific type of school shoe that was "cool". Ties were worn thin.

Where do these "rules" come from?

tiggytape Tue 17-Sep-13 09:43:18

It was all snoods and legwarmers in my day!

curlew Tue 17-Sep-13 09:46:34

At dd's school, they favour scarves the size of Manhatten, and ds's Superdry jackets. Which have the advantage of being stuffable into bags.

They are allowed to hang them on the backs of chairs, by the way.

Shootingatpigeons Tue 17-Sep-13 12:46:25

To be honest I am shocked that any school not modelled on Strangeways Prison gave their pupils only 20 mins to eat and then 10 mins reading in silence under supervision. At the local comprehensive schools they do only get 40 mins break, and finish at 3 but at least they have to decide how to use their time, no wonder pupils are emerging from school with no initiative. If having time that they have to fill themselves is boring, then boring is good, and if they fill the time playing up they have to learn that is not acceptable either. Perhaps without phones their pupils didn't know what to do? They also have to go outside unless it is raining torrentially or arctic. And what school institutes such a short break because the pupils want it and to go home early? I just hope they have an employer who bows to the sense of entitlement that would give? Do they have a morning break? Having conceded and put in these arrangements they can't change it though.

I wouldn't go in though, year 7 parents tend to still cling on to the close involvement you had at primary. Every year at DDs school the year 7 parents came in asking why they wore skanky sweat shirts, couldn't they have a nice jumper, and every 3 or 4 years they tried to trial a nice jumper and not a single pupil would be seen dead in it. Hell would freeze over before they wore a coat. That is until year 11ish when they suddenly realise they don't have to follow the herd and freeze. I made my DDs take a coat but was under no illusions it didn't get stuffed in their bag. It just made me feel better that should they be crouched in a gutter by the bus stop with the beginnings of hypothermia there would be a source of insulation available to them.

Their last Headmistress walked on to the stage on the first day of DD1s year 7 wearing the then chosen "uniform", the official uniform subverted by obscenely short skirt, laddered black tights (though DDs claim that was the lethal splintered desks) and pashmina knotted at throat. She was 59 and 6 ft. The school fell about laughing and after 10 mins of hysteria she fixed them with a glare, they stopped laughing and she said "I think I have made my point" .

Glad to hear your daughter is settling well though, and that the maladministration has been taken seriously.

VivaLeThrustBadger Tue 17-Sep-13 12:58:34

Im not meaning to sound arsey but I really wouldn't go in. It might not be ideal but its worked for the school for some years I would think before your dd started there. Other kids have managed.

If she is struggling on particular days due to having too much stuff then I'm sure her tutor or head of year would let her stash some stuff in a room. Dd's school sounds very similar.....I've never known her to have PE and cookery on the same day so I suspect they may have thought of this when doing the timetable.

I know when she's made a big model for homework for a lesson that isn't till the afternoon the head of year has let her keep it in her office for the day.

I'm sure she'll get used to it.

alreadytaken Wed 18-Sep-13 20:07:13

1. Mobile phone policy: school allowed phones if kept turned off.
If they were spotted they would be taken away. The child could collect the phone at the end of the day. If it happened again the parent was supposed to go and get it but I dont know if that happened. Much laxer with 6th form, even if the phone went off they'd probably just be told off.

2. The children have no lockers or cloakroom.
Check - there may be a few around but they tend not be used anyway as their stuff has to be carted to different classrooms. Musical instruments left at music room.

3. So - if they have a coat with them.

Oh I wish - most wouldn't wear one. Any wearing a coat (most probably a jacket or hoody) would put it on the back of the chair. Suspect this became a status thing as those driven to school could manage without them. By the 6th form they may wear one again if you are lucky. Scarves and gloves are acceptable in the worst weather.

4. Lunchtimes: these are half an hour (the school day ends at 3pm). They have 20 mins to eat, then have to sit in silence and read for 10 mins.

Totally odd as this doesn't allow lunchtime clubs. Also any sensible person knows that children need exercise even if it just walking behind the bike shed for a cigarette.

At secondary there are lots of pupils and one parent can have little influence. Join the PTA or become a governor if you wish to try and get policies changed. Personally I wouldn't suggest visiting to ask about this, save your time and energy for the more serious issues that will come up.

Schools sometimes have silly sounding rules so that the pupils can rebel against them rather than have more serious rebellion.

Found this because I was curious about the EPA result.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Wed 18-Sep-13 20:33:26

Apart from #4 it is the same at my DD's school.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 18-Sep-13 22:39:33

Am feeling increasingly happy with the sensible place that is DD1's new secondary school.
1. mobiles allowed if switched off and not seen (so can be used on the way home.
2. plenty of lockers, but you have to pay a deposit for a key
3. coats can't be worn in school (but are allowed and can go in lockers if you can persuade your child to wear one).
4. 50 min lunch break - oodles of lunchtime clubs on offer

In fact one reason we rejected the school's main competitor was the insanely short "lunch break" which was either at 11:30am or 1:30pm, depending how unlucky you were with your timetable. Don't think I could cope with that myself and definitely didn't want to inflict it on my kids.

JGBMum Thu 19-Sep-13 07:29:33

Rather than going in, how about emailing your DDs form tutor with your concerns, unless you have a y7 parents event coming up in the next few weeks?

apatchylass Thu 19-Sep-13 08:08:42

shootingpigeons I love that headmistress!

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 21-Sep-13 22:21:22

Well you know when I was at school there were no mobile phones. They shouldn't be on in school but confiscation and returning to the child at the end of the day is enough - especially for full time working parents. I don't think many teachers and SLTs actually get the idea of full time working parents being unable to get away and get to the school by 5pm before the office shuts shop. If a school had confiscated a phone in those circumstances and if my child got into difficulties on the way home I would hold the school entirely responsible for any harm if they had refused to return the phone.

Lockers - when I was at school we all had desks with space inside them for our books and small belongings - there was no theft because there were consequences if thieves were caught in the form of expulsion but of course it never happened.

Again, when I was at school we had cloakrooms where coats could be hung or in the upper school we had pegs outside or in the classroom. It is slovenly to expect coats to be left on the floor and I think it's unacceptable. I don't put my coat on the floor in theatres or cinemas as someone upthread has suggested.

Lunch - we used to have tables with proper cutlery, proper plates and the teachers sat on the stage for theirs in the hall with us. We did it in two sittings and lunch lasted for an hour. It didn't have to be less to keep children out of trouble because if there was trouble there were consequences.

This is exactly what happens at my dc's schools too. We moved dd from a comp with an exceptional reputation because of declining standards - largely poor behaviour which meant the op's concerns were in place in the school. Had the behaviour of a small minority it would have been possible to run a civilised school. That's why we moved dd from the state system.

It isn't good enough and it isn't acceptable. My DC don't hang their coats on the floor at homed and I don't expect them to be hung on the floor at all. It is about the erosion of standards and standards are not good enough. But I would agree there is no point complaining in isolation - schools need strong governors and strong PTAs but these are too often peopled by those who are only doing it to bolster attention and privilege for their own DC.

I think it's really really sad that teachers think these sort of standards and this way of treating the majority of young people are acceptable - that's why I have lost respect for the state system; really it is.

Tuhlulah Wed 25-Sep-13 13:59:40

1. Phones -have to be handed in at the start of the day and collected from form teacher at end of day.
2. He has a desk and locker (the school sells combination locks, although the kids say there are never any thefts -they probably don't want another school book or PE kit!)
3. Not sure. But his school is very keen on the kids looking smart so i don't think they'd propose putting a blazer on the floor. (Bloody outrageous, and what kind of example is that? I agree with Marriedinwhiteisback). And what about when it's rainy outside -what do they do with wet coats? All wet and sloppy on the floor, leaving puddles, and a health and safety issue?
4. 25 minutes for lunch.

They have two 25 minute breaks, am and pm during which I hope they go outside.

I really don't think you should Go In To School over this.
Like it or not these are things which are almost universal in secondary schools.
I'd save the going in for the important stuff.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 25-Sep-13 15:41:34

It sounds like this school is within normal parameters, though they vary. DDs is
1) phones must be switched off - if one rings they get a penalty point. I don't think they confiscate. This seems ideal to me - DD has a long bus journey and we have to pick her up from the bus stop so its really useful that she can let us know if the bus is delayed.

2) they do have lockers - I gather this is not that common nowadays.

3) no idea about coats, the lockers are quite small... DD only wears one when the weather is really bad.

4) longer lunchtime (not sure how long) - quite a lot of clubs, orchestra etc run during lunch. They can also buy food at break. They certainly don't sit in silence the rest of the time (apart from chatting, DD and her friends sometimes play games... I think she's outgrown tag but not 100% sure!)

Vivacia Wed 25-Sep-13 15:55:16

I think you are completely wasting everyone's time having a meeting over these normal, reasonable rules.

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