What is your experience of Parent's Evening in Secondary school?

(48 Posts)
CrazyforCrochet Tue 14-Jun-16 09:39:13

Would other mums please let me know of their experience of Parent's Evenings please? It is my child's first year of secondary school and her parent's evening was a washout. Firstly pupils have to make the appointments themselves. Teachers post lists of times on their door and pupils have to book their parents in for appointments (5 minute slots). There are over a 1,000 pupils and each teacher teaches two year groups. Parent's evening lasts from 3.30 to 6.30 so if you work it out each teacher can only see half of her pupils. It is 'first-come, first-served' really - whoever has a class at the moment the teacher posts her appointment list on the door gets to book an appointment. In the end, my daughter was only able to get appointments for 4 out of a possible 14 teachers, for Art, French, Textiles and Geography. We really specifically wanted to see her Maths, English and Science teachers.
The Head said that parents would get an email report from any teacher you couldn't get to see, but this was just a couple of lines and not any different to a school report. We were very disappointed with our first experience of parent's evening at secondary school. I have written to the Head about it and she said she realised that all parents do not get to make appointments but that she was loathe to ask teachers to give up any more time. I also wrote to the Chair of School Governors who just said the same really. I spoke to other mums and they were also disappointed that they only got to see 2 or 3 teachers. I was wondering if it was just our school or if other parents have experienced similar, or if their school organises things better?

troutsprout Tue 14-Jun-16 09:48:08

We are sent a letter with details of the evening and then we have to tick a time frame which suits us best (3.30-5.30/4.30-6.30/5.30-7.30/6.30-8.30)
Then we get sent a list of times and teachers.
Times vary from 5 mins- 10 mins depending on the teacher and <<snort>> which of my children it involves.

Sadik Tue 14-Jun-16 09:48:33

I've found secondary parents evening good, on the whole (though whether the teachers agree, I can't say!).

There's just one year group per parents evening. In theory there is an appointments sheet, but in practice no teachers use them - all the teachers are at tables in the halll, and you go to whichever is free and/or queue for the ones you want.

I'd say that's more efficient, because most teachers you only need a minute or so to check everything's fine, others you may need to spend more than 5 minutes to discuss a problem. There do tend to be queues for English & Maths (esp maths this year as dd's teacher is also head of her year), but not that long.

The school is much smaller - under 100 in dd's year. But . . . surely a larger year group would have more teachers - they're still in classes of 30 for most subjects! Having said that I suspect quite a lot of parents don't go, but then that's probably the case at most schools?

troutsprout Tue 14-Jun-16 09:53:44

Oh and Generally I get to see all my dd's teachers. If the computer can't sort it ( and I want to speak to them) then I phone up the school and ask for them to phone me with a verbal report . Don't think I've ever done that though... With ds they did occasionally phone me smile
Usually I am on the lookout for an unexpected gap if there is a teacher I want to see and jump in if they are willing for a chat.

ThoraGruntwhistle Tue 14-Jun-16 09:55:25

DS's school does the same thing with the five minute appointments. This means you either rush through speaking to the teachers so you're not holding up other people (which I tend to do) or many other parents seem to just take however much time they want leading to massive queues building up. I have seen some sit there chatting for 15 minutes whilst others get increasingly fed up waiting.

You end up missing out the 'less important' subjects in order to get to the next appointment your children have booked in.

The whole experience is irritating and you often come away still having no idea how your DC is doing in some subjects because the queues are too long.

senua Tue 14-Jun-16 10:01:41

Have I read this right? You are in first year (?Y7) and are only having your first parents' evening now? It's a bit late in the year - most have it earlier than that in case there are settling-in problems.

But, yes, the appointments system is rubbish. It is usually followed for the first half hour and then breaks down, it's a case of grabbing whichever teacher happens to be free. Maths and English teachers are always the busiest.

BertPuttocks Tue 14-Jun-16 10:05:28

Ours has moved on to an online booking system, which at least gives parents more of a choice about who to see and when.

The actual evening is still hectic and stressful though. The teachers are spread out across the school, which means rushing from one end of the building to the other to try to get to the next appointment on time.

If a teacher's appointments are running late you have the dilemma of whether to wait and risk missing the next teacher, or moving on and missing the late teacher completely.

Borogoves Tue 14-Jun-16 10:06:13

We've just experienced our first secondary school parents' evening and I was quite impressed. Appointments are booked on line and you can choose to see up to six teachers. You select the ones you want to see and the times you are available between and the computer generates the times. Each appointment is four minutes long.It's like speed dating. The school bell rings when it's time for you to move along. Four minutes sounds short but we found it to be ample time. The appointments all ran exactly to time too so we were done and dusted within 30 minutes.

BertPuttocks Tue 14-Jun-16 10:08:36

<applies for an immediate transfer to Borogoves' school> envy

useyourimagination Tue 14-Jun-16 10:09:15

We use an online booking system - tick the teachers you want to see and a start time and it works it all out for you. Or you can select manually to suit yourself.

Having said that, it's a much small school than yours and they only do one year group at a time.

iseenodust Tue 14-Jun-16 10:15:39

No appointments. All the teachers sit at little tables in the main hall, you just queue nearby & should stick to 5 mins. The glaring presence of the queue seems to ensure no-one really drags out their slot. Only one year group per parents evening.

chunkymum1 Tue 14-Jun-16 10:17:16

Even if you agree with the Head's point about teachers not being asked to give up more time for parents evening surely the idea that pupils book their parents' appointments is bonkers? Surely this means that (at least some) pupils will book their parents in to see teachers of subjects where they are doing well and not those where they are struggling/misbehaving etc? I'd be speaking to the Head about that point- may not be applicable to your DC now but may as they get older.

notamummy10 Tue 14-Jun-16 10:27:14

When I was at school, I believe they broke parents evening up by the year groups so the teachers had more time for parents. Each year group had its own evening but spread out through out the spring/summer term.

The only time we had to book appointments was with our form tutor to discuss if we met our targets; in the autumn (and sometimes summer) term, we had SMART days where the parents booked an appointment to see the form tutor and set targets for the upcoming year - we got the day off school too!

CrazyforCrochet Tue 14-Jun-16 10:28:55

Thank you all for your replies so far. I am going to pass on some of these suggestions to the school (though I doubt they will take any notice). I'm particularly impressed with the schools with online booking systems and the bell ringing to tell you to move from one appointment to the next - what a great idea. Looks like Borogoves school has the right idea.
I just feel like our school is 'ticking the box' with parents evening - offering one but whether parents actually get to meet teachers is neither here nor there. Yes you are right Senua - it is late to have a parent's eve - that's what I thought too.
Any more experiences gratefully received please.

titchy Tue 14-Jun-16 11:04:56

Our school has separate parents evening for each year group. Kids book 5 minute slot. Bell rings every 5 minutes. It's like speed dating.

noblegiraffe Tue 14-Jun-16 11:19:40

As a teacher, I notice that Y7 parents can struggle with the difference between primary and secondary parents evenings. They seem to settle down for a long chat with a teacher who really knows their child and are rather surprised to be quickly given some information by a teacher who maybe teaches their kid a couple of lessons a fortnight and need photos to remind them of names, then are turfed out for the next lot of parents.

When I do appointments I say what set they are in and what that means, roughly where they are in the set based on test scores, briefly mention homework and behaviour (unless poor) and then ask if there are any questions. There's not much time!

If you are really concerned about your child, ask to speak to the teacher on the phone. If the email you received says 'doing well, pleasure to teach' then there probably isn't much more to say.

WankersHacksandThieves Tue 14-Jun-16 11:27:32

Ours is similar to yours OP it's generally pandemonium. If it helps, the first one was the worst as most parents want to see most teachers. Later on they tend to prioritise the subjects that DC want to keep on, or are struggling in.

I had an argument with them about English as one teacher had two classes from the same year so gave all her appointments to one class and the other didn't get any! They set up a couple of appointments after the end of school for the next week for those able to make it. (only an extra 10 minutes every day so not too impactive).

Anyway, just to say it does get better smile

WankersHacksandThieves Tue 14-Jun-16 11:30:47

I also meant to add, it would be helpful if parents who have a specific need to see a teacher as there are issues, set up a separate appointment with the school/teacher and not use parents' evening. The slots are only five minutes, it's not enough time to do anything more than give a quick update and discuss a couple of helpful bullet points. Using it for anything more generally means they all run late, people miss out on other appointments as they've missed their slot and then parents night ends before they get to see anyone.

that goes for teachers too, if there are people that you need to see, make an appointment for them to come in.

BabyGanoush Tue 14-Jun-16 12:23:31

Borogoves, our school is similar(but 5 mins per slot)

You input in computer system which teachers you'd like to see, then it generates a schedule.

We also have all teachers e-mails if we have questions/issues. They always reply within 24 hours.

lljkk Tue 14-Jun-16 12:36:28

gosh, what parent would show up if they could only speak to 2-3 teachers?

DC1: too disorganised to make appts, we sat around with hawk eyes for a chance to nip in for 2 minute chats when teachers had gaps (all sitting in assembly hall)

DC2: always works as a helper on parent evenings, her team manages appts & shoos parents along if they start to over run.

DC3 (now in yr7): has made some appts (this week!).

With DC1's school we had poor communication, but with DC2-3's school I have found the teachers very accessible on Email (pity for them??!) so not had a problem communicating if we needed.

I think we are moving towards only doing PE if we think our kids will benefit... what I mean is, if there are no issues or no need to emphasise to kid that school is important, then I wouldn't bother going.

HPFA Tue 14-Jun-16 12:36:32

Another one with a good experience. Online booking ran smoothly and we got to see everyone we wanted to. Didn't have too many delays. Mainly though impressed by how well teachers seemed to know DD - luckily for the right reasons.
This school (a comp) is not our nearest so relieved to know we seem to have made the right decision despite the inconvenience.

deepdarkwood Tue 14-Jun-16 13:13:13

Our school does a similar system to some others mentioned here- and I was actually blown away by the first parents eve! Every teacher had a clear sense of ds, his attitude & attainment; could give us pointers on anything he needed to do AND managed to make him feel great about his achievements. Can't ask for more.
More practically, the system was:
- online booking of 5 min slots, 5 mins between slots to allow for moving round the halls/any overrun
- times stuck to by teachers, who all had clocks on desks
- except if you turned up early and a teacher wasn't occupied - we gained a few minutes that way

They did warn is in advance that some teachers who teach across the year would be in demand, but we saw everyone we wanted.it looked like chaos. But ran smoothly!

prettybird Tue 14-Jun-16 13:45:22

Ds' school introduced an on-line booking system 2 years ago - so it's now in our control which teachers we book rather than ds' grin

We get 5 minute slots to choose from - but the computer doesn't allow you to book 2 consecutive 5 minutes, to ensure that you've got time to get from one appointment to another.

The main challenge (as others have mentioned) is that some parents/teachers overrun. I believe that they have considered ringing the school bell but decided that having it ring every 5 minutes would be excessive. Instead, leaflets (with the map of the school and where the different teachers are located) reminding people about the 5 minute appointments are given up and I think there are signs too. --just need to get the message through to some of the teachers--wink

The initial appointment letter (giving sign on details) and confirmation emails also reiterate that if you need more than 5 minutes, then the school should be contacted and a separate appointment made.

There are still problems with the "full year" subjects like English and Maths. They fill up very quickly.

I know that some schools use a system whereby the form teacher or pastoral care teacher gathers together all the info from the pupil's teachers and you just get to see that teacher. Really don't like the idea of that system hmm. The friend whose son is at one such school said the feedback was most unsatisfactory and unhelpful, exacerbated by the fact that the teacher didn't like her ds (who didn't like his subject but was doing well in other subjects) sad - yet this is one of the "best" schools in the Glasgow vicinity. confused

CrazyforCrochet Tue 14-Jun-16 13:49:08

Most mums here seem to have had a more positive experience than me... when I wrote to the Head she said that they have 95% attendance for parents eve, but I'm amazed that parents turned up as they only had appointments to see 2 or 3 teachers. Impressed also that some schools out there let you have lists of teachers emails, nothing like that at my DD's. I've passed on some suggestions to the school - the Head is leaving soon, so hopefully the new one will improve things.

littledrummergirl Tue 14-Jun-16 15:08:06

Ds1s school- all of the teachers are in the hall, he books a 5min slot and leaves a 5min gap before the next teacher. You sit near the teacher you want and nip in when there is a gap. If a few parents are waiting you go in appt order.

Ds2s school- teachers are spread through various classrooms and parents queue to see them. Although there maybe five teachers in a classroom and someone always starts the queue at the doorhmm meaning you can't see which teachers are free and if it's one you want. I'm very rude and enter the class encouraging others to follow my bad example grin The teachers like to stick to the order wherever possible.

Something I've discovered is that if th dc book late appointments the teachers will accommodate seeing you if there is a gap as it means they stand a chance of finishing earlier.

Some tips:
My dc are told which teachers I want to see and that if I don't have an appointment I will speak to them anyway and blame the dc for not booking.
Ds2 avoided booking me an appointment with a teacher I wanted to see, when I found them they said they had asked him to make an appointment as they wanted to speak to me.
Keep on top of your dc if they have to book the appointments, it's very easy for them to tell you they had gone-especially the ones they are not performing as well as you would expect.

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