Calling MN wisdom!!! Questions about year 7........

(17 Posts)
CheekyGirl Mon 29-Oct-12 21:57:47

Hi,
My dd started at the local comp in September. I have a few reservations but don't know whether I'm just being PFB! Could the MN collective wisdom tell me whether the following is generally accepted/normal:

-dd's tutor who is also her maths teacher (top set) admitted to me that he can't control the class (!). I had gone in to see him as dd told me she didn't enjoy maths anymore and they always had to work in silence. She couldn't ask for help as teacher always busy trying to control certain boys.

- looking in dd's exercise books, I can't say I'm impressed with her presentation. I have had words with her, but the teachers haven't commented as far as I can tell.

- they have started 2 MFL (French and Spanish) at the same time. Neither of these exercise books have been marked by the teacher. There is some 'peer marking' (incorrect!!)

- they are not doing a 'set text' in English yet (top set). Lots of peer marking apparant in exercise book.

- dd attached to her mobile phone on 'kick' and 'whatsapp'. She seems to receive a lot of 'chain mail' messages. They don't seem to upset her, but some seem quite alarming!

- We had a meeting with her tutor two weeks into term, but the first parents evening is not until Feb. No communication about progress or anything else at half term.

- An awful lot of the older girls seem to have dyed back combed hair, trowelled on make up etc. although the school rules state no make up etc. Dd aware of this and is asking whether school rules therefore "really matter"!

Please be gentle - I went to a tiny all girls secondary so all this is very new to me!!

Thank you!

Funnylittleturkishdelight Tue 30-Oct-12 05:08:13

Books or assessments should be done every 2-3 weeks. Does the school have a policy on this?

If her tutor seems flaky (can't control top set sevens??) then contact head of year- but only mention the essential concerns: lack of assessment and teacher marking in books. Presentation is important but not a priority and you don't want to distract from main issue.

What is HW like? What is the school size/student profile? Is it reflective of the area you live in?

NewFerry Tue 30-Oct-12 09:06:30

Hi Cheeky girl, it does sound as though there are some real concerns here. I would be particularly concerned about a teacher who is struggling to control a Y7 class and would take it up with the HoD.
In contrast, my DD (also Y7), all books marked regularly and feedback given. English - they have almost finished Private Peaceful, plus spent the first couple of weeks working on some creative poetry. (Mixed class as they are only set for Maths)
Makeup/extreme hairstyles - not allowed and enforced by all staff
Mobiles - in bag, switched off or on silent. If taken out of bag will be confiscated. I haven't heard of this rule being flouted so I guess it's being enforced too.

Sorry, I'm not sure if that's what you want to hear, but I think you are definitely not being PFBish, and I think I would be asking to talk to the Head of Year to discuss the concerns you raise.

bruffin Tue 30-Oct-12 09:08:00

D'Art first maths teacher had problem controlling class. I did write to HOY and they put in a more experienced teacher for one class a week and regularly sent in heads to make sure class was behaving. Dd got on very well with him in the end.
He was inexperienced, but is still there and teaches my ds for A level. Ds thinks he is a brilliant teacher.

CheekyGirl Tue 30-Oct-12 12:49:58

Thanks all who have replied so far! This is a small fairly rural secondary school with no sixth form - about 630 pupils. It's on a county border with a county that does the 11+ grammar school thing, so I think we get a fair few pupils who either fail the 11+ or whose parents don't want them to sit it.

I am concerned about going to the HoY re. the maths teacher as he is also her tutor so I am anxious to keep a good relationship going with him. He told me about his difficulties with the class in a kind of 'confidential' tone (I am probably old enough to be his mum - he's a NQT). Any ideas on how I could tackle this very much appreciated!

What should I do re. lack of text in English, lack of consistant marking across subjects etc.? Is it just something I need to 'suck up'?!

Thank you!!

Funnylittleturkishdelight Tue 30-Oct-12 15:41:20

Lack of text could just because that isn't the unit of work they study this term- perfectly normal. He may be studying poetry, a play, creative writing skills, English Language origins etc.

Do NOT suck up lack of marking- identify which subjects have had no assessment or book marking in the first 8 weeks and take it to the head of year. IME there is no harm in identifying a teacher with weak classroom management- it isn't his 'fault' as such if he is an NQT and if he is not telling his mentor, or if his mentor isn't taking serious steps to sort it out (lesson observations, supporting detentions, phone calls home, popping in to check on class etc) then he deserves that support and you may actually do him a MASSIVE favour.

Good luck!

bruffin Tue 30-Oct-12 15:55:22

As I said above about the may. I put it in a nice way and said I realised he was probably inexperienced etc but it was putting Dd off her favorite subject etc.
School was very proactive and gave him help.
The teacher is a maths genius type with doctorate, so a class of brand new year 7s who will take a mile if given an inch was probably a bit of a shock

bruffin Tue 30-Oct-12 15:57:20

NQT not may

CheekyGirl Tue 30-Oct-12 18:44:13

Thank you! I will certainly take up the lack of consistent marking with the HoY - I have his email address!

Funny - that's interesting about units of work, I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps they are just studying other things. I'll have a closer look at her books.

I think I may just be worrying too much overall. I want dd to have the best possible education! She's quite quiet and doesn't push herself forward iyswim. I'm worried she'll get lost in the crowd and miss out!

Funnylittleturkishdelight Tue 30-Oct-12 22:38:57

Have a look at the front of her book- should have some kind of indicator as to what she will study over the course of the year (if not- at least what she is studying now!) typically, in ever English dpt I've ever taught in, the first 2/3 weeks is a taster 'welcome to English' where we do a little of what we will study over the year (gets the learners excited about the different topics) and establish the expectations (rules of classroom, marking policies, active learning etc).

If you want to support outside the classroom, you could always ask the HOY to supply you with the year outline for English- then you can see what the book will be, buy suitable books from the reading list, be able to advise and help when HWs are set etc.

You sound like a great parent- very on the ball and your child will get more out of school because of it.

APMF Thu 01-Nov-12 22:46:26

If I was you I would be considering my options with regards to transferring my kid out of there if possible. I mean, it's not as if you are describing minor problems that can be fixed with a chat over a cup of tea.

BlissfullyIgnorant Fri 02-Nov-12 08:37:20

If you get on well with the teacher, would it not be possible for you to suggest HE ask the HoY for some help with the uncontrollable boys?
I loathe peer marking. It was used as a bullying tactic in DCs prep school - one boy marking DS's work deliberately marked things wrong on more than one occasion so I complained (nothing came of it...not even an apology and the real mark wasn't put in DS's records) it seems it was quite common for that to happen.
I complained about the general levels of peer marking (in my capacity as a class rep) and was told all peer marked work was still reviewed by teachers but I never saw any evidence of this - no mistakes corrected, no teacher comments, nothing. I felt really lied to as did many other parents. That is one complaint that does need to be taken forward IMO

freya86 Fri 02-Nov-12 19:18:08

I'm a secondary school teacher and I'd like to say that NQTs should generally speaking have good classroom management, quite patronising that some of you assume because he's an NQT he's not able to manage a classroom. I have worked in a state school where some year 7s have ASBOs or the like and I'd like to see some of you manage them. Some top set groups can be challenging because bright kids can get bored easily and this can pose behaviour management problems. I have seen teachers of 20 years plus struggle with year 7s, if anything new teachers are better equipped to deal with classroom management as this is an area of focus on during training.
As for the marking, that's serious. Take it to one of the assistant heads, there will be one responsible for marking, assessment and progress. Head of year is unlikely to do much with your information in all honesty and you're best going higher. Do it in a nice but firm way and you'll get the best results.

DieDeutschLehrerin Fri 02-Nov-12 19:31:06

I've recently finished as HoD for MFL to become a SAHM. WRT MFL marking, peer marking is v.common as encouraged by the powers that be as it supposed to show evidence of pupils' awareness and understanding of current working levels and how to progress to the next level. IME it needs a lot of scaffolding by the teacher and books should be checked, and I would expect to see at least a tick and a brief comment.
However, the nature of MFL subjects, especially in term 1 & 2 of Y7 means a lot of work so far will have been Verbal, as will corrections and feedback, so there may not be a lot to see in her books. This does not, of course, mean that written mistakes should go without correction. I would speak to her teachers as a first point of call and if you are still concerned speak to the HoY or HoD and ask about the dept.'s assessment policy.
WRT the gaps between parents' evenings, schools seem to vary a lot on this. Your situation was more common but schools often report more frequently now as communication with parents is a focus for Ofsted. In your situation I would speak to the HoY and ask him/her to send a round robin out to your Dd's teachers asking for a brief comment on progress, engagement, effort & participation and to ring you back in a week with the feedback.
WRT to the maths teacher, ask the HoY to speak to the HoD for Maths. It doesn't sound as if they are supporting the NQT adequately. You could just say that you've spoken to him but that he seemed quite concerned and wondered if the school had support strategies for NQTs to improve the situation for your DD and her teacher.

It doesn't sound like the behaviour policy is being adequately enforced but it's always worth reinforcing the fact that it doesn't matter what others do, your expectation of her is that she follows the rules. We used to drum this into our year group. I would imagine the majority of her teachers will be enforcing the behaviour policy, sadly it needs everyone, from the bottom to the top, to make it work well.
Hope that helps.

Madmog Fri 02-Nov-12 19:51:46

The only subject that hasn't had some level of marking is science and funnily enough this is the one subject my daugher feels she hasn't done very well with (will see how she does with a test next week and then have a word). Where it has been marked we are getting a mark for work, effort mark and some are giving the level relating to SATs they are on as well. We are getting far more info than in primary school and my daugther understands the different marking systems various tutors have.

Giving the tutor the benefit of the doubt, it might be that there are a few strong characters in the classroom that unfortunately take his time, although usually in the top set you could expect them to be better behaved and concentrate better (my daughter is in the top sets and this certainly seems to be the case for the others I know are with her). If your daughter feels this is continuing, it might be worth having a word with him again and if you are still unhappy take it higher up. Working in silence might just mean that he wants them all to be quiet and concentrate especially if he's trying to keep control of whats happening with a few in the class. My daughter is a chatterbox and she has to sit in front of the teacher, but it has been done in a nice fun way from what I can gather (she is even allowed a friend to sit next to her in french even though she's been moved).

Regarding presentation I would like to see my daughter do better, but her school are making minor suggestions for improvement but nothing too heavy. I think they are letting them settle in.

My daughter' school is very clear on how they should turn out, detailed in the welcome brochure and online. They are issued which a uniform card which they must carry with them at all times and it gets marked if they are not turned out correctly. After 3 marks they get detention that night even if they have something else on. Might sound harsh, but we were told this before they started and they arrive looking tidy. Even have clip on ties (which personally I don't like) so there's no excuse not to have this presented correctly. They know where they stand about make, hair colour, ie not acceptable!

Fingers crossed, things will come together more in your daughter's second half term.

BoffinMum Sat 03-Nov-12 09:47:54

Lots of red warming bells in my view. I would pull my child out of a school where books aren't marked properly, where there is no formative assessment, where kids flout uniform rules and where staff aren't properly supported with disciplining challenging classes. Sounds like it has a very weak head and a staff stretched too thin.

BoffinMum Sat 03-Nov-12 09:48:56

PM me and I will check it out a bit more, if you like.

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