Do I have a legal right to see teachers at parents' evening?

(80 Posts)
spababe Tue 20-Nov-12 14:21:03

The school has a computerised booking system and DS handed me a letter late and all the slots for some teachers had gone I emailed the school but they have just said the teachers I can't get slots with will email me. I think if there are more parents requesting slots than there are slots they should stay later or put on a second evening to create more slots. I have tried phoning the head of year (twice) and she never returns my calls.

Phone the head. It's unprofessional not to return your calls.

madwomanintheattic Tue 20-Nov-12 15:46:28

Well, they will email you. And set up an alternative time. You've been told that.

Why are you harassing the ht?

Storm in a tea cup.

Get a grip of ds and tell him to give you the letter when he gets it next time. Or ask learning support to set up a coping strategy for him if he has sn which mean this scenario is unlikely.

Contact the teachers you want to speak to, and make an appointment. I have no idea what you think you are going to achieve by moaning to the ht - he or she will only email the teachers concerned and remind them to get in contact with you, so you are introducing an inherent weakness and delay in the communication chain.

Legal. Hah.

radicalsubstitution Tue 20-Nov-12 16:05:09

You have a right to communication from teachers/school informing you of your child's progress. You do not have any 'right' to a consultation evening appointment.

I don't know the situation at your school. At ours, consultation evenings run from 6:00 pm until 9:30 pm. Sandwiched in between what can be two full teaching days, this is quite long enough.

Parents have a right to expect that teachers will be positive, constructive and, most of all, coherent during consultations. We are expected to be able to summarise, in five minute bursts, strengths, areas for development, current attainment, likely attainment etc, plus answering any other questions. This is hard enough to sustain after 3.5 hours, without it being added to.

In our school, teachers are asked to telephone or email parents if there are not enough slots available. Scheduling in an additional consultation evening would not be considered for a whole host of reasons.

twoterrors Tue 20-Nov-12 16:06:37

I am usually quite, erm, tough on teachers. But get a grip.

Have you ever had the last appointment at parents' evening? Wild eyed staff, maddened with exhaustion and thirst, who have been going for 12 hours, with more to come? Not that helpful always, IMO, despite impressive stamina and charisma on the part of the teachers. And plenty long enough. And there are plenty of late nights throughout the year for staff without a second one for each year group.

You'll get a much more considered view in an email, and can follow up with the teachers concerned if there are any questions. If there really is a problem with slots for core subjects for lots of children, then maybe raise it casually with whichever SMT member is lurking at parents' evening to deal with problems. If the booking system is computerised, perhaps they could email the letter with the appropriate link, rather than sending it by the notorious child mail?

radicalsubstitution Tue 20-Nov-12 16:09:27

Thank you twoterrors - your second paragraph summarised very nicely!

spababe Tue 20-Nov-12 16:12:19

So some parents can see the teachers and some cannot and you all think that is fair? They have offered to email me for the teachers I can't see but is that a 2 way discussion? No emails in the last week btw! It's only once a year for the teachers so I think they should stay late and be prepared to see all the parents that want to see them.
The home school agreement says they will update parents on progress and separately says they will be open and welcoming.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 20-Nov-12 16:13:16

Everything twoterrors said. And tell your ds to give you notes on time in future!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 20-Nov-12 16:15:14

They do stay late: they stay for hours and hours, the poor sods! I imagine they will email you after the parents evening.

Schools know not everyone wants to see every teacher: for example, I've never been to see PE or art.... So they don't create slots for each teacher to see each child, I would think.

NatashaBee Tue 20-Nov-12 16:17:34

I think it's your son you should be getting annoyed with, he was the one who gave you the letter late. I would let the teachers email you and then follow up by phone with any that mention any concerns which you want to discuss in more detail - and if you don't get a response to any of those concerns, THEN you would be justified in complaining.

fengirl1 Tue 20-Nov-12 16:19:19

'Once a year'.... for each year group, plus Open Evenings, Concerts, Award Evenings.....................

spababe Tue 20-Nov-12 16:21:02

he was one day late with the letter then they had technical problems with the booking system meaning some parents could book and others could not so not all his fault

Lots of teachers on here today wink
My comment about ringing the head was flippant, but it really annoys me how bad schools can be at communicating with parents. Failing to return a call is at best poor practice and at worst downright rude.
I also think that seeing the teacher once a year is not too much to ask. And if the poor lambs find it too tiring all in one night they should hold more than one session.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 20-Nov-12 16:44:13

Drip drip.

So the issue is really some problems with the computer system?

noblegiraffe Tue 20-Nov-12 16:47:45

If you want a 2 way discussion then you could always reply to the email from the teacher.
Or ask them to phone you?

Computerised booking sounds shit. As does a parents evening where every slot is filled. Poor teachers.

socharlotte Tue 20-Nov-12 16:50:06

I think it's your son you should be getting annoyed with, he was the one who gave you the letter late

You surely don't expect to see EVERY teacher do you? Often a teacher might teach 2 or 3 forms within the same year that could be up to 90 sets of parents!!

spababe Tue 20-Nov-12 17:08:38

Why wouldn't I expect to see every teacher?
Also if email is so fantastic why do they hold parents' evenings? Maybe the teachers could phone or email all the parents instead?? (I don't think so!)

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 20-Nov-12 17:11:55

Phoning and emailing wouldnt work if you had to do it for each parent, because you'd have to give each teacher a dedicated work station with either a pc or a phone. They will usually do phone calls or emails to be helpful, though: but I assume could not sit down and ring up every parent, though one parent who has asked for and is expecting the call would be different.

Do you want to see every subject? All the arty ones and PE and everything? Ive never known anybody do that (am a parent, not a teacher).

LeeCoakley Tue 20-Nov-12 17:20:53

Legal right grin. Yeah, get a solicitor onto it. Parents' Evening would become Parents' Evening, Night and Dawn the Next Day if every parent saw every teacher. Ok, it would be nice (I suppose) to see each teacher but not logistically possible. Some of ours say don't book me unless you have a problem. They are always available to email which I think is fair enough.

ravenAK Tue 20-Nov-12 17:21:17

Teachers are contracted to do one Parents' Evening per year per year group, for a designated number of hours.

If I taught your child & he/she wasn't making progress, I would already have emailed you to make sure you had an appointment, tbh.

Computerised booking system sounds fab. I usually get kids brandishing dog-eared bits of paper at me. In fact, most recent letter from dds' school doesn't actually indicate which dd it applies to...

spababe Tue 20-Nov-12 17:39:03

The crux of the matter is not the booking system or the letters. The crux of the matter is that there are more parents requesting to see teachers than the teachers are prepared to see. I'm shocked that posters here are effectively saying 'well I've seen x sets of parents so job done' even though parents are left empty handed.
Surely teachers should be pleased parents are interested in the education of their offspring and trying to find out how to support the learning?

noblegiraffe Tue 20-Nov-12 17:43:45

Some teachers will teach 100 kids in a year group. It would be impossible to see all of them in the time allocated, and it would be unfair (and difficult given contracted hours to work) to expect those teachers to work extra evenings over those who only teach 30 in a year group.

I didn't realise that some parents are so desperate to see my face that a phone call simply wouldn't do.

balia Tue 20-Nov-12 17:56:15

I'm not sure you are coming over as massively supportive to be honest...

But concentrating on the issue at hand - if you haven't been able to see the teachers you wish to see, surely a polite letter asking for an alternative time for that teacher would be the way to go? I've seen parents on different dates to the parents evening, on another year group's parents evenings, at lunchtimes - whatever we can fit in. And if you have concerns about your DS I'm sure they will make it a priority.

If the school find, through their new system, that there are regularly more parents wanting appointments than can be managed, they may look at ways to deal with that - I know a school that closes at lunch so their parents 'evening' can run for longer. How long are the slots you get to book?

LeeCoakley Tue 20-Nov-12 17:58:30

Well, it's like this. If my child comes home and says noblegiraffe is always mean and nasty then if I have met you face to face I can either say 'I don't believe you, she's lovely' or 'Yes, I agree, she's a right witch'. grin

noblegiraffe Tue 20-Nov-12 18:06:41

I can be lovely on the phone too!

I'd have thought a phone call would be better that a parents evening slot anyway as I wouldn't be so mindful of the time. Or quite so harrassed.

I don't think there is a legal requirement to hold a parents evening with subject teachers anyway, as I think some schools have switched to tutor appointments only.

abbierhodes Tue 20-Nov-12 18:08:04

The 'it's only once a year' comment makes me cross. Are people really so arrogant and self absorbed that they forget there are other year groups?

If you count all 5 year groups, plus 6th form, plus year 7 'settling in' consultations, year 6 transition evening, 3 commendation evenings, open evening, careers evening and a 6th form presentation evening, that's 14 evenings in a year that an average teacher won't finish work before 8.30ish. This does not take into account those teachers who are involved in sports, music concerts, drama productions etc. It doesn't count revision classes(often in the holidays) or after school clubs. Trips to the theatre, university trips, charity events.

OP, I'm sure any teacher would be happy to speak to you on the phone or meet you on another day if you feel the need. But expecting them to put on a whole other evening just for you is ludicrous!

BackforGood Tue 20-Nov-12 18:12:34

Excellent post by twoterrors.
It is a bit frustrating when you first get to secondary, and your child has moved from an environment when you see the class teacher and everyone is known to you to a big new place where you don't know any of the teachers' faces, and you feel a bit 'lost' in terms of knowing what's going on - I remember it well. However as others have pointed out, it's a logistical nightmare. There are only so many hours in the day. I know when dd started and the English teacher taught more Yr7s than there were slots, she made it clear to all the girls that she would prioritise who she saw, and if you weren't prioritised, then you were doing very well and she wasn't at all concerned about your attainment, effort, behaviour or anything. I thought - fair enough! - although would like to have been able to put a face to her name, I thought that was a sensible way of dealing with th problem.
I also put it to the school, that maybe it could be something taken into account when allocating classes on the timetable, that almost all parents of Yr7s are likely to want to see at least the teachers of the core subjects, so, where possible (and I know there might be reasons when it's not) the school should look at not giving one teacher more than 2 sets in any one year group - particularly Yr7.
The whole "legal right" and "Phone the HT" stuff is just going to alienate the school, when you would do your dc a lot more good, by working with them.
If you have any concerns then phone or e-mail that subject teacher, don't wait until parents evening, and, if they have concerns, then I'm sure they will contact you too.

HellothisisJoanie Tue 20-Nov-12 18:14:30

try going in another day - youd get better service anyway tbh

HellothisisJoanie Tue 20-Nov-12 18:15:20

parents evening IMO are hte biggest waste of a teachers time.

so inefficient - pointless - what has EVER changed long term from a parent's evening?

AViewfromtheFridge Tue 20-Nov-12 18:17:37

I know this isn't AIBU, but clearly you have decided the school are in the wrong and you are in the right, as you are not listening to or taking on perfectly valid points made by others.

Twoterrors, your second paragraph is absolutely bob on, really made me laugh. I always feel so sorry for whoever has the misfortune to see me last - the conversation goes something like this:

Me: So. I'm pleased with the progress she's making, although attendance continues to be a concern.
Parent: But she's only had one day off! That was last year!
Me: Ah. Yes. Sorry about that! So... I'm pleased with the progress she's making! Keep it up! Bye!
<Slinks off chair onto floor and lies in a heap, gently trembling>

HellothisisJoanie Tue 20-Nov-12 18:18:44

If i had an issue I would ring school and ask to speak to xyz

also why wont a phone call suffice?

stargirl1701 Tue 20-Nov-12 18:19:44

It's def not once a year for secondary teachers. They have 6 year groups (in Scotland) so that is at least 12 parent contact evenings if they see each year group once.

In this regard, it is def easier to be a primary teacher.

It seems your dc is to blame here. He failed to inform you in a timely fashion. I would address that first then use the email contact you have been offered. Next year make sure your dc understands the importance you place on face-to-face contact.

noblegiraffe Tue 20-Nov-12 18:23:39

I wonder if OP's DS is in Y7. Y7 parents evening is always full of parents who sit down like they're ready for a nice long cosy chat and are then rather bewildered when they have information rapidly barked at them, a brief 'any questions?' and they're stood up and being moved on quite before they quite know what has happened.

radicalsubstitution Tue 20-Nov-12 18:28:58

I actually quite like parents' evenings.

About 1 in 5 parents actually takes the time to say 'thank you for all your work with X - they like your subject'.

Most parental contact in secondary is about what we haven't done, so the odd nice word makes it all seem worthwhile.

Saying that, they do just about kill me. As does sitting at the bus stop at 9:45 on a cold February evening waiting for the bus home and knowing I've got a full teaching load the next day...

ravenAK Tue 20-Nov-12 18:30:23

I find the hardest thing is getting up the next day after I've treated my post Parents' Evening dehydration with a bottle of wine.

redandwhitesprinkles Tue 20-Nov-12 18:34:19

I teach 5 classes in one year group- 150 kids. Ten minutes each means 25 hours (except they never run to time). We start at 4.30, if you got your way I would be there until 5.30 the following day. Please be realistic. Email is a two way conversation if you respond to what the teacher sends you. Or if you have an issue then contact that teacher. You will get a much better response than during a 10 min rush job after I have taught a full day anyway!

AViewfromtheFridge Tue 20-Nov-12 19:54:01

You asked about having a "legal right" to an appointment - as far as I understand it, schools have to provide a written report once a year, and an opportunity for parents to discuss it. That's it.

Link here

ravenAK Tue 20-Nov-12 20:13:20

With 'a' teacher, I believe - so not even the subject teacher - could in theory just be a general conversation with the form tutor.

I don't know of any school that doesn't provide subject appointments, though.

I'm quite often fully booked (English) & as BackforGood said upthread, if I have more than one teaching group in that year I'll tell the kids to tell parents: book to see me if you need a quick overview/update.

If dc is on target, good effort grades & happy with my teaching, don't feel you have to book at all. If you want a proper, in depth discussion - email me & we'll arrange a separate meeting when I will have a sensible amount of time to talk!

spababe Tue 20-Nov-12 20:53:07

* if you haven't been able to see the teachers you wish to see, surely a polite letter asking for an alternative time for that teacher would be the way to go *

If it was just one teacher appointment I was missing then that might be the route to go but out of 10 teachers I want to see, I only have appointments for 4. Added to which the school is a 20 min drive away so potentially 6 round trips of an hour each time which I don't think is reasonable when I could do it all in one evening.

One of the advantages of a face to face meeting is that DH, DS and I can all see the teacher at the same time as a 4 way meeting. Much harder to do that on the phone.

noblegiraffe Tue 20-Nov-12 20:57:25

Why are you that desperate to see ten teachers? Have you got major concerns across the board or think that they're going to tell you something vitally important or that you don't already know?

cricketballs Tue 20-Nov-12 21:12:36

as others have said, in particular redandwhitesprinkles it can be physically impossible for a teacher to see every parent of every student they teach in a particular year group. For example, I only teach one year 7 group, so their parents evening is gong to be fine, but I teach 6 year 11 groups and therefore impossible for me to see every parent during parents evening. If there is an issue, then I contact the parents myself without waiting for parents evening and hold meetings in my own time to discuss issues, but to demand a meeting at parents evening is just not possible at secondary due to the amount of students we teach

MsElleTow Tue 20-Nov-12 21:24:24

It's DS1's (yr13) parents' evening tomorrow night. I'm not going, I'm having emails sent, I don't know why I never thought of doing that before. I know he is on track because he tells me the marks he gets in his essays etc, and we talk about what he has done in school that day.

In all the time my DC have been in secondary school (DS2 is in Yr11) I have never seen all their teachers. Quite often the teacher would say they didn't need to see me( Not now so much as DS2 is in his GCSE year) and I was always relieved TBH that my DC didn't have any problems and left the appointments free for those parents whose DC needed them.

You honestly can not expect to see all of the teachers every parents evening!

ravenAK Tue 20-Nov-12 21:27:24

Tbh, parents' evening is probably the least valuable communication I have with parents (as a teacher) or school (as a parent).

I find it much more effective to discuss issues by email & arrange proper meetings where it's needed.

Hulababy Tue 20-Nov-12 21:30:46

No it isn't a legal right to see every teacher your child has.
It is a legal requirement too have communication between school and home I believe. This is very different.

Do you really need to see every teacher?

When I was teaching one of my subjects was ICT. I taught over 300 children each week. How would I possibly manage to see every single one of those parents?

BTW it isn't once a year generally. When I was teaching I used to have between 8-10 parents evenings a year.

Hulababy Tue 20-Nov-12 21:33:27

It has to be two way spababe. It isn't possible for every teacher to see every parent - logistically it cant happen.

If you really want to see all these teachers then you need to arrange additional appointments individually with each teacher at a mutually convenient time. If that means that for an additional 3 or 4 evenings a year you need to go to school for a meeting then so be it. It depends if it is really that important to you I guess.

You have to remember that some teachers are teaching an awful lot of children - not just your own.

spababe Tue 20-Nov-12 21:36:54

so the teachers here are saying they are only interested in seeing parents where the children are struggling?
Why not explain how you are stretching the bright kids - every child matters remember!
'Once a year' of course not for the teachers but think of it from the parents point of view.
Of course I don't want teachers there until 10pm and then teaching the next day but believe me, the school has organised things so that it all finishes in what would be considered normal office hours.

Bosgrove Tue 20-Nov-12 21:37:15

I wish it was only one evening a year.

I am married to a secondary school teacher, he has parents evenings for each year group on separate days at least twice a year. Senior staff meetings every Tuesday when he doesn't get home until at least 7pm normally later, open evenings for the new intake for year 7 and year 12. Teaching Saturday mornings for the gifted and talented programme, school trips during the school holidays, presentation evenings for GCSE certificates and a separate one for A level certificates, chaperoning the proms and being in school to give out the exam results so the pupils can pick them up during the holidays, and don't get me started on the interviews for new pupils and the many evening spent writing references for uni and school reports and lots of other things that he might get called on to do. (he still writes references for jobs years after they leave the school)

We have kids who would like to see their Dad sometimes, but as we all know teachers don't work hard, and get so much holiday - they can work late another evening after all it is just one more evening.

The school has said that they will contact you - they will contact you, and you will probably get more information than you would get on the open evening.

squeezedatbothends Tue 20-Nov-12 21:40:00

Spababe, I used to get frustrated with schools too until I became a teacher myself. My god. I haven't yet had a week where I've worked less than 60 hours. I'm in school from 7 am until 6.30 pm every day then take work home. There are 14 parents evenings per year, two open evenings, presentation evening, year 6 intake evening, year 7 settling evening, concerts, plays, fund raisers and charity think it through. If you can't get an appointment on PE then call the school and leave messages for the individual teachers you want to speak to. When they get a spare minute, they'll call you back and you can have your two way conversation.

Hulababy Tue 20-Nov-12 21:42:44

What hours are parents evening then?

I never got away from parent's evening before 9pm - often later. Even at the infants I now work at teacher's don't get to go home til 7:30 - and they see less children and do it over 2 evenings.

noblegiraffe Tue 20-Nov-12 21:43:26

Spababe, you're stropping like the school has refused you any contact with the teachers at all. Do you seriously need a face to face meeting to ask a teacher how they are stretching the brightest? Actually, I'll tell you, the answer is no. That can be dealt with perfectly well over the phone or via email.

Celticlassie Tue 20-Nov-12 21:44:12

Why do you have to see them all? Do you not have written reports? Is your son having problems?

Hulababy Tue 20-Nov-12 21:45:12

spababe - is this your DS's first year in secondary school by any chance?

ravenAK Tue 20-Nov-12 21:57:23

Struggling =/= not bright! At all.

Student A is in bottom set year 9 & doing fantastically. I don't need to see his mum, but she wants to see me, & it's lovely that I can chat to both of them about his progress, especially as A is really lacking in confidence.

Student B is in top set year 10 & currently getting Bs in his Controlled Assessment. His target is A & having taught him in years 7 & 9, I reckon he's perfectly capable of an A*, were he not such a lazy little git.

So I've emailed his dad & arranged an appointment (B has 'lost' his form - he knows perfectly well it won't be anything he wants his parents to hear!).

Student C in year 11 is absolutely fine, parents have been coming to Parents' Evenings for years, they know perfectly well I'll be in touch if there's a problem. They also know I teach two year 11 groups. So they've wisely opted not to queue up to see me for half an hour for me to spend 2 1/2 minutes croaking at them 'Yes, it's all good. NEXT!'

lurcherlover Tue 20-Nov-12 22:03:58

I wish my parents' eves were in "office hours"! I am secondary and they never finish before 8pm. Bearing in mind I get in school for 8am, usually have a revision class or coursework catch-up in lunchtime and then after school, that's a twelve-hour day. I work in a school with a 6th form, so there are 7 parents' eves a year. Then add on Year 7 open evening, 6th form open eve, year 10 induction eve, productions, theatre trips, Speech Night...I wish it was only "one night a year"! I am not moaning as it's the reality of the job - all I ask is that the reality is understood and not the myth!

OP: I am in very regular contact by phone/email with a lot of parents of pupils I teach. I suggest you take some initiative and phone the teachers concerned, rather than getting all huffy about your legal rights.

TheWave Tue 20-Nov-12 22:27:48

I love parents' evenings at secondary school and think they are a great opportunity to praise teachers (see radicalsubstitution above) and share issues from my/my child's side even briefly.

I always try to see as many teachers as possible, including the more "peripheral" subjects such as PE, art etc even when my child might not do for GCSE or A level, and see this as supporting their work with my children and valuing their subject.

Also I sometimes pass by when I haven't got an appointment and if the teacher is free ask if I can say hello I'm Wavelet's mum.

EvilTwins Tue 20-Nov-12 22:41:37

I teach the whole of Yr 8. If I was to see everyone's parents it would take a ridiculous amount of time. Our parents evenings run from 4-7.30, and since I teach all year groups, that's 7 each year. I do find them useful, and yes, it's unfortunate if parents can't get an appointment but it's not the end of the world. If parents can't make it, or if they didn't get round to seeing me, then I will always try another form of communication.

twoterrors Tue 20-Nov-12 23:44:57

Do the people who are up in arms about this find these evenings that useful? If I couldn't see one or two key subject teachers, I'd be perfectly happy with an email exchange, or phone call, and if there really were problems an appointment at some convenient time. But problems don't tend to wait for the annual parents' evening anyway - aren't they more for routine comments and so that you have eyeballed some of the staff and got a sense of what is going on and of the feeling of the place? I hate it when teachers raise something important and unexpected when you know you've got 3.5 minites left, are boiling and need the loo.

I expect proper reports with detailed comments about each subject, I expect the school or teachers to respond promptly to phone calls, I expect staff to talk to each other to help resolve any issues, I expect work to be marked promptly and in detail. I am hard core.

And, forgive me teachers, after meeting 12 of you in five minute slots, I can't remember who is who. And I am sure you can't either.

Parent's evenings are something we all expect, and they have a place. But they are not the only way to communicate with the school.

twoterrors Tue 20-Nov-12 23:56:42

Do the people who are up in arms about this find these evenings that useful? If I couldn't see one or two key subject teachers, I'd be perfectly happy with an email exchange, or phone call, and if there really were problems an appointment at some convenient time. But problems don't tend to wait for the annual parents' evening anyway - aren't they more for routine comments and so that you have eyeballed some of the staff and got a sense of what is going on and of the feeling of the place? I hate it when teachers raise something important and unexpected when you know you've got 3.5 minites left, are boiling and need the loo.

I expect proper reports with detailed comments about each subject, I expect the school or teachers to respond promptly to phone calls, I expect staff to talk to each other to help resolve any issues, I expect work to be marked promptly and in detail. I am hard core.

And, forgive me teachers, after meeting 12 of you in five minute slots, I can't remember who is who. And I am sure you can't either.

Parent's evenings are something we all expect, and they have a place. But they are not the only way to communicate with the school.

twoterrors Tue 20-Nov-12 23:57:48

Oops sorry for double posting and misplaced apostrophes.

sashh Wed 21-Nov-12 07:31:43

Most classes have about 30 pupils. A 15 minute slot for each child (and some parents both want to talk to the teacher but not at the same time) is 7.5 hours. SO starting at 6pm and going on until 1.30am yes that's really going to help. Would you really want a 1am appointment?

If the school is Y7-Y13 that would be 52.5 hours.

Do you really expect teachers to work another week and a half because your child didn't bring home the letter?

cory Wed 21-Nov-12 08:25:26

If I had the kind of problems that means that I needed to see all 10 teachers- and tbh with dd's health problems it's not far off, then I'd ask to arrange a separate meeting with the head of learning instead.

Also, your child is now in secondary: isn't it time he took some responsibility for how he is being stretched?

BarbecuedBillygoats Wed 21-Nov-12 08:33:24

At my dds primary school they put the slots on a white board outside the classroom.
Which is fine except my dd is taxied in by the council. And then I get a snotty message saying why haven't I booked. So I phone up and the only time they'll have is when my dss finish their school

twoterrors Wed 21-Nov-12 08:37:34

OP, parents' evenings are not the best forum for explaining how the school stretches or supports different groups. Every teacher would have to repeat the same information hundreds of times a year, provoking a public health crisis as laryngitis sweeps through the nation's teachers.

If you don't feel you know enough about how the school does this - or anything else - to support, or engage with, your child's education, then do ask the school. Or ask on here first for what normal practice would be. But this information is often on schools' websites or documentation.

If you think your child is not sufficiently challenged in one or more areas, then proceed with caution - but again a five minute slot in a busy hall is not the best way to do this necessarily.

socharlotte Wed 21-Nov-12 09:38:42

Sashh-In fairness to the OP if there are fewer slots than pupils, it really doesn't make any difference that he brought the letter home late.*some*body has to be disappointed

noblegiraffe Wed 21-Nov-12 09:50:29

That's why a computerised booking system is rubbish. At my school the kids make appointments directly with me. If I know I have more kids than slots I can say that if you got 'excellent' on your report then please only make an appointment if your parents really want to see me (some just make appointments automatically), and make the ones whose parents I want to see make appointments before they are all gone.

If I've got fewer students than slots (e.g. If I'm teaching bottom set) then I just pass my schedule around the room for them to fill in.

Bunbaker Wed 21-Nov-12 09:52:38

radicalsubstitution I will remember your comments when I go to DD's parents evening next week. Luckily it is on a day when I am not at work and have managed to get some of the first appointments. Her maths teacher said that he didn't need to see most of the parents of pupils in her class as they are making the right kind of progress (she is in the top set - year 8).

I wanted to see him:
a) to thank him for being approachable enough that DD can ask questions if she doesn't understand anything (DD is terribly shy and won't go up to most teachers)
b) To ask him to set more homework - IMO they don't get enough
c) To discuss why the class is so noisy (DD says she misses some of what the teacher says because the other kids are talking) - not sure how to approach this

Please could any teachers on here let me know if these are reasonable topics to discuss and how to approach topic c.

Mathsdidi Wed 21-Nov-12 10:07:22

The last parents' evening I did I spoke to 50 sets of parents in 3 hours (it's only supposed to be 2 hours but I started early and finished late in order to fit more appointments in). That gave them an average of 3.6 minutes each and I still had 10 sets of parents who were 'disappointed' or happy not to see me. Those parents all got an email, outlining how their child is doing. The emails were probably more informative than the 3 minute meetings I had on the actual evening. That was just with 2 classes in that yeargroup so I couldn't possibly see everyone in 3 or more classes per year. I would be happy to email parents though and am always happy for the emails to be a two way communication.

noblegiraffe Wed 21-Nov-12 10:28:44

Bunbaker, when you say DD doesn't get enough homework do you mean she does it quickly or that you want it more often? If it's taking DD less than 20/30 mins to complete then it would be reasonable to ask for more challenging homework (simply 'more homework' is pointless because if they can do it, then doing another 20 questions is simply keeping them busy). If you want it more often then that's usually not down to the teacher as the school will probably have a homework timetable. If she does it quickly, then point this out and ask for extension problems or what DD could do herself to extend her maths independently (e.g. use the nrich website). With a top set and very bright kids, the independent stretching is a good option as sometimes you simply can't set them homework that some won't do easily while others struggle.

Re the noise, say that you appreciate that sometimes classrooms can be noisy but in this case there's a problem as your DD can't hear. Can she please move to the front and the teacher be aware that sometimes students can't hear him over the noise and deal with this appropriately.

alreadytaken Wed 21-Nov-12 12:02:59

interesting - I used to think parents evenings were a total waste of time and would have been happy for any excuse not to turn up. Then I realised that very occasionally a teacher would actually tell me something face to face that they weren't allowed to put in their written report, since that was always positive. So then I started to ask to see all the teachers.

Sometimes I also wanted to say to their teacher dc could do a lot better if they were putting some work in. You may be happy because their achievement is average but I'd like to see more expected from them. Naturally teachers always believe they spot this already, they don't.

madwomanintheattic Wed 21-Nov-12 16:30:19

Last year ds1's parent teacher interview took an hour and a half. And the teacher cried.


I'm not going this year. <that's actually half true - I've been in twice already for separately scheduled meetings and I sent dh to the parent teacher one>

I have dd1's tomorrow. I looked at the list of ten teachers, chortled a bit, then booked three. I'm all in favour of enrichment and broadening horizons and whatnot, but I'm struggling to see why I need to meet up with construction or art. <saves thread for ten years time when dd1 is world renowned artist>

I figure maths, English and science ought to be enough to show where my totally skewed priorities lie. blush I'm only going to ask for extension stuff. grin

cumbrialass Wed 21-Nov-12 21:22:57

My son was always really bad/devious when arranging appointments for parents evening, so much so that I always had the appointments with the teachers no-one else really wanted ( ie could be bothered!) to see-PE, RE, Escape Skills ( never did work out what that was!) The look of gratitude as I turned up was comical, most had been sitting there all evening with nothing to do whilst the English/maths/science teachers could hardly draw breath!
Secondary school is not primary, assume everything is fine unless your child comes home with a "You must make an appointment to see Mrs XXXX" note, then you can worry!

sashh Thu 22-Nov-12 05:21:11


I do realise that, I truly do. But there is only so much time in an evening and that is what dictates the slots, not pupil numbers.

Dd came home with her appointment card yesterday.

Parents evening is 4-7pm. I cannot get there til 6:20 because of work.
So I am seeing french, english, maths and science.

That's good enough for me, I can't expect 11 teachers to stay til 9pm so I can see them.

twoterrors Thu 22-Nov-12 07:58:22

Cumbrialass, "Escape Skills"?

Oh joy, oh boundless joy. Today is going to be a good day.

Perhaps they could run seminars on Escape Skills for teachers and parents at the start of every parents' evening? With a small prize, waiting at the nearest pub, for the one to implement them fastest and most unobtrusively....

Bunbaker Thu 22-Nov-12 12:05:51

Thanks for your comments noblegiraffe. DD doesn't get maths homework often enough - once a week if we are lucky. She doesn't do it quickly because she isn't a natural at maths. I read somewhere that children who do maths homework little and often do better than those that don't, so at the moment I ask her to do some exercises from the My Maths website. She does them under protest, so I thought I would ask the teacher to tell DD to do them instead as she is far more likely to do what the teacher says than what I say (when it comes to schoolwork anyway)

alreadytaken Sat 24-Nov-12 09:28:26

I have a parents evening coming up. This thread prompted me to think "must I go"........ then I discovered I'd agreed to it in the home school agreement. Oh well - I want to thank one, possibly with a bottle of wine, so I guess he'll be happy to see me.

Celticlassie Sat 24-Nov-12 11:37:11

Bunbaker, Can you get her to do it a bit at a time, rather than all in one go, or is there not even enough for that? I only really give weekly homework to my first years (11 - 12yo) as I find it a lot easier to organise if I get it in on the same day every week, but I always tell them to do it early and check it over for mistakes a couple of days later to learn to pick up their own mistakes.

Bunbaker Sat 24-Nov-12 13:08:31

I have just checked in DD's planner. she should get 10 minutes per hour taught so that means she should get 30 minutes maths homework a week - which is probably once a week. She found today's homework easy and did it in 15 minutes - and got it all right.

spababe Fri 30-Nov-12 16:03:42

I did go and I did see all the teachers in the end. Some of them I didn't have appointments for but waited until they were free and no other parents seemed to be waiting and politely asked.
Despite having no 'issues' to discuss (and I really don't think parents evening should be all about problems!) I found out some interesting information about setting in Maths which explained things to me, My DC had an invitation to a closed club only for g&t in a subject, I was able to put some faces to names, teachers told me the same thing across different subjects so I know where improvements can be made. I was very conscious not to take more than my fair share of time with each teacher bearing in mind what all the teachers had written on here. The whole thing was over for parents and teachers by 6pm
Also, just to say, quite a few other parents were complaining about lack of availability of appointments.

ByTheWay1 Fri 30-Nov-12 16:25:33

Our school does it a bit differently - the mentor group tutor arranges to see every parent - at a time which is convenient to both him and us during the month before parents evening - and will set up meetings for any teachers who want to meet the parent or parents who want to meet specific teachers.

It was an absolute joy - if we want to we can see individual teachers, but we felt no need after a summary by the tutor.

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