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.


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>

ohfunnyface Mon 26-Nov-12 20:16:00

Why are your kids going to the medical room so often??

I sympathise- the food thing spill instructions sounds stupid. However- surely not personally directed at you?

Detentions over minor infractions sounds over the top- is this a weekly issue? Is it in every subject or just one teacher?

goralka Mon 26-Nov-12 20:22:16

sounds more than a bit annoying.....it is often hard to stay positive about the school
I have just been invited to a meeting at the school with the head of year who looks like cruella de ville (dd's thought not mine) to discuss her low attendance...
actually even if she is 5 mins late they mark absent for that session, and there was rampant bullying on the school bus (which took them weeks to sort out), so I was having to drive her in, get caught in traffic, and be a bit late not absent.
And they know that. last meeting with this vile woman, she sat copying an email from me into her notebook.....

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:23:41

My kids have clearly worked out that it is in their ruddy interests to go to the medical centre with minor ailments as the medical centre gets a satisfying flap on and they get chauffeur service home. (That having been said, DS2 does seem to have a minor temperature now so there is a slight justification on this one occasion).

No, the food spill was a note personally addressed to me in DS1's planner! I kid you not!

The detention thing seems to happen weekly, suggesting it has shortcomings as a discipline strategy.

Themumsnot Mon 26-Nov-12 20:24:57

I do sympathise. But I think that some of the exasperation you are directing at the school might be usefully directed at your DC. You imply that you have multiple DC at this school. Are the issues spread evenly across the DC or is there one in particular who is the focus of a lot of these issues? Because with the sickness thing, I would be bollocking making strenuous enquiries of the child regarding just why they felt the need to visit the medical centre in the first place.
The homework? They are in secondary school. They need to do it themselves. If you are spending hours trying to help them fathom it out you are facilitating them in not taking responsibility. Let them screw up, let them get bollocked, stop protecting them from (and getting irritated by) the consequences of their own failure to ensure they know what they are supposed to be doing.
I know it must be frustrating, but I think it is your children who need to shape up, not the school.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:25:11

Goralka, the head of the DS's last school was like that. It is tempting to ignore their silly power games, but you have to engage, even if you know they are getting off on the power of it all.

BeatTheClock Mon 26-Nov-12 20:27:08

My dd is yr 9 and I don't hear much of a peep from the school really which is a blessed relief after the junior school who wanted our input every two minutes.

I think what stands out in your post though is some friction with the school over homework. It needs doing if you want to avoid detentions. It might be boring or appear irrelevant - if so go in and discuss with them. But they may have a bigger picture as to why something is being done as homework. In other words you think it's a minor issue, they clearly don't.

If dc are saying they're sick (or are about to be) what else can they do but call you?confused Maybe speak to dc about what constitutes being ill. Get them to take some resposibility for the outcome. If mine were getting me called in for no reason I'd be onto my dc about it big time.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:29:25

Believe me, my kids have been thoroughly bollocked and I am completely sick of this nonsense. I am quite capable of leaving them to it. However whenever I back off, the school insists I re-engage with all this on their terms, on the grounds that it is compulsory for parents at this school to do it the school's way, i.e. it's practically our homework and our detentions as a family. Otherwise we get called in for family bollockingsmeetings and have to sit there for hours coming up with complex plans as to how to solve all these 'terribly difficult' problems.

LittleFrieda Mon 26-Nov-12 20:30:47

Your children are possibly picking up on your tendency to ridicule the school and its rules. Just saying.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:31:40

And for the record I spend an eternity talking about the importance of homework (yes, even the shirt drawing) with the DCs, and set them up properly to do it, insist them approach it properly, supervise and support them and generally take the school's side. But here on MN I am speaking my true mind wink

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:32:48

I have never once ridiculed the school or its rules, and indeed until I snapped tonight I was one of its most supportive parents (DH is a governor as well).

BrianButterfield Mon 26-Nov-12 20:33:17

I can't speak for all schools but it's quite unusual for a child to get multiple, repeated homework detentions. I mean, not at all unknown, but in my form there are maybe 2 or 3 students who get any homework detentions at all, let alone repeated ones.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:35:19

Well masses of them get repeated homework detentions at this school. Which makes me wonder about their policy.

amillionyears Mon 26-Nov-12 20:35:39

I never helped my kids do their secondary homework, well maybe twice in total.
I figured that if they couldnt do it, probably other pupils couldnt do it as well, and the teacher ought to know about it.
I also thought they should be self reliant about it, and either swim or sionk and take the personal consquences.

Also, the kids would have heard from me if they were in medical when they shouldnt have been.

Aere any of your children in Year 7, and there are also new members of staff that are being a bit over zealous?

If your child is having multiple detentions than either your child is auditioning for the vacancy caused by the death of Attilla the Hun or your school is crap.

That said I do sympathise with the attitude thing. Our secondary has a bloody good line in patronising and annoying. The ultimate was when they sent a letter home saying it's target setting evening but not saying anything about why this was important. Neither of us could really go that night so we left it - only to get a snot-o-gram home saying 'as you missed the VERY IMPORTANT meeting, here is the information you would have got if you had (bothered) to attend the VERY IMPORTANT meeting' Dh got very cross with them about that and this year when dd2 was going through target setting the letter said exactly what the meeting was and why it was important.

I was livid when dd1 was told her skirt was too short about a week from the end of the summer term. It was less than an inch above the knee and she'd had it for 10 months for heavens sake! I was also livid to get an absence letter last week when 3 days of the 5 dd2 has been off this term were caused by an accident which took place AT SCHOOL. And so it goes on. The stricter the school get the more rebellious and stubborn I get..............not my dds - they're very good - it's me that's the problem grin

Themumsnot Mon 26-Nov-12 20:38:58

I came home the other night and found DH helping one of our DC with their English homework. I was shock as there was way too much parental input going on. If a child is getting too much assistance it is hard for me, as a teacher, to tell how they are really coping with their work.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 20:40:32

If you don't give something in, for example you packed your bag for the wrong week (rotating timetable) and left it at home, you get the chance to give it in the next day and if you don't do that, you seem to get a detention (even if you were off sick on the day you were supposed to give it in). If you do some decent work on the wrong exercise, because it wasn't clear in class, you seem to get a detention (often these end up being whole class ones). If you fail a test by 1%, you seem to get a detention (again, often whole class oens). If you only do half the homework because it took you a long time to understand, you seem to get a detention. If you have your tie on wrong (I mean not showing five stripes exactly, none of this self-expression malarky) more than twice, you seem to get a detention.

Themumsnot Mon 26-Nov-12 20:41:08

I will agree however that there is something about the tone of school letters that seems designed to reduce parents to the level of five year olds.

FuckingWonderwoman Mon 26-Nov-12 20:49:26

I once had a teacher write "see me" - addressed to me, not DD - in the home-school diary. shockshockshockshock

lljkk Mon 26-Nov-12 20:55:06

Do many of the children commute long distance (well I think 30 miles is long distance each way)? I wonder if school has habits more suited to more local kids. Serious bollocking to child who drags me out for an unnecessary 60 mile round trip.

DH got a nagging text telling us we had failed to sign DS's planner in recent weeks. The school had never previously informed me that I am supposed to sign the planner. I still don't know what it is supposed to mean when I sign his planner. That I have seen it? So what? Does that mean I believe it to have correct info or that he necessarily did the homework listed? Or merely that I can confirm that he hasn't lost it this week. Who knows?

balia Mon 26-Nov-12 20:57:08

Hmm...schools generally don't 'like' giving detentions as it means staff are tied up babysitting when they could be giving meaningful input to students willing to stay after school...

So if in the first example, a child 'forgets' to take it in, and then 'forgets' the next day as well, that seems not unreasonable - but if they (for example) turn up to the detention with the homework, do they still have to do it? Because then you are looking at a power-play type situation. But TBH most school timetables are not the Krypton factor, and a basic check of timetable/bag would sort that out. Doesn't this 'good' school have a VLE that you can access homework on?

If the reality is that your child is given a whole class detention because a couple of kids do the wrong exercise, then that needs raising with Dept/HT. If the reality is that the child isn't writing their homework down as thoroughly a they need to, then ask the school to email you the details.

They do seem detention mad, by your description. Do they get good results? Is that why you chose it?

LittleFrieda Mon 26-Nov-12 21:01:29

DS2 has recently moved to a state sixth form. It's an entirely different culture. I heard nothing at all about his progress, then, this week, "Your son is underperforming his target grade in one of his 4 A level subjects" see me after the mock exams in January. grin

amillionyears Mon 26-Nov-12 21:12:35

I would write down your entire list of grievances, and ask to make an appointment with your child's form teacher or head of year. And go through the list with them one by one, with your child their too.
Prob some can be ironed out, some you will find your child has not quite told you everything correctly, and some may be indeed stupid school rules.

Mathsdidi Mon 26-Nov-12 21:13:35

I have to say that the reasons you are giving for detentions do not seem particularly unreasonable to me. If any child does not hand in homework to me either on the day it is due or the following day then yes they get a detention, in my case it is usually a lunchtime detention but for repeat offenders it would be after school. If they do the wrong exercise they get a detention, because it should be clear in class (if it truly is a whole class problem then you do need to speak to the school and get them to ensure homework is clearly set). If they fail to wear the correct uniform then yes they get a detention (most pupils seem to wear their uniform correctly after such a detention), I don't particularly think uniform is a huge issue but if it's part of the school rules then all of the rules should be followed. If you fail a test you get a detention (except ours are a 'chance to resit and improve your mark') because we generally have very clear expectations that the pupils should be achieving their potential and if they aren't then there is something wrong which is often, but not always, because they are not putting in the effort they should be.

I do know that letters home can be patronising and I truly do sympathise with that. We had a letter telling us how to prepare our child for GCSE exams, namely feed them healthy food, make sure they are properly rested, get them doing some revision hmm. All the parents who have an ounce of sence are doing all that already and the ones who aren't aren't likely to start just because school have sent a letter home.

ivykaty44 Mon 26-Nov-12 21:20:36

I get text messages - from the school disco to don't forgets its teacher training day on friday, also about school lateness and everything in between.

last week though I did get one from my dd's french teacher - she likes texting to let parents know that detentions will be issued if homework is not handed in as it is already late.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 21:20:57

Do you know, a VLE would make the world of difference in this house. I might suggest that. I know other parents there who would love this.

DH has come home and I had a bit of a rant to him, and there are one or two points that are inconsistent in terms of school policy and general messages that are supposed to be going out. So he will raise that as a collective concern at the next governing body meetings, plus he is going to challenge the assumption that all mothers are sitting at home waiting for the school's next diktat or edict (which drives many of us completely potty).

One factor here though is that both of our boys have statements of SEN and the school is supposed to be giving them support, butit is not very helpful when the TA is in a foreign language classroom, doesn't have a clue what is going on, and writes the homework down for DS2 phonetically in his planner in illegible handwriting, which we all then have to try to decode (that's one example).

We chose the school for lots of reasons, but mainly because it's a small school more suited to our boys than their local school, plus some important cultural reasons I can't list here or I will out myself.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 21:23:59

I think they are completely detention mad, by the way given that many of the kids there are super compliant already, seriously, and would be regardless of the number of detentions given.

BoffinMum Mon 26-Nov-12 21:26:56

I would add that there are some specific details as to why I feel so irritated by this school at the moment that I simply can't address on here as it would immediately become obvious which school it was.

tiggytape Mon 26-Nov-12 22:50:04


1. Just very odd!

2. Boring or not they have to do it but it shouldn't involve your involvement for hours each week. If it does then that needs raising with the school.

3. Constant detentions must partially be down to DCs unless you are really saying that in every class of 30, all of them are in solid detentions. DS's school are hot on detentions for minor things too - a lot of schools seem to do this now in fact. That doesn't mean they all get them but the ones that continue to not hand in homework / forget their games kit do seem to be in pretty much constant detentions every week. Mine is only Year 7 though - I figured the school do this to break them and by Christmas they are all compliant and hand in their homework?? Or maybe some of them are just destined to be in detentions forever more?

The SEN issue is different though. If your child's TA is not enabling them to access the work correctly then again this is something the school needs to know about.

4. The sickness thing isn't the school's fault. They have to follow the guidelines on infection control. If your child reports to the nurse that they've vomited, or are about to, they have to go home.
So either your DC was sick and the school did the right thing or your DC faked it / exaggerated / was being a bit dramatic in which case it is down to your DC. The school aren't allowed to weed out genuine-contagious-sick-people from possibly-faking-it-sick people so you need to tell DC not to go to the nurse unless they are genuinely ill with something that won't allow them to be wolfing down pizza 3 hours later.

And I agree with you on the presentation evenings. We have had a lot of them over the years on how to teach a child timetables, how to get them to approach comprehension exercises, how to spot nits, how to label a lunchbox and how to use the I.T homework system.
It never occurs to any school that people who bother to come home from work early especially to get to these things are probably the people who already do all this stuff anyway and that the people who the school are cross with for not signing the spellings sheet or whatever are probably also the exact same people who won’t bother to come to an afternoon session to be nagged about it either!

TheFallenMadonna Mon 26-Nov-12 23:01:31

I give detentions for incomplete or absent homework. If a student is absent, I still expect them to do it, although I do of course stretch the deadline. I don't accept the "I didn't get it" excuse, as I give a week for completion and I expect any questions to be asked before hand in date.

My DS has just started at secondary school, and if he gets an after school detention, he will have to wait at school until I can pick him up after I finish work, as there is only a school bus. So far, he has done his homework on time.

casma Mon 26-Nov-12 23:07:21

I can relate to this - last week we got an email from DD's tutor asking us to ensure she brings a pen to class. She is 16 and in sixth form. Why they think I should monitor her pen usage I don't know!

Maryz Mon 26-Nov-12 23:13:24

I like some of my children's school's disciplinary measures.

They have to do "lunchtime duty" - which is clearing plates etc and wiping down tables.

And once or twice ds has been allocated to the caretaker and made to clear out the changing rooms or the shed they put all the sports stuff in. And pick up litter.

Those type of punishments make children think.

I also have no problem with children being punished for incomplete homework - as long as the teacher actually checks the homework. ds has changed maths teacher this year, and has had a horrible shock. After a year of not bothering, he came home and said "Mr X actually takes up our homework and marks it shock, I'm going to have to do it properly".

I was very pleased.

AlfalfaMum Mon 26-Nov-12 23:46:18

I like the idea of that type of punishment too, Maryz, I'd see it as my DC learning useful skills at the same time grin

I can't say any of the correspondences I get from DD1's school are ever snotty or condescending... Although her English teacher did sound a bit irked the second time he sent me a note reminding me to buy DD1 a book for her course blush

I reckon detention should be reserved for really bad behaviour, not just being a bit forgetful or something. It's disruptive to home life, and potentially dangerous when you end up with a thirteen year old walking home alone in the dark.

AlfalfaMum Mon 26-Nov-12 23:52:26

Oh and Boffinmum, can you please give me a link to your fucking housekeeping blog? I'm quite keen on blogs.

BoffinMum Tue 27-Nov-12 08:01:32

Maryz, they are great punishments and a lot more likely to reform naughty children IMO.

Alfalfa, grin it's Austerity Housekeeping Christmas to do list and planner due to go up today if my children give me five minutes to do it.

DH is going to raise question of central website point for letters to parents as the home/school communication on the admin front is comparatively poor (another crisis today as we didn't know proper details of a trip).

Going to have a World's Strictest Parents parents week too, and confiscate loads of electronic stuff (oh, the power), give lectures to perpetrators, set tasks in garden and so on. If anyone has any ironing, now is a good time to send it over wink

BoffinMum Tue 27-Nov-12 08:05:44

NorthernLurker, FWIW, target setting as a concept is a bit out of date and has been more or less discredited as an educational tactic in this context. Presumably the deputy head had just been on a course, and decided to import it without being aware of this. The buzz word now is 'personalised learning plans'.

PropositionJoe Tue 27-Nov-12 08:21:46

Hi boffin. You're normally pretty reasonable on here aren't you. I think the issues that you can't raise on here, probably combined with your concerns about the extra support your sons need, are meaning that you are getting this out of proportion. Detentions for missing homework are standard and if your sons then have to wait for a later train, they can be doing homework at school, can't they. If the homework set had really been unclear, the whole class would have got it wrong, presumably there would have been no detention the I suspect your son wasn't listening. Drawing a shirt is presumably an exercise in shading and pencil control, not unreasonable. The illness thing is down to your kids, not the sick room.

It does sound as if letters being on the website would help, many schools do this I think.

JugglingWithPossibilities Tue 27-Nov-12 08:29:52

Hmm, back later ... school run first !

JugglingWithPossibilities Tue 27-Nov-12 08:31:33

Ooh, glad to hear that they might be moving on from "target setting" as a concept for children's learning boffin smile

Mathsdidi Tue 27-Nov-12 09:17:12

Ofsted still seem to want children to know their targets though. So all my classes have them dutifully copied into their planners. Do they know what they mean? They know vaguely what levels are good or bad. Do they know what they need to do to achieve their targets? Do what 'Miss' tells them and work hard, which the majority of them would be doing anyway.

amillionyears Tue 27-Nov-12 09:22:07

It sounds to me ,in your particular case, that you would be better off doing HE.

JugglingWithPossibilities Tue 27-Nov-12 09:40:34

On targets etc. ....

My DD wrote a wonderful piece of creative writing last night. She was then checking the descriptions for pieces of writing at each level ... level 6C, 7A etc.
and thinking about which level hers would receive, and also I think ways in which she could improve it towards the next level. It had categories for different elements of the writing too, such as interesting vocab, use of grammar etc. That all seems really good to me. She has often told me proudly eg " I got a 7B for my history test Mum "

But I don't see any real benefit in her being set a target as in by the end of key stage 3 you will be achieving a level 7C in English (or whatever - I admit I'm not very familiar with it all ... and forget whether A is better or C is ! ). Why not just shoot for the stars as my DD does, and see where you land ? smile

ThePoppyAndTheIvy Tue 27-Nov-12 09:48:42

DS1's school is also detention obsessed. Especially the RE Dept. DS1 has Aspergers & Dyslexia but it's not uncommon for him to get an RE detention for poor spelling!! I'm convinced his RE teacher doesn't know what dyslexia actually is!

As for the bag wiping instructions, that's ace grin.

jeee Tue 27-Nov-12 09:53:27

My eldest has been in secondary school for half a term. To date, the only contact I've had from the school has been one letter about a report which she hadn't yet got. Which meant that we had some problem decoding the letter. Her report was sent home a couple of weeks after that.

Your children's school seems positively slack on the detention front - if DD doesn't hand her homework in on the day that it is due, a detention will follow. No excuses. She doesn't have the luxury of bringing it in the next day. She narrowly avoided a detention when she forgot her apron for cookery food tech.

After primary school, it's great not to have the school breathing down our parental necks. Largely the school seems to be of the opinion that school is the child's responsibility.

JugglingWithPossibilities Tue 27-Nov-12 10:03:36

Yes it's very tricky around special needs and discipline isn't it ?
My DD has mild dyslexia and I do feel it affects things like her organisation and presentation as well as her spelling.
Of course we all want to work together to improve these things.
I'm not great on organisation either (and may have some attention deficit traits) and you feel schools could try and make some allowances/ show some understanding towards the different challenges faced by parents and families too. Sometimes I have to say individuals do show this sort of caring attitude and it is always appreciated.
But sometimes you feel a more blanket approach has been taken don't you ?
Comments on work along the lines of "must improve presentation" seem a little annoying !
And you do wonder at secondary school if all teachers are aware of the more nuanced special needs and individual differences of the children.
My DD has been recognised as having mild dyslexia at primary school and for example is taking part in a research project at Cambridge University to understand elements of dyslexia better.

bb99 Tue 27-Nov-12 10:48:27

OOOhhh I could just go on and on and on....to general parents....

Detentions aren't supposed to be convenient. That's the point isn't it? Where a friend teaches, the kids get detentions for failing their class assessments and for not handing in homework. It has the best results around as when the kids 'do their time', there's a lot of teacher input to help the kids iron out any problems. Parents are not always supportiive of this as it's 'disruptive', inconvenient and their children moan and moan about it, but at the end of the day it's for the educational benefit of the kids. They have a zero tolerance policy on lateness and uniform as well. The reason they are soo passionate about the lateness thing is that when you are all grown up you can't keep being 5 mins late for work. You need to learn these habits when you are young. Same with uniform. If there's a dress code at work, you need to know how to stick to it. Same with general rules. If there are health and safety rules at work you need to know how to comply with them. Let's face it - rules can be really annoying. Understanding how to and why we follow them is a skill.

The same can be said of dc1s school. dc1 has gotton into trouble for doing daft things like bucking uniform norms and has had negative events for forgetting stuff and not doing things in time. dc1 is now (several years on) much better organised.

Having said all that OP the quality of TA would drive me insane and may/could be at the bottom of a lot of the issues your boys are having? It would appear that the support offered doesn't seem to be enablng them to do things like keep their tie on to the schools standard, or support them understanding their homework etc etc. Do they have a 1 to 1 assigned to them or different TA in each class? If 1 to 1 then their individual needs should be much better (IMO) supported and you should be involved in that??

Teaches do generally GENUINELY care aabout our childrens' progress and achievement. I don't know a single person who is in teaching who isn't passionate about the achievement of the kids in their care and want them to achieve their best (even if the children don't want to!!).

realcoalfire Tue 27-Nov-12 11:07:56

The secondary school is great, any communications always very respectful.

Re the primary school -The only thing that bugs me are the nit/thtreadworms letters. A parent has very sensibly informed school that there has been a case of ....'
The 'very sensibly' sounds like something you would say to an 8 year old.

Their misuse of practice/practise bugs me too, as does their inability to spell our very common surname ,but that's another thread

realcoalfire Tue 27-Nov-12 11:12:21

Just to hijack.
None of my DC have had after school detentions yet, but if/when they do they will not be able to get home! We live in a rural area 8.5 miles from school (travel by LEA chartered coach)and no public transport.I am a SAHM and DH isn't home with the car til 6.00.there is no way I would fork out £20+ for a taxi.They would just have to keep them there til DH could collect them.

Mathsdidi Tue 27-Nov-12 12:09:51

real You'll have to make sure your kids know that then and don't do anything they know will get them an after school detention.
If there are a lot of rural kids then the school should have a policy of ensuring that after school detentions are only for more serious transgressions. I know my last school had 85% of pupils arriving on school buses and their policy was that lunchtime was the time for detentions, after school was only allowed after a variety of other punishments/consequences had been given, and only in consultation with the Head of Year who knows the family. There was even one teacher who would then drive the kids home if they had no other way of getting home.

imnotmymum Tue 27-Nov-12 12:16:44

Never experienced this with our Dcs school at all.

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.

breadandbutterfly Tue 27-Nov-12 21:35:39

Soundsdreadful and unnecessary to me. My dd's school is excellent, gets good results, till reading this I thought was strict but having read yours it's like a walk in the park! My dd is quite disorganised and forgets books and homework but I think has only had one detention - generally there is another opportunity to hand late stuff in or several opportunities. Seems pointless to endlessly punish like this - if the homework isn't done then the child won't learn is what matters not that it reflects some inherent 'bad attitude' which must be punished - seems a v negative view of the child.

Sounds a ghastly school and v unsupportive.

Arisbottle Tue 27-Nov-12 23:01:46

I do not think that generally speaking it helps children to think that they can miss a deadline several times and that there will be no consequences.

echt Wed 28-Nov-12 07:56:00

Never understood the detention for no homework lark. Homework not handed is a note in the diary email home. When the late homework comes in it goes to bottom of the pile of marking (unless there's a very good reason - repeat email won't open/my printer won't work offenders are given short shrift).

The late homework is returned when it makes its way to the top of the pile - weeks later.

The reward for punctual homework is a quick turnaround on the marking. The students understand this very well; they really appreciate swift marking/assessment.

Some parents are not keen on my no detentions for no homework. I politely remind them that homework is done at HOME. Why should the student effectively be rewarded with more of my time?

tiggytape Wed 28-Nov-12 08:25:07

My DS is in Year 7 and although a bright boy is not at all motivated by the prospect of getting his homework marked faster if he hands it in on time. Nor would he see a detention, or any other form of 1:1 time with a teacher after school, as a reward.

The suggestion that homework completed on time is a reward in its own right has definitely escaped him whereas the threat of detention (and seeing lots of them handed out) works. He is reluctantly conscientious about everything!

I suppose I wouldn't be happy if he was one of the children that was in detention three times a week but he does need a sanction hanging over his head in order to double check his school bag / complete a project well instead of quickly / remember to write the homework in his planner else he's be a lot more lazy and slapdash about the whole thing.

cory Wed 28-Nov-12 08:25:54

What seems wrong about Boffin's school seems to be that they don't differentiate between behaviour likely to have been caused by SEN and behaviour caused by sheer carelessness. If behaviour is/could conceivably be caused by SEN, then they should have a plan to overcome it and work with the pupil.

Otoh I do not agree with the idea that low level disruption and carelessness should not be punished in an NT child.

Ds has just been put back on report for carelessness, failure to concentrate in class and failure to do homework. I am delighted. All his teachers agree that he has never spoken rudely, never used violence and never damaged school property. But every time he keeps giggling in class or staring out of the window and refusing to get on with the lesson, he is disrupting somebody else's education and he needs to learn now that people won't accept that forever.

The school is very clear that they expect this to be his responsibility, not ours. Their rationale with detention for homework not completed is "this work has got to be done, you haven't done it, so now we are going to make sure you sit down and do it". Even ds gets that one.

twoterrors Wed 28-Nov-12 08:32:18

I agree with breadandbutterfly.

Some children, without a SEN diagnosis, find organisation much, much harder than others. Presumably slow runners are not put in endless detentions for not running fast? Organisation is a skill like any other. I think punishments should be for when a child has not tried (or causes trouble as defined by BoffinMum) - not a response to a child struggling.

I have plenty of teachers in my family so I do understand how frustrating it is. I also have children who have been through two very different kinds of schools, and are doing well. My older child was chaos on legs at 11, and is now pretty well organised. The school's atitude was that she was doing her best - there would have been consequences if she had not been and she knew that.

Endless emails or calls abou trivia would drive me potty too. You are not in school with your children.

breadandbutterfly Wed 28-Nov-12 09:11:57

Absolutely - in year 7,getting your head round homework for loads of different subjects, remembering books etc is a skill that time to develop.Whilst it's fine to warn children and eventually give detention if work is missed, to do it as the first step seems unduly harsh - there IS a difference between deliberate laziness/decision NOT to do the work, and just leaving your book at home, not understanding work set, etc. Frankly, if a child is not understanding the work set then it's the teacher who deserves the detention for failing to explain clearly - and I say that as a teacher.

The child has to want to learn - I don't think it's the school's job to force children to learn, it's the school's job to enthuse the child so they want to learn, provide appropriate lessons and point out expectations. But ultimately, it's the child's loss if they won't do the work - the lack of good qualifications and lack of knowledge is the real 'punishment' - no other is or should be necessary. In fact, I suspect detention and other artificial punishments detract from that core message and make the child imagine they are doing the work as a favour for the school, rather than to benefit themselves.

I think I know the school BoffinMum is talking about (this is based on a school she has named several times on other threads).

If it's the one I'm thinking of the head is very clear at the parent meeting when making school choices that the school has these expectations of uniform/behaviour/homework (he mentioned boys would be sent home if their hair was deemed too long)

I think this is because it is a very oversubscribed school that is seen as the most desirable but the only way to maintain this reputation/results is to discourage applicantions from families who do not make education a high priority.

Until a few years ago there was a lot of back door selection (based on child & patent interviews). They take 10% by apptitude and people don't even believe that is solely based on the test (I have a child who passed but others parents in his primary were convinced the school had said he was top overall in class rather than better than their dc in the areas tested)

They have a sibling policy but must be getting to the end of the siblings of hand picked families. The school is probable getting more 'comprehensive'. I think currently unless you are a sibling or part of the selected % you have to live within a mile of the school.

We decided not to send the dc here (as the subjects that ours are strongest in were weaker than other alternatives) but the people I do know who sent children are happy and have never mentioned excessive detentions. Because of it's size and structure it is seen by parents as the best school for bright boys with SEN. I'm not sure the school is overjoyed by this!

I may be thinking of a different school but it shows there are schools who put a lot of emphasis on little things - they only want pupils who parents are 100% engaged in their education. I think it is to keep the middle class peer group.

JugglingWithPossibilities Wed 28-Nov-12 11:49:17

Think you can be 100% engaged in your child's education but still mainly leave the responsibility for things with your DC's. Although maybe I could support DD more with her organisation as she does find it a challenge ? Trouble is, so do I ! And she is doing well both generally and in learning to be organised.
Am hoping that a few consequences around organisation and giving her, along with the school's expectations, responsibilty for organising herself will not be a bad thing overall.

Secondly to respond to Buffin's post up-thread about these issues being very tied up with DC's SEN issues ...

It seems to me that children with SEN and those of lower ability really do not get a fair deal from teachers and schools regarding praise and punishment.
If you are bright, NT (no SEN), and from a supportive family you are praised to the hills.
If you have any issues your school experience is blighted by excessive punishments and your self-esteem suffers at the expense of your learning potential as well as your confidence.

I think we are only just beginning to take on board individual differences, and to reward effort over results.

BoffinMum Wed 28-Nov-12 11:53:10

Silas, that's all correct, and thanks for not properly outing me/it on this thread. I don't mind people knowing what school it is as long as it's not named here as many teachers do try to help, they really do, so I would be mortified if they felt that wasn't appreciated. However there are a few teachers etc who are simply not getting it, or talking to colleagues as they probably should be doing, and it's making me so stressed. I feel on the back foot the whole time.

Education is my entire life, and I am also a trained teacher, so I am more engaged with what my kids do than practically every other parent I know, because of this. The kids have short hair, full uniform, shiny shoes, replete pencil cases and all the other things that compliant families ensure their children have for school.

Silas, knowing the school, you will know what it does that we felt was important to our family culturally, as well as the SEN provision, of course. We looked around the SEN departments of the two nearest schools to us, and simply despaired. So much underachievement, you would not believe.

I almost didn't come back to this thread yesterday as I was feeling quite upset and a bit got at by about half of the posters who don't seem to understand that schools get their home/school communication wrong sometimes with regard to SEN children (and even kids in general) and I feel awkward justifying my parenting over and over again on here when the reality is I have been dealt a pretty challenging hand by fate and I am doing my level best to ensure DS1 and DS2 get a good education. So I've decided to leave the thread now for my own sanity, as it's not helping. Thanks however to those posters who were supportive.


JugglingWithPossibilities Wed 28-Nov-12 11:56:37

Take care Boff - and thanks for a really interesting discussion smile

seeker Wed 28-Nov-12 11:57:34

I ^ dream^ of communication from the school.........!!!!!!!

Had you thought about a) making sure your children do their homework and b) tell them that if they pretend to be ill at school the wrath of God will descend and all weekend plans will be cancelled? Just a thought grin

seeker Wed 28-Nov-12 11:58:42

Oops. Please ignore my last post. Made the mistake of only reading the OP.blush

twoterrors Wed 28-Nov-12 13:58:51

OP, I think you sound like you are doing a great job. I am sorry you have found the thread upsetting, and I can quite see why.

I don't understand the theory behind this sort of micromanagement: if successful, the school will have trained you to manage every detail of your children's lives - surely that is not the desired outcome?

I would definitely expect to hear from school about any bullying or real trouble, at once. For misdemeanours that result from personality, immaturity, SEN, or being dreamy, I just don't see how frequent negative contact with the parents or punishment of the children helps. And it must be very demoralising and draining.

I agree about rewarding effort over results.

AlfalfaMum Thu 29-Nov-12 00:30:58

Oh Boffinmum, sorry you have felt judged.
Even I got that you just needed a bit of a rant and maybe some compassion.
My DD2 has Aspergers, and I completely despair of when she starts secondary and has to somehow magically obtain organisation skills. Yesterday she forgot her entire homework folder, which we only realised when we got to her occupational therapy appointment on the other side of the city. By the time we'd have got back to the school it would have been closed; luckily a dear friend that lives near the school picked it up for us. This is routine behaviour for DD2, this is with a lovely teacher who is trained in SN, and the extra help of a resource teacher, and all sorts of strategies in place...

Anyway, I agree with twoterrors that you are doing a great job.
And I like your blog smile

AlfalfaMum Thu 29-Nov-12 00:32:16

*organisational skills I mean!

Silibilimili Thu 29-Nov-12 00:39:21

I sympathise.

My dds is just in reception but I can see this sort of thing happening at her school.

We get approx 3 emails a day to deal with. Every fooking email is sent as an attachment so we cannot easily open the Email for a quick look. Every week there is something or the other. A request for crafts stuff, a request for money, a request for ingredients, a request for help in school. What the fook is the school for then!?
It's like the parents have nothing better to do then deal all day with schools whimsical requests! Can't they send emails without attachments? How hard is that.

And breathe....

seeker Thu 29-Nov-12 06:07:58

3 emails a day? Really? Wow! What were yesterday's 3 about?

JugglingWithPossibilities Thu 29-Nov-12 08:02:11

I'm amazed to hear of all these emails from schools - especially the personal ones. I've only ever had a couple of requests to go into school and talk with someone about an issue ( sadly karate related with DS ! sad ), and no personal emails - just the general stuff about can you make a cake for the fete etc. etc - and even those are mercifully occasional

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