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Help me be nice....

(133 Posts)

I have a disagreement with ds' school. It's quite big.

I don't really want to put much of the details on here because they are a good and nice school and don't deserve to be picked apart.

But how can I be nice, and not upset anyone whilst making it clear I am not happy about something.

You'd think I'd know. But in the past it was always about being reasonable and polite, realising that any implied friendship was just about them using as much of their tool as guilt as they possibly could.

With this school it is more genuinely about being friends - I hope.

So what? Take party bags? booze perhaps?

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 27-Feb-13 17:55:35

In writing or verbally I find there are some very useful phrases which take the aggression out of stuff with school.

Of course, always start with a positive "I really like what you are doing with..."

Then use a phrase like "building on that, I wonder if we might try..."

Or "he has been really responding well at home when we ..., do you think it might be a good idea to try something like that at school?

Or, "I would very much like your views on whether x might be a good route to try with DS?"

By phrasing things as questions, you hand the power of decision-making back to the teacher. It is parents trying to tell them how to do their job that gets their backs up. You need to sort of be humble/respectful and make suggestions for them to consider

It is then much harder then for them to refuse, though they may suggest alternatives. But at least then you are starting a discussion on the right topic. Setting the agenda for discussion, but allowing them some room for manoeuvre in that space.

Minx179 Wed 27-Feb-13 17:56:50

Have you tried 'I feel xyz when this happens/you say that'. You then leave the school to come back with a response.

Just a tip I've learnt from councelling; I've recently tried it elsewhere, where I have been trying to get some people to listen to my opinion/views/research for the last year, to no avail. Tried the 'I feel' approach and it worked.


KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 27-Feb-13 17:56:55

It kind of depends what the disagreement is about and whether the school know that you are in disagreement??

If they know and you know etc that you are in disagreement you can forget any thoughts of genuine frienship - he who pays the piper an' all.

They might be genuinely nice people but they occupy structural locations. Structural location will ultimately determine action.

Knowing that you may be able to do things that make things better at school on a day to day basis - but don't try and bribe them smile

moondog Wed 27-Feb-13 18:02:43

I don't think anyone wins when parents and staff fall out so always good to be mates.
If you the sort of person who is repectful of them and their ways, that goes a long way (eg kids in school on time, turn up to meetings, fill in forms on time, volunteer and help out). I know from experience teachers go the extra mile for folk like that.

I think Sickof makes some great points.

Oh yes. They know there's a disagreement.

Broadly they have given a reason for not being willing to do something that I think is valuable and the reason is centrered around ds' capability.

They know I disagree. They don't know I have evidence to support (though the evidence isn't documented, so they'll have to take my word for it, or not).

It will be face to face.

Really helpful post sickof. I'll read it a few times to help me get the frame of mind and tone right in my head.

In honestly, ds has a lot to gain from my investing in this relationship, unlike many others gone before, and I don't want to either pee them off, or reduce my expectations of ds nor his pace of learning.

Oh I can bribe them Keepon. I have a garage full of plastacine that is there's if they want it............

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 27-Feb-13 18:10:13

Also, depending on how big a deal it is, sometimes you might have to lose a battle to win the war. There are very few decent SS around, so even a flawed decent one is worth its weight in gold

mymatemax Wed 27-Feb-13 18:18:06

I must admit that I dont interfere with the actual teaching etc. I try to leave that to the school. As long as ds2 is happy & progressing (as a person not NEC academically) then I tend to let them be the judge of his learning. I offer ideas & strategies & we bounce & share ideas. Generally speak daily when I hand him over. I always find keeping it less formal is the most positive way of working together.

zzzzz Wed 27-Feb-13 18:19:58

Be able to list four or five things they've done we'll and contrast it with other providers. Ie butter them up . Keep these to drop like honey bombs when arms start crossing.

Always present the infamous shit sandwich. Ie good bad good

Express gratitude if it is deserved

If your request is refused even given your expert experience bow to their experience and ask if they would be willing to try your idea for a brief time

Imply that other professionals would be interested to hear how this particular approach worked at school

Shake hands firmly palm at least perpendicular to floor
Make people wait for your thoughts
Sit with your back to the light on the highest chair
Raise your chin when talking to others
Finnish the meeting by thanking everyone for their input

silverfrog Wed 27-Feb-13 18:28:35

I agree with sickof that sometimes you have to lose a battle (or ignore an issue for a little while) in order to win a war.

I find sometiems that I have said the same thing to dd1's school a number of different ways before the penny drops and they say 'oh, right. thanks for that, we'll bear ti in mind'. Doesn't sound very positive on their part, but it does actually mean that they are keeping it in mind when planning the next step.

we are in the middle of an issue with dd1 at the moment, and they have ended up exactly where I predicted they might. it is ok, and totally recoverable, but I don't know why they had to end up here, iyswim, when it was pretty obvious that it would happen (obvious to us at home, anyway).

on the other hand, it does mean that they now have first hand data on how to handle dd1, which will defintiely come in useful to them over the years, as it is all about how she handles praise/reinforcement. so a case of blurring over details to look at the bigger picture, really.

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 27-Feb-13 18:39:52

In my work career, we used to call this the "Not Invented Here" syndrome

Ie, people don't want to do something unless they came up with the idea in the first place.

So our job is to gently guide them so that they come up with the ideas themselves,

Sounds like a very good case of NIh syndrome, silverfrog!

lougle Wed 27-Feb-13 18:48:22

Perhaps it would help to take a step back from the positions each of you occupy and look at what the common goal is?

1. No decent school (which you say this is) is intending to slow progress, stop progress or, worse, sabotage potential progress.
2. The shared goal is to improve DS's attainment in all areas.
3. The area of concern is x.

The central issue is that X is not defined in such a way that both parties agree.

The secondary issue is that in order to define X in such a way that both parties agree, there has to be a mode of definition. The parties do not agree as to how that definition can be arrived at.

SO, what's your priority? Having X defined, or the method of definition?

Do you really need such a detailed method of finding out what X is? The answer may be yes....fair enough. However, you're going to find out why school don't feel the same and what they are prepared to do.

Does it matter that right now the school doesn't see your DS as being able to engage in a method that you feel he can? Possibly, possibly not. It depends if that is a symptom of a wider mismatch of expectation.

Out of interest, the particular issue wide is the mismatch between your expectation and theirs?

zzzzz Wed 27-Feb-13 18:53:46

"Does it matter that right now the school doesn't see your DS as being able to engage in a method that you feel he can? Possibly, possibly not. It depends if that is a symptom of a wider mismatch of expectation.

Out of interest, the particular issue wide is the mismatch between your expectation and theirs?"

lougle Is talking a lo of sense.

LimboLil Wed 27-Feb-13 19:25:53

Oh gawd I'm no help. I have managed to stay nice so far but I wear one of those fixed toothy grins and my face is in danger if cracking under the strain. The times I've held it together, been polite, and the gone home and bawled. I just feel when you show emotion, tears, anger wtc you give them an opportunity to exploit that's. I used to be much more ahem passionate about things when I was younger. Weirdly, the two people in my life who gave driven me the most crazy my mil and dad, now deceased, are the ones who have demonstrated best how to play the game. You will find a way round it! Better advice from others on here :-)

Limbo, funnily enough I feel I need support here with this because for once my 'opponent' is not the enemy after years and years of fighting tooth and nail.

It isn't a position I am used to and my 'training' might go against me in this instance.

This thread is amazing. Thank you all.

Lougle No wonder you have managed to navigate so well for your dds. You appear to have the best gift of all 'knowing when to quit'.

lougle Wed 27-Feb-13 19:35:10

Not sure I'm there, yet, Star -much easier to see when other people should quit than when your zoom on the camera is set as far forward as it can be wink

LimboLil Wed 27-Feb-13 20:02:05

Aw Starlight well fwiw I see and hear parents every day moaning about nothing at all, holding the teacher up, emailing the head because little Timmy has lost a mitten, that type of dross. I am a bit of a never complain, never explain type but when there is a big issue I try to tackle it head on, staying polite and firm etc. I agree with the person that said let some stuff go. I have defo seen some stuff worthy of complaint but I've stayed on side, I don't want the reputation of the nightmare, complaining mum, I've spotted quite a few of those and I can't take them seriously even though they may be justified. You somehow need to find a way of getting them to do what you want them to and if it goes will praise them for their fantastic idea, My mil is a master at this, it threw me for years til I realised what she was up to lol. I don't know if this helps in any way! I am seriously on the verge of an emotional wobble now!

Handywoman Thu 28-Feb-13 11:53:23

Lougle is right, of course, it depends on whether the disagreement is on a macro or micro level.

I always had a brilliant, informal relationship with SENCO re dd1's SpLD (Dyslexia). Until I went in to tell them that I was not happy with NC levels the same from Y3 to Y4 in maths. And told them dd was anxious in maths, storming off, tears at home. And wanted them to do something as tiny as REMOVE THE TEN MINUTE COUNTDOWN from the internet maths homework. At which point I was informed by same SENCO, in no uncertain terms, that 1) I was wrong about NC levels (er.... nope) and 2) dd1 could not possibly be anxious about maths because she is always calm and happy at school. Ergo....dd1's anxiety is being transferred from me and is nothing to do with her SpLD.

...which was closely followed by a letter from HT stating dd1 'has no SEN in maths' (direct contravention of Ed Psych's report which was very explicit on the relationship between dd1's cognitive profile and maths difficulty).

At this point I declared myself 'out' of the close, informal relationship, wrote a very succinct letter to the Governors, quoting passages from the SENCOP which led to a very formal meeting. We handled it in a calm, assertive manner and got a few things, erm, 'straightened out'. It did feel like a massive gamble, that everything might fall apart, but it was a success and we are now back in our brilliant, informal relationship. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe we are back on track.

So touchy-feely 'I feel this' methods are not always necessary. Sometimes direct action is called for, accompanied by balls of steel (polished and made all shiney by help, more often than not, from MNSN).

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 28-Feb-13 12:19:02

I'm not sure what the issue is but could you suggest a trial on the basis that they 'humour you' with it if it feels really important to you?

DS school is great but we do have problems with the TA and that makes it tough as you have to find a level of diplomacy you don't feel like showing so as not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

I go in and read with kids on the SEN register once a week and bring in biscuits to say thank you etc.

I also try and make staff see that these problems are hard for anyone - including me- so no one is failing if something doesn't magically work.

But it is hard. I think the pick your battle advice is a good one and I try to do that based on its effect on DS.

Gorta Thu 28-Feb-13 13:11:55

This thread is brilliant for me at the moment. I have to go in to collect my ds now who is in a unit. I will smile and be nice and pick my battle for another day. I was hoping to be humoured but maybe it will happen next year with a different teacher. I totally agree with the advice here it is always best to keep on side and it is how best to approach a situation. I definitely think my own social skills aren't great as much as l try. Anyway it's great to read all this worthwhile advice.

OMG, They were so nice!

And I was nice!

And it was all just very nice!!!

I had to concede on a couple of things. I had to listen to them give their concerns about ABA which I feel were a bit based on ignorance, - and let it go, - and then they conceded hugely and we've got a trial.

And then we all agreed that the school were doing a fab job and that ds was happy there and that it's great to work in partnership!

Thanks everyone.

PolterGoose Fri 01-Mar-13 20:35:49

Well done Star

lougle Fri 01-Mar-13 20:41:58

Well how fantastic! Well done, Star, it must have been really tough not to see the new school in the light of everything that has gone before.

inappropriatelyemployed Fri 01-Mar-13 20:45:44

Glad it went well!

moondog Fri 01-Mar-13 20:47:32

How wonderful.
It is so......peace inducing when people can just all get on and make allowances (on both sides) for the sake of the child in question.
Do you feel all nice and calm inside? smile

Well I'm anxious that the trial is done properly as seems to be the intention, but I am mindful of some things Mareeya said on another thread that actually, regardless, they have actually been prepared to do quite a bit so far.

But you know, being on the premises for a while (as I am not very often due to ds being taking in a taxi) and just chatting to passing staff/looking at their display cabinets and seeing staff interact with children, - well, it IS a good school - not a perfect one, but a good one.

I actually met with 3 very senior staff members and tbh I think they were as relieved as I was that we could reach and agreement. It was just so 'dfferent' from the last time I asked a school to keep a record/pass information.

Last school - without even looking at my template everyone in the room refused. This time, they did talk about the predictable 'time filling in forms takes away support from the child' thing but looked at mock-up, sighed a big sigh of relief at how little it demanded, specified a preference to report a couple of things differently and to redesign the template slightly and that was that.

I wonder just how long it will take for me to calm down about it all properly. Maybe never now.

inappropriatelyemployed Fri 01-Mar-13 21:24:16

It is hard and you have done well.

bochead Fri 01-Mar-13 21:27:49

This has been a really useful thread - when you've been in the trenches of a full on war a few years you kinda forget all the "normal reasonable people skills" afterwards.

In RL I'm quite socially isolated, so interpersonal skills from my previous life/career have gotten rusty to say the least. This thread pullled me up on a few things I used to do as a matter of course.

I needed a reminder before a school meeting today, so just wanted to thank all those who contributed!

MareeyaDolores Fri 01-Mar-13 21:35:30

The reminder was helpful here too. Having let school do their own thing unaided this year, went in thus week about a specific problem. Suggested a specific solution and knock me over with a goose feather of course it was implemented (with their spontaneous added improvements!) within 6 hours. And it solved ds's problem. Amazing grin

moondog Sat 02-Mar-13 08:57:16

When you can show staff that you can
1. improve communication between the home and school
2. make their lives easier
3. allow them to collect data (in a manner of minutes) that ultimately makes their lives a lot easier and reflects well on them and allows them to ensure that the dreaded IEPs are SMART then......

they usually come up trumps!!

When I have something to suggest to school staff I always emphasise hugely that one of the principal purposes is to capture all the (often unseen) hard work they do and that if they do it, they look great.

There's usually happy co-operation then.

tryingtokeepintune Sat 02-Mar-13 12:16:03

Ooh, thank you for reminding me to thank ds's teachers for their hardwork and willingness to work with suggestions from outside.

The school has been working hard on things I asked them to and lately the relationship seems to be me asking them to do more and more and it is time I thank them for their co-orperation and hardwork and ds's progress - before I ask them to help me implement some new tactics I learnt from Moondog's workshop grin.

Yes. Need to remember to thank them too. In fact I might put 'thanking days' on my calendar.

One thing we discussed was interesting. I asked them to take data on a strategy they were implementing and they asked me right back what benefit it would have TO ME. And you know what, I hadn't an answer.

I understood then that I didn't actually need to see the data myself, I just needed to know it was being taken so it didn't run out of control and that given they'd agree to take it, them not wanting to report to me wrt the detail and just update me at parents evenings was actually fair enough.

PipinJo Sat 02-Mar-13 12:51:12

Star positive reinforcement is so powerful as you know with your Ds works the same with the teachers too wink

zzzzz Sat 02-Mar-13 12:58:11

Definitely saying thank you has a huge impact for us.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Sat 02-Mar-13 13:12:13

Star - so pleased it went well. smile

After years of betrayed trust and fighting it is hard to do anything other than adopt battle mode. After all, most of us started off trusting the system and lived to bitterly regret it.

I have also been thinging of how things will be with the school when wink we win tribunal and I have to go back to trusting. I think you 'know' from the amount of shared understanding that informs any discussion or potential disagreement and whether or not the other side is defensive. In these instances it is possible to compromise and is like a breath of fresh air. It is hard to stop assuming that data will not be collected unless you insist that it is and relinquish control.

Trust is a relational concept. You are 'learning' that your trust can be reciprocated (and is not misplaced) and will then be able to teach (model) trust to your child.

Agh, it's all gone tits up. Oh well.......

PolterGoose Wed 06-Mar-13 16:30:23

Already shock

What's happened?

Well I got the outcome of what had been agreed, and it was the most half-hearted water-down version, to the extent it adds no value or benefit, just extra admin for the TA. sad

I sent an email hoping that the message had fallen apart internally but the response was a defence with 'well teachers are busy people'.

Like these things do, it took over half a term of frustration and anxiety on a daily basis to even get a meeting about it. Now I know that what was agreed has been met with a 'whatever!' and not taken seriously at all.

PolterGoose Thu 07-Mar-13 08:17:09


moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 10:16:04

Oh bugger.
Is this to do with home/school communication?
Can I help?
Email me if you want-I'm home all day clearing out my garage. hmm

sickofsocalledexperts Thu 07-Mar-13 10:48:37

I know A LOT of people fighting SSs for better communication in the home/school book, rather than just "Billy joined in well at circle time and enjoyed painting". Sadly, I don't know anyone who's cracked it, though the teachers may actually be DOING what Star wanted, just not reporting it. Most people find writing stuff down hard, particularly when kids are milling around. I find regular quick verbal updates better, but easier for me cos I am there every day (didnt get tranport). There is no perfect school, just ones that are way better than others, IMHO.

silverfrog Thu 07-Mar-13 10:59:07

dd1's last school had brilliant home/school communication. 2 A4 pages each day, broken down into areas (curriculum, food, self help, targets, etc) - got loads of info daily, and in fact sometimes struggled ot provide enough info in return.

her current school is variable. we have brilliant IEP/progress meetings still, but home/school book is a bit hit and miss. but then dd1 doesn't have that many issues at school (other than her ASD, of course grin wink), and when she does, they do report on those, so maybe for us it's more that she is on an even keel at the moment.

Yes. Home-school interaction, but also behaviour and also support.

Basically, I raised a few issues of deterioration before Christmas, which a SALT at the school confirmed was mirrored there. In particular, I was concerned about increasing disengagement of DS both from being involved in family activities and in sharing experiences (which he finds very difficult anyway).

The SALT came up with the idea of a behaviour book that they use for other albiet older children. She said that the teacher would write in one or two positive behaviours and one area for improvement to remember for next time, that we could reinforce at home.

I agreed to this, but what came home was a book with a morning, lunchtime and hometime comment, written by the TA at the end of the day.

I was asked how I was finding it and I mentioned that there had been some success in getting ds to comment ocassionally, but that I was disappointed because this was not how I was expecting it to work as this system does not reinforce ds with social praise at the time of the positive behaviour, and the praise isn't given by the person he needs to be encouraged to want to please, and that there are no comments about things we can practice at home.

The response was that ds is not capable enough to access a system like this.

My response was that ds is capable as having heard about this from the school I had introduced it in his swimming and tennis lessons with huge impact.

There was some back and forth about how they weren't an ABA school and couldn't offer that level of individualisation (although they implement the system with other older children) and then there was the stuff about doing things like this takes away the support from ds, and that writing in a book doesn't take 10 seconds, they have to find the book and the right page, and it could be missing and the child could have wandered off........

I gave them a simple template that incorporated the HS book and disbanded with the questions (which he was finding adversive at school and I could regenerate at home from the positive comments) - so, overall a reduced workload. I gave an example of 'Hey ds, what shall we tell mum?' followed by 'ds sat very quietly during story time' and they agreed that it wasn't much and to try it for 4 weeks.

That's where I thought we were.

Anyway, what we have got back is one thing from each lesson filled in by the TA that says things like 'ds did good listening in art'.

So it's the same as before but with 3 more comments. There is nothing to grip with ds, and we can't encourage and reinforce the positive relationship with the teacher delivering the lesson - which is his main area of need, listening, engaging with the teacher and learning in a group.

His SALT has identified his need to build a relationship with the person delivering the lesson as she has decided in her sessions that she needs to do a bit of 1:1 with him to build that relationship before trying to get him to do it in her group sessions.

When I questioned why the teachers hadn't filled it in, the response was 'well the TA just fills in what the teacher has commented to ds as they are too busy and have other lessons to go to'

But the TA's words and phrases are what is in the book so it isn't written the same way. i.e. 1. really good listening in art, 2. really good listening in numeracy It isn't done in the timely way required for social reinforcement for pleasing that particular member of staff to increase the chances of ds trying to get that praise again, - and the comments too unspecific to reinforce at home.

What I am upset about, is that they DO this for other children, but only because afaics, the behaviour is disruptive, rather than disengaging, so the teachers are rewarded by developing a good rapport with the child to be reinforced at home. As usual, if the behaviour is only detrimental for the child, it's not an issue.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 13:18:29

Make it easier for them.
Draw up a weekly timetable.
By each lesson put three faces like I showed you Sad/Neutral/Happy
Get him to take the book (his responsibility) to the teacher at the end of each lesson and get her to circle a face to equate with whatever it is you are trying to measure-engagement yes?

At home, go throguh them with him.
'Wow, Mrs Smith was so pleased with you in Art. Look!'
'Uh oh. What happened in PE. Mr Jones has given a sad face. Weren't you listening?'

All the teacher has to do is circle a face.
You can tot them up each week and have a criteria.
More than 20 faces say, and he gets to have a mammoth session with his tape measures or whatever floats his boat.

I'm sorry Moondog I tried that. I even told them that I would photocopy the paper and keep it up to day. I did a nice template with the timetable for eac day of the week.

They said they wanted to make the 'book' themselves, and they didn't want to 'rate' anything because that information should be shared in a general way at parents evening rather than daily but they would be prepared to count things to inform themselves (just not me)/.

But the thing is, I do need some 'hook' of information because ds would just completely make it up if I asked him such an open question.

by making the book, they just got an A4 book of lined paper and got the TA to draw a wonky grid for each day.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 13:30:04

It baffles me why they can't see the need for specific information/feedback that you can all share-child, parents and staff.
You can't 'rate' that stuff in retrospect as it just turns into a totally meaningless opinion based on faulty/selective memory.
If the 'rating' freaks them, just ask them to give a star if they feel he has been particularly great-then you can add up the stars.

I did someone like this with my ds when he was being frankly bloody naughty in school. The teacher was complaining about him so I drew up a weekly timetable, with 4 spaces each day (two morning and two afternoon).
If he had been reasonably well behaved he got a tick, if great, he got a star. If he had been naughty and had been on the naughty chair, he got a picture of the naughty chair (I provided all the pics and stickers.)

I told the teacher I would look at with him every day and also asked his childminder to look at it with him first thing when she got him from school.

Problem sorted in about 4 weeks. He's now as good as gold.

FGS, isn't your school a specialist school? hmm

lougle Thu 07-Mar-13 13:30:19

Can DS read?

Yes, but 'specialist' means even more removed from parents than mainstream I think, as it is an environment that you can't possibly have any understanding of since you didn't go to that kind of provision as a child yourself.

He really needs the teacher to say something nice, and then for me to go overboard about how much that teacher was impressed with whatever the behaviour was. It is that joint approach that has proven so successful in his after school clubs and frankly made it possible for him to attend without 1:1 support.

I just want to replicate it at school, using a system that they already use with other children.

I don't understand why this is such a mountain to climb. I really don't.

DS is on the cusp of being able to read, but has no chance with people's handwriting.

DS also needs the practice of word-finding, and sharing information that is true (if you don't have an idea he will make it up and it will be plausable).

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 13:41:43

'if you don't have an idea he will make it up and it will be plausable'

Of course
So many kids like that.
Hence the need for specifics for him to get his teeth into.
I feel like I live in a bloody parallel universe.I can't think of one teacher or TA out of dozens I work with who would not be more than happy to work with that system (and moreover be absolutely delighted to have such an enthusiastic parent on board.)

None of these things I raise are in his IEP (set without any parental input at all, on the basis that it isn't the whole package).

silverfrog Thu 07-Mar-13 13:47:28

Starlight, do you know that his teachers aren't going overboard with praise when due?

eg in the examples you've given - maybe ds was praised at the time for good listening in art/nice sitting at story time etc, and then you were given the info too?

I have to read between the lines of dd1's home/school book a lot, and have the added bonus of being able to see and chat briefly with tutors at pick up or drop off. combining the two, I can turn 'dd1 tried very hard at headsprout' into a 2/3 exchange conversation with dd1:

me: dd1, XXXX says you did Headsprout today
dd1: yes, I did (on a good day! - 'I don't want to talk about it' or 'I don't want to answer questions' on a bad day grin)
me: XXXX says you tried very hard
dd1: it was tricky
me: oh dear. but XXXX was very pleased.
dd1: yes, XXXX was pleased. she said 'well done, dd1'

<or similar>

over time, I have gleaned enough info from the communication book, along with info from IEP meetings, to knwo what it is she is finding tricky, and so only a brief comment in the communication book is needed for me to have all the info necessary to talk to dd1 about it.

I can't see anything which would lead you to suspect that his teachers aren't using social praise at the right time, unless they have told you they aren't.

'Starlight, do you know that his teachers aren't going overboard with praise when due?'

No. I'm sure that they are, but given that he has deteriorated recently, I suspect it isn't working and engagement is still the biggest barrier to his learning. I know that social praise is not given much value unless me or DH 'big it up' with enourmous impact being when I support ds reporting positive behaviours to DH.

Given that ds goes to school by taxi there is nothing except the written book to go by, so it is pretty essential that the key stuff is in there. Also, ds will get confused as to which particular comment that the teacher has made is THE ONE that is worthy of sharing at home, and THE ONE he needs to repeat in order to get the home report again iyswim.

We don't have IEP meetings. In fact we only have parent evenings once a term where you can book slots of no more than 5 minutes.

I could only dream of that level of conversation with ds that you have with your dd, about past experiences. Tape measures on the other hand.....

lougle Thu 07-Mar-13 14:11:59

The reason I ask about being able to read, is that DD1 can't read. She gets variable info in the home-school book. However, if, say, they say 'baked rhino biscuits today.' I turn that into a positive praise moment.

(DD1 love to prove me wrong, so I have to phrase everything negatively for maximum effect...)

So, I say 'DD1, come here a minute! I'm reading your book and your teacher says you baked rhino biscuits. Is this true?'

She'll say 'yep'

I say 'I can't believe that! Who baked those with you?


I bet you didn't do the hard work.

"Oh yes!"


So I'm wondering if it needs to be so specific as to be the exact words your DS heard? Or could you turn their report into something more meaningful with him?

I know at DD1's school, they barely have time to use the loo in the day, let alone giving detailed feedback each day. What they do write is often done in lunch breaks. I have to trust them that important stuff is communicated and give up a bit on the more day to day stuff.

One thing that worked for me, when DD1 was excellent at school but awful at home, was a photo of me looking happy and a photo of me looking sad. I had to send a photo in each day, and the teachers would ask why I had sent that photo in. DD1 hated the teachers knowing she'd been naughty at home.

Could that work in reverse?

No. A typical conversation about school with ds:

Me: Did you bake Rhino biscuits today?
DS: Yep
Me: I can't believe THAT? Who baked them with you?
DS: Mary
Me: But Mary doesn't work on Tuesdays.
DS: Okay Charlie.
Me: What did you do with Charlie?
DS: Played with trains
Me: No you didn't.
DS: Did skipping?
Me: er, maybe - who knows <gives up>

lougle Thu 07-Mar-13 14:24:57

Ahh, similar here, tbh. I capture the best moments to present to you grin

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 14:25:49

Star, which was exactly the reason why we changed over to the communication system I discussed with you.

Yes I know. We did use that system for almost half a year and it has been fairly successful, but I kind of offered it up as a compromise when the behaviour book thing was promised as I felt that was so urgent a thing to address and didn't want look like I was expecting multiple book completions.

I figured I could 'make' questions out of the positive behaviour comments easily enough and I put a positive behaviour from home at the top to be shared at school but that box seems not to have made the book grid drawn by the TA (despite being in my draft). I have not had an answer as to why that has been removed. Probably they just aren't interested in that because they are not willing participants in rest of it.

PolterGoose Thu 07-Mar-13 14:44:59

Most of what you are discussing is going completely over my head, but from reading what is going on it seems to me the biggest obstacle is the clearly humungous effort hmm involved in the teacher getting the book/sheet/whatever and filling it in contemporaneously so, what about asking them to use post-it notes, little packs of the little ones can be scattered around the teaching areas (out of reach of dc's), in teachers pockets, wherever, and then any positive interactions or whatever you are measuring can be jotted down, with the time and stuck in the book later.

Just a thought.

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Thu 07-Mar-13 14:58:27

Will they allow you in to observe, Star? My DS's SS used to welcome parents (and their young siblings) in regularly to either be a 'volunteer' or just a passive observer. The idea was to share good practice/strategies and to keep consistency between home and school. They also had a parent's room where you could just get a cup of tea (with a box of pre school toys) and talk to other parents. Even in the less welcoming SS they had a 2 way mirror type observation room cupboard.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 15:02:35

How lovely EJ.Nothing to hide there then.

They have a parent support group but it is facilitated by a member of staff and they charge for it.

They don't let parents in during lesson time.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 15:13:41

Charge??? shock

Poltergoose, thank you for that suggestion. That might be worth a go.

In a kind of 'DS excellent listening, let me write that down right now in your home book as mummy will be so pleased to hear about it' kind of way, which can then be stuck wherever, for the TA to collect and stick in the book.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 15:14:52

A lot of classrooms use a Post It system to keep track of good things happening throughout the day.

Yes. They charge.

So, it's not for me.

I think the group is seen by those delivering it as a service that parents can purchase with expertise on hand. I dunno. I never thought much about it before other than, er, no thanks, I have plenty of free support.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 15:17:08

That sounds well dodgy.
I'd be taking it up with the governers myself.

LOL. I'm not going to fall out with the school over anything that doesn't directly benefit my ds now am I?

But I suppose it says something about their perception of the relative balance of power and expertise.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 15:19:57

No. One has to pick one's battles.
It is still astounding however.
Morally reprehensible too.

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Thu 07-Mar-13 15:48:44

Wow! My DS's old school employs a family worker who sets up coffee mornings, parenting classes, SHARE sessions etc. They even provide a free crèche for these events. I know, I've been paid as a crèche leader a few times. The difference between schools is staggering. I knew his old school was good, but it's my only experience of SS so perhaps my perception of SSs is a bit overly positive.

It is a state school, though, perhaps that's some of the difference.

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 19:21:48

The charge is probably the external manifestation of an internal fight

such as the LA says SS should fund parent support sessions, or the NHS used to chip in and then pulled the funding, or something.

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 19:23:42

If a task is resisted,

it's simply too hard,
or associated with an aversive
or the motivator is insufficient / too delayed.

Which d'you think?

Probably a bit of 2 and 3.

But I think because the system hasn't been explained to the doers in terms of their gains. It's parents evening shortly. I have 5 minutes with each teacher. I bet they've not even bloody heard of the system as applied to ds.

I reckon 2 in terms of it wasn't their own idea (except it flippin was).

I dunno. I'm so fed up.

Maybe I can take him out of school once a week. Then I can do what I want with him, and home school.

My biggest stress is if they aren't meeting his needs, how can I make up the shortfall when he gets home after a long day (taxi picks him up at 7:30am) and is tired.

Has anyone ANY idea how I would go about doing THAT?

PolterGoose Thu 07-Mar-13 19:54:23

I have no idea how it would work with SS, but I think there is a growing community of people opting for flexi-schooling, might be worth a look, what time does he get home? Sounds like a very long day shock


currently he then goes swimming for a lesson at 4:30 and we get home by 5:30.

Time for a risky headsprout session, dinner and bed.

PolterGoose Thu 07-Mar-13 20:05:14

That is a seriously long day. And really doesn't give you any time to do much at all. I think I would explore the possibility of a mid-week day out of school if it were me but depends on how your ds would cope and how disruptive it might be generally confused

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 20:09:20

Leaves the house at 7:30.
I personally think it is really disruptive to remove children from the daily school setting for some of the week. Those children are never quite in the groove.

I would worry that he would be seen as a part-timer and staff would not take him as seriously.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 20:14:23

They will do exactly that and question your commitment to the school and him.

lougle Thu 07-Mar-13 20:21:33

I'm wondering if you are expecting too much of yourself, here, Star. If he is less engaged at school, that is for school to manage. They need to find a route into him. As long as you are reinforcing the message that school is a good place and so on, then really, I'm not sure how much you can do at home.

Perhaps a better approach would be for you to identify things that would reinforce them to him? So, perhaps if he was to take in a tape measure and you wrote in the book 'DS has been enjoying measuring things that are bigger than 1m tall.' Once the teacher showed interest in that, they would become a more important thing in his eyes, I'd imagine?

I'm not suggesting you haven't done this, by the way, just that it might be worth revisiting?

For example, DD1's school has a 'focussed conversation' around 6 weeks into the first term of each year. It's an opportunity to discuss the stretching targets that teachers will set for our children, but also an opportunity to say what we observe at home. I was able to tell the teacher that DD1 loves cooking and she tells Grandad when to stop if he pours flour onto the scale, etc. The teacher then uses that in her lesson planning, to tap into the interests of the children.

Grrrrrrr. I just don't know what to do. They're a good school, I'm pretty sure. And ds has made progress there, and he is safe there.

Having been on the journey I have, I realise that in terms of what can be expected that is pretty good going, but my god, it isn't anything like what I feel he should be entitled to, just as a basic provision. It could be so much better with very small concessions.

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 07-Mar-13 20:28:18

That is a very long day Star. My DS is much older and I know how difficult and unfair it can be to overload him after school - difficult for you too.

What would make you feel happier Star? I have flexi-schooled when necessary and it has been absolutely fine in short bursts. Would the school be happy with this? Would you feel happier and more in control? He is still very young.

Alot of the school day is padded out by stuff that children can easily afford to miss at that age - IMHO

PolterGoose Thu 07-Mar-13 20:31:43

Star bottom line is he is safe and settled and progressing. You have time to think this through slowly, there is no rush right now.

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 07-Mar-13 20:33:08

Yes, Polter is very sensible. I agree. Take your time and think through all the options and variables.

He's progressing, but not at the rate I feel he should be. That's quite significant.

I think the rate of progress is tied up hugely in his ability to engage and focus in lessons. I think staff can't possibly understand his capability if he hasn't engaged because he'll just come across as if he hasn't understood an instruction, when the reality is he wasn't listening.

I think it is such a central and key issue I'm really upset that this isn't being worked on by the school, despite the fact that it was his SALT that agreed the problem and proposed the solution, which is all that I am trying to get implemented.

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 20:43:22

You could keep him off for a couple of days with every sniffle

Perhaps I could flexi-school for the summer term only? I feel he is running out of time.

The thing is, the whole POINT of him being there is to learn how to learn in a group. So I'll be pulling him out of a group learning environment, to teach him how to learn in a group, without actually HAVING a group.

<head explodes>

drop his attendance?

His attendance is currently excellent (especially compared to many there who also have medical problems) so there is room for that.

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 20:46:17

I would be patient. Schools are like very demand-avoidant HFA dc, i think
They can be 'taught' but its often quicker and less stressy to gently facilitate them to arrive at the solution themselves

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 07-Mar-13 20:47:56

If you were only flexi schooling for part of the week, he would still get the benefit of group work etc

But how? <whines>

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 20:48:48

and its not sensible to waste the work you've put in to lose your LoonyMom label. Go in too enthusiastically, and they'll start to sympathise with Herts

lougle Thu 07-Mar-13 20:49:08

"I think staff can't possibly understand his capability if he hasn't engaged because he'll just come across as if he hasn't understood an instruction, when the reality is he wasn't listening."

Star, if they are a specialist school, this should be their bread and butter.

Of course engagement is essential, but that's like ASD/SN 101. Not something that they should need to be taught.

but he's not ENGAGING in the group work, which is why the necessity for the positive behaviour book, to give him social praise for attending/engaging, iyswim, that is backed up at home.

Though they don't want to do it. Although maybe they know nothing of it and it is the 'gatekeeper' that is refusing to allow it!?

Though they're not an ASD school.

They spend quite a bit of time insisting to all newcomers that they are not a school for primary ASD needs. It's kind of the deal I think and if ASD becomes the primary need, they're not slow in showing you an exit pass from my understanding.

Mareeya, - you know what? I think I well deserve my loonymom title after all, - if being 'sensible' means losing integrety.

Lougle You may well be right. Maybe they know what they are doing.

But I do too.

Why can't we reap the benefits that working in partnership should bring?

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 21:02:40

You're not losing integrity. Just delaying its public manifestation till you've trained the staff wink. You wouldn't show ds your programme for his learning to age 18, he wouldn't understand it (at the moment).

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 21:03:20

'The thing is, the whole POINT of him being there is to learn how to learn in a group. So I'll be pulling him out of a group learning environment, to teach him how to learn in a group, without actually HAVING a group'

Quite. Being in a setting having to rub along with other people is always preferable to being home alone with mum.
I have known some very odd folk who have pursued ABA home programmes for years, and who obsessively control everyone their child comes into contact with. That's not what life is about-for any of us.

I consider school for socialisation and home for most of the real meaty learning (maths, reading, handwriting and so on). It pisses me off no end because why should I have to do this stuff when someone else is paid to do it (on top of a 9-5 job helping scores of children who belong to other people's children) but I have long accepted that I am better equipped to understand about learning and teaching and presenting and ensuring information is retained than those whose job it is.


yes. I can see your point Moondog but WHERE is there time for that in his day?

Or do I cram the weekends and make a very organised schedule for the holidays (he has a bit more than state schools).

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 21:15:12

I know.
That is a jaw droppingly long day.
You have said there is a lot of good stuff gonig on there too. Presumably that outweighs the bad.
Even the best settings aren't perfect.
I am dubious about a lot of what my kids do and the competencies of those who teach them but they are a.) good people b.) try their best c.) work with me.

zzzzz Thu 07-Mar-13 21:17:51

I can't agree with this,

"Quite. Being in a setting having to rub along with other people is always preferable to being home alone with mum.
I have known some very odd folk who have pursued ABA home programmes for years, and who obsessively control everyone their child comes into contact with. That's not what life is about-for any of us. "

Institutional learning is not suited to everyone, nor do I believe it suited to most children. It is how we do things now, but it is not so long ago that the vast majority of children were not institutionalised for large parts of their lives.

Isolation is unlikely to lead to great social skills but HE children (I would say especially vulnerable challenged children) don't have to be isolated just because they are at home.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 21:20:51

Of course they don't.
It's much harder for people who HE though and harder still to arrange good social situations for kids with SN who are HE.

(I was home educated myself for a good few years, becasue we lived in a country that was so remote, our lessons were flown into us form another country!)

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 07-Mar-13 21:34:56

I agree zzzz. It doesn't have to be an isolating process and it doesn't have to be forever.

Schools are not for everyone and school 'socialisation' can be a very artificial and weird form of socialization that bares very little connection to the skills needed in real life.

DS can be very sociable but he is going to find that school is not always a helpful social environment for him.

Some HE kids I know get daily group interaction in a variety of settings

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 07-Mar-13 21:36:25

Have a look to see what is around for HE in your area Star or just flexi for the odd afternoon which will surely make no difference in terms of what he is missing but will give you a chance to work on skills.

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 21:54:03

There's home educating, by choice or necessity

and there's the extreme choice of barely-leave-the-home brainwashing (I DON'T mean those whose dc are having a sensory-agoraphobic-breakdown phase)

The second is linked with extreme oddness, but is probably a symptom rather than a cause.

zzzzz Thu 07-Mar-13 21:56:42

It's been indescribably easier for us because we have our old boy back, not dreadful despair child. We aren't undoing 5 days difficulty every weekend and we don't need to filter through senco, TA and CT to get things done that support him.

Same age socialising is difficult, but I do wonder if groups of 25 people of the same age ever socialise together outside institutionalised education, so is it worth struggling so hard to be educated in a group.

HE isn't easy. I find it exhausting, but it is ideal for ds at this stage. I so wish I had the guts to do it rather than being forced into it by school breaking down.

zzzzz Thu 07-Mar-13 21:58:57

Are you saying I am extremely odd grin or ds is? Mareeeya

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 22:02:05

you're alright
I only think entirely NT families are weird

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 07-Mar-13 22:06:11

Yes, indeed those NT families drive me insane!

zzzzz Thu 07-Mar-13 22:06:13

Well truth to tell Odd would sit ok with me as a descriptor.

I think HE has been revelation to me.

I have no idea why his taxi picks him up at 7:30am. School doesn't start until 8:50 and it is only 12mins drive away hmm

BUT, and this is a strange but really. DS LOVES his taxi-mates. They are all older children and indulge his interests, as well as repremand him when appropriate, and look after him.

I have absolutely NO feedback from that and yet, I know it is a good experience for him.

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 22:10:11

I've seen HE be amazing, and I've seen it go really wrong as well sad. And included under 'going wrong' are some of the thousands of parents who take on full-day support and education from 16-25.

Having your SN dc simply kicked out of school (at 16, or maybe before) with no skills, their mental health shot to pieces, no diagnosis and maybe one interview with a connexions worker who says 'have you thought about trying a literacy course' is an even bigger scandal than the appalling 5-16 provision.

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 07-Mar-13 22:12:27

I agree but where HE is wrong for some and works for others, so does school.

At least as many children are failed by being in a crap system not working for them because of some dogma that school is best, as are being failed by being out of it.

justaboutalittlefrazzled Thu 07-Mar-13 22:22:32

I think you would be bonkers to start taking him out one day a week Star.

I really do.

You have at the end of the day/week a very tired child and I am not entirely sure that the lack of enthusiasm at the weekend that you are seeing for joint activities isn't partly down to exhaustion. I accept your concern that group stuff is not good at school either, but if they are not ready to listen to your suggestions then this is not a crisis issue and you have time to think on it further/sort it out.

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Unless you are totally disillusioned with the school as a whole.

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 22:32:47

The taxi/bus ride.
Utterlu underrated part of the day.
Some of those drivers/escorts are the best thing to happen to those kids, primarily because they aren't part of the professional SEN army.
What on earth are they doing for nearly 90 minutes though before school?
Could oyu take him yourself one or two days a week? Then you get to see the staff in a relaxed way.

MareeyaDolores Thu 07-Mar-13 22:37:15

yy moondog

Some truly amazing people work as bus escorts
I think the best equation is common sense plus wide life experience, multiplied by kindness personified

I have heard other parents complain about the escorts but tbh ds' has a rare ability with the kids in her charge, and she and the driver managed to locate a chocolate tape measure for his birthday! shock

moondog Thu 07-Mar-13 22:58:13

How lovely!
I remember a totally non PC unreconstructed middle aged taxi driver (all fags and dangly air fresheners) gruffly asking me to teach him some Makaton signs.

I'd have had him over some SEN drone for my kid any day.

lougle Thu 07-Mar-13 23:01:08

DD's escort and driver are the most amazing people in her life. The driver changed a few weeks ago, and the new one is a really gentle man. He said 'we don't listen to the radio...we listen to DD1 and <DD1's classmate> because they're the best double-act grin

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 07-Mar-13 23:41:42

Interesting, sorry, I will get flamed for this but I frankly don't care.

Apologies Star this is your thread but I am annoyed and I don't very often get like this.

I post about problems at school I get constantly slated by Moondog who tells me I need to remove my child whatever our circumstances and that the school is shit despite me saying that the school are doing their best.

You, however, should keep your child where he is and work with everyone when no one seems interested in working with you.

Why the difference?

My school are open door. They allow me to sit in school, work with my child whenever I like and are now recruiting for a new TA after explaining to me why they have delayed on it. But then not everyone has all the answers

I don't get the difference.

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 07-Mar-13 23:43:13

I'm not interested in hearing them either. I just wanted to point that out.

justaboutalittlefrazzled Thu 07-Mar-13 23:48:41

IE: the reason I posted to Star saying she shouldn't remove her child part-time is that I think it is the worst of both worlds and will completely destroy her relationship with the school. Just to clarify.

I think that it is too soon for Star to conclude there is no way forward with this school.

I think the chances are the school are deliberately not following her advice because they don't want to start too much focus on the ASD-type issues which her son has, because they are a language disorder school. If Star says he is being failed because they are not addressing his issues, then the obvious answer is "he shouldn't be here then."
But it's early days to conclude it won't work.

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Thu 07-Mar-13 23:59:41

The only thing wrong with your DS's school, IE, is the TA. But that is such a biggy, unfortunately. Haven't got a clue how to get shot of her, unfortunately.

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