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Or was this teacher being unreasonable?

(23 Posts)
napoleonsnose Thu 13-Feb-14 20:12:46

We have been to my son's parents evening tonight (year 9) and in all his subjects he is a model student and foing in his current performance and effort he should be on target for A*, A and B grades in his GCSEs. All the teachers were really positive about his work except for one, his Science teacher. He has done some good level 8 work as homework, but a couple of tests he has done in class have been marked at a level 6 and the teacher was quite harsh about this. He told my son, who is a sensitive chap, that these kinds of grades really weren't good enough and that he needed to apply himself and try much harder. This was said in a particularly nasty way as well. I'm all for telling kids things they might not necessarily want to hear, but there are definitely ways of doing it which this certainly wasn't. DS finds Science more difficult than other subjects and would be (as we would also be) happy to get a B. He also tries really hard, so I know he's not just being lazy. My DS got quite upset in front of us and the teacher after being told this and I came away feeling a bit angry tbh. WIBU to contact the school and complain about this? I spoke to another parent as well who also had had a similar experience so I know its not me just being oversensitive. This teacher is quite young and has only been at the school since DS was in year 7. To compound the problem he is also DS form tutor.

I told DS that we were incredibly proud of how well he is doing and that you cannot always be good at everything. I'm really cross with this teacher for making him feel like this and upsetting him. I was getting a bit teary-eyed on DS behalf as well. DS does not intend to do anything with science after school so in my opinion a B is more than satisfactory.

PleaseNoScar Thu 13-Feb-14 20:18:41

I think you can fairly say to a teacher. "I appreciate that DS is not currently performing to his potential in Science, but the aggressive/hectoring tone that you used has had 100% the wrong impact. He was upset & demoralised and your reading of what motivates him was far off the mark". The maybe ask then to work to repair the damage they have done.

Stopmithering Thu 13-Feb-14 20:22:12

Teacher is probably under massive pressure for all his / her students to achieve their target levels.
Teacher is young - probably hasn't quite got the experience to know how to adapt comments to students as needs be.
If it were me, I'm not sure it warrants a complaint, but I might make further contact on the phone, either with him / her to discuss it, or with his / her head of department.
Hope your DS is ok now. Hopefully he has a good relationship otherwise with this teacher.

bodygoingsouth Thu 13-Feb-14 20:22:26

yep email him what pleaseNoScar said.

he sounds nasty.

Ginnytonic82 Thu 13-Feb-14 20:37:22

He will have been given a target for your Ds to achieve, mainly derived from primary school SATs, some lower school testing and how well he does in maths. If your Ds is performing well and is an A*/A student in other subjects, and produced level 8 homework, I imagine he's in the top set? The teacher will have been told that your Ds getting B isn't good enough. If a child has potential he will have had it drilled into him to push that child as much as possible. I have told students (very good students) that good isn't good enough before, it isn't a task I enjoy but sometimes I've got too. If you really felt he was very out of order I'm surprised you didn't talk to him there and then. All in all though I think you'd have an even bigger problem if he wasn't interested in trying to push your son to do better.

LurkingNineToFive Thu 13-Feb-14 20:41:26

I think the mystery of why he finds science a harder subject is solved.
He's probably not a great teacher and is feeling the pressure of his students not getting the grades they should.

Coldlightofday Thu 13-Feb-14 20:44:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fifi669 Thu 13-Feb-14 20:46:51

I think a quiet word is the most that would be justified. Parents and teachers need to keep a united front where possible. He wasn't being nasty, maybe just a little blunt.

PansOnFire Thu 13-Feb-14 20:51:36

I'd contact school but don't complain or you may find your access to assistance for your DS is cut short. I'd ask to speak to his head of department or head of year and request advice about how to help him improve. It's not useful to know that your DS is underachieving without detailed information of the areas and subjects in science that he is not making progress in. Mention the manner in which your DS was given this news has upset him as an aside, then you're being proactive about what school will see as the issue. Act on the advice given, wait until the next assessment and then make contact again.

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 13-Feb-14 20:56:41

LurkingNineToFive
"I think the mystery of why he finds science a harder subject is solved.
He's probably not a great teacher and is feeling the pressure of his students not getting the grades they should."

And you get this from one post, once again its the teachers fault. FFS

PinkPeanuts Thu 13-Feb-14 20:57:38

Lurking, even good teachers are feel the pressure of students not getting the grades they should. This is part of the problem, if a student is not getting the grades they should, it automatically becomes the teachers fault rather than drilling down into the problem and discovering what could be done on both sides to fix it.

OP, if the teacher spoke like this in front of you then, I suspect it's a personality thing. Some people are harsher than others when trying to be honest IYSWIM. It might be worth arranging to meet with the teacher again without the time constraint of a 5 minute appointment. He then might be able to clarify exactly what was meant and give you a bigger picture of where your sons strengths lie and what he can do to improve? Just a thought smile

Coldlightofday Thu 13-Feb-14 20:58:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AcrylicPlexiglass Thu 13-Feb-14 21:06:29

I would treat it in a low key way and not do any complaining. You've already made it clear to your son that you're on his side. I would leave it there. If your son is quite sensitive he needs to learn not to take minor twatishness and slightly unfair comments to heart too much. Also, bear in mind that your son is a very unusual year 9 student. Year 9 is absolutely notorious for children being lazy, disruptive and pushing boundaries. Many year 9s need lots of warning about the likely consequences of this attitude continuing into their GCSE years. It is possible that Mr Horrible the Science Teacher decided to incorporate a "work harder and knuckle down or you ain't gonna get any exams" lecture into all his year 9 parent consultations.

balia Thu 13-Feb-14 21:10:35

If he was trying his hardest and this just wasn't his subject, then YANBU but that would show in all his science work, surely? My DD found Science a real challenge and really had to work at it, and she was a straight A student in all her other subjects. But if he can get level 8 in homework, though (which is really good, obvs, quite outstanding in terms of ability) then it would seem very odd that his test results were level 6. Put in context, that would be a regression of over 2 years. If he was one of those kids who find exam pressure a real challenge, then that would show across the board. I'd be much more concerned with why the test results are so poor compared to homework rather than pick fault with the teacher's tone.

Purplepoodle Thu 13-Feb-14 21:34:07

I may be off topic and misunderstood but why was he sat with you during a parent teacher meeting

Mumoftwoyoungkids Thu 13-Feb-14 22:01:05

balia If his exams were better than his coursework I'd agree with you but it is possible to get better coursework results than you "natural ability" by working really really hard. (And also both possible and common to get much worse on coursework by being a total slacker.) I had a friend who got her GCSE maths up to a C this way.

MoominIsGoingToBeAMumEEEEK Thu 13-Feb-14 22:08:45

I had this issue - constantly shouted at, both in class and parents evening, by my science teacher because I'd been put in top set for everything based on Year 6 SATs, which meant I sat triple science and higher tier for everything. I was coming top of the class in English, Welsh, humanities, languages, but science and maths I really struggled.

The teacher will probably have a target for your DS that is unrealistic, because these 'targets' seem to be for groups - not for individuals based on what they can do, in my experience. Guessing if he's a younger teacher, he won't quite realise that.

The difference was, I had a lovely, supportive Maths teacher who recognised I had dyscalculia and was never harsh or pushy in his comments. My science teachers made me hate lessons and even less inclined to try because they told me I wouldn't amount to anything.

I don't think it warrants a formal complaint but maybe just a word about how best to address the issues? Then you're making the effort, showing that you care, but also getting the best outcome for your DS smile

(and I was doing well in homework because my dad is a science buff and thanks to the wonders of the internet/friends who I repaid by helping them with humanities homework grin ... succeeding in homework doesn't negate science just not being his subject )

redrubyindigo Thu 13-Feb-14 22:10:22

Ask around other parents in his class. Have they all had the same response? If not then maybe your child is maybe struggling with the basics and needs a little more tuition.

If all parents have had the same response then maybe have a word with the teacher.

Nanny0gg Thu 13-Feb-14 22:38:59

I may be off topic and misunderstood but why was he sat with you during a parent teacher meeting

That is perfectly normal now. It is (rightly, imo) felt that talking about a child is nowhere near as productive as including them and their parents together in the conversation.

ilovedogsandcats Thu 13-Feb-14 22:43:13

Does he receive help to do his homework?

ilovedogsandcats Thu 13-Feb-14 22:43:13

Does he receive help to do his homework?

Salmotrutta Thu 13-Feb-14 22:53:40

Is it possible that your child just isn't a scientific thinker OP?

Maybe the teacher thinks that pushing your DC will force him to be a "scientist".

I teach secondary and it's quite clear which pupils show more aptitude in certain areas.

Mind you, up here in Scotland, we are not expected to "meet targets" in the way it seems to happen south of the Border.

We are expected to help pupils achieve their potential but we are not expected to pressurise pupils into reaching "targets".

Not everyone is academic.

napoleonsnose Sat 15-Feb-14 19:10:38

Thanks all. Apparently a lot of other pupils got the same treatment at parents' evening so I think its the teacher who has a certain amount of bluntness about him rather than DS being a lazy so and so.

The grades we were shown at parents' evening were for one piece of homework and one in class test so I hardly think that it is a fair comparison of his overall achievement. This is the same teacher who at a form tutor meeting said he would expect DS to have far more merit marks than he did and this was also disappointing. Both my DC have confirmed that badly behaved children get more because if they do behave then this is rewarded by issuing merit marks. A child who is always well-behaved does not tend to get so many as they are doing nothing out of the ordinary.

Anyway, I'm going to email and say that I didn't find the meeting a valuable experience and that I found his bluntness a bit off. I also think that that kind of negativity is not the best way to encourage any child to do well. Teacher wants to meet with DS after half-term to 'discuss' his attainment which DS is now worried about as he thinks he will get a stern talking to. I will insist that this does not happen without me being present. I am prepared to acknowledge that he is a relatively new teacher who plainly wants to meet his targets but I think he needs to be told that perhaps a less harsh stance would actually be better for all. I am usually a really relaxed parent - I have never felt the need to interfere in my kids education or go running to the school at the slightest thing, but this has really annoyed me!

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