To be unsure about the headteacher speaking to my child alone?

(46 Posts)
freemanbatch Wed 08-Jun-16 16:50:50

On the last day before half term my daughter 8 came home from school out of sorts and at teatime when I asked the kids about their day, as I do every day, she broke down in tears and cried for a few minutes before she finally calmed down enough to explain what was wrong.

She told me that at lunchtime there had been nothing vegetarian left for school dinners when she got there so she had had to have fish. There were also no potatoes left do she had to have chips, which she doesn't like, and there only green beans left, which again she doesn't like. She said that she'd accepted the dinner she was given and then gone to the 'salad bar' knowing that there would lots of that left and she could make a meal out of that.

She chose some bread and nachos off the salad bar as well as lots of cucumber, tomatoes, peppers and salad leaves. Her plate was really full but she was confident she'd not be hungry despite not liking the set meal she'd been given.

When she sat down to the table with her friends one of the other children commented on how much food she had and one of the dinner ladies overheard and turned around to have a look at which point, my daughter told me, the dinner lady told her not to be so greedy and to think of other children before she reached across the table and removed a handful of salad from my daughters plate and took it and threw it in the bin.

In her tears My daughter said 'it made no sense because putting it in the bin meant no one could have it so how I that thinking of others?' Which made me think she wasn't just making up a story.

I took the decision to write to the school and ask what had actually happened. I said that I knew children's accounts weren't always reliable so I wanted to know the view of the incident from the adult involved. I also said that I was aware that it would be quite a time after the incident before they could ask the dinner lady, due to holiday, but I just wanted to know what she remembered of the incident.

The head teacher spoke to me yesterday, first day back, to say she was going to look into it that day and asked how my daughter was. I said she was fine but asked that someone check that she had actually went and had dinner that day because she has a history of missing her lunch, and no one noticing, and I was concerned she might try it given how upset she had been on the last day.

Today I received a letter telling me that the dinner lady denys the incident took place, states she only picked up food off the table that my daughter had dropped and that anything nasty was said by children. The letter also says that the head has spoken to my daughter and my daughter agrees that the dinner lady is telling the truth.

So to my question (sorry this is so long) AIBU to feel slightly uncomfortable about the head teacher speaking to my daughter about something I had raised with the school without my permission, presence or even my knowledge? The idea of them summoning my daughter to the heads office to be quizzed about something that happened nearly two weeks ago makes me really uncomfortable especially because I hadn't 'complained' or asked for the dinner lady's head on platter I'd simply asked for the adult involved to give her account of what happened.

storminabuttercup Wed 08-Jun-16 16:53:34

It seems a strange thing for DD to make up doesn't it?

Skittlesss Wed 08-Jun-16 16:57:21

The seems a strange thing to make up, so there must be some truth in it!

I wouldn't be bothered about the head speaking to your DD. They were just trying to get to the bottom of it. At least they sound to have looked into things.

MrsJayy Wed 08-Jun-16 16:57:51

Its a bit of a story for an 8year old to make up there is a lot of detail saying that when Dd was 8 or 9 she said she got no dinner at school 2 different dinner ladies said she had taken a school packed lunch not a clue why she lied,

MrsJayy Wed 08-Jun-16 16:59:47

Going to HT office isnt really unusual though they are trying to work out what happened because you made them aware of the incident

ApostrophesMatter Wed 08-Jun-16 17:01:04

Not unusual for the HT to ask your DD what happened - it's what she'd have to do after getting your letter. A bit naïve of the HT to believe the dinner lady, though.

Newes Wed 08-Jun-16 17:02:10

I wouldn't expect to be present if a Headteacher wanted to speak to my child about an incident at school. I would trust them to try and clarify what had gone on.

JinRamen Wed 08-Jun-16 17:05:47

I know that my children would agree and go along with whatever the head said, even if it wasn't true or they didn't agree. Because he is the head, you. Know? And you have to do as told? This happened A LOT with my son! (Who would then come home upset again!)

That1950sMum Wed 08-Jun-16 17:08:02

Certainly not unusual for the Head to talk to a child to try to get to the bottom of what happened. You did raise it. How did you expect it to be sorted out?

Have you talked to your DD about why she has a history of missing lunch and why she turned up so late that most of the food was gone?

chickenowner Wed 08-Jun-16 17:08:46

The HT said that she would look into it - to me that would definitely mean that she would speak to your daughter about the incident.

freemanbatch Wed 08-Jun-16 17:09:22

I thought it was an odd thing to make up which is why I wanted find out from the adults involved what had happened rather than just leave it.

I think the thing that makes me uncomfortable about the head questioning my daughter without me present or even knowing is a) she apparently changed her whole story and now agrees with the dinner lady's version of events which seems a big change from what she told me originally. B) my daughter was so upset about it that it took her a long time into the evening to tell me so I'm not sure she'd be brave/confident enough to 'tell on' the dinner lady to the head teacher and c) we had a complete nightmare of an evening/night last night and I can't help feeling that had I known this issue had been raised with her by the school yesterday I would probably have handled her upset last night differently.

I know they may have felt the need to investigate things, I guess I would just have liked to know my daughter had been questioned about it rather than assuming that it was an adult issue if you see what I mean.

pigsDOfly Wed 08-Jun-16 17:13:33

Seems a bit odd that your DD would be so upset if the incident didn't happen the way she described it.

And yes, the dinner lady would say that would say something like that wouldn't she., rather than, oh yes, I acted like a bully towards an eight year old child, so I think the HT is being a bit easily persuaded if she just accepts that.

Also think you DD might have felt a bit intimidated and just agreed that the dinner lady's version of events was true so can understand why you're not happy you weren't present, although I imagine it's not unusual for HT to speak to children alone.

Not sure you're going to get to the bottom of it tbh.

freemanbatch Wed 08-Jun-16 17:14:32

She's missed lunch on occasions because she's been playing alone and not heard the call and then not known what to do when she's realised.

She has anxiety issues due to the DV she lived with I her early years and finds it hard to contradict authority figures or to speak up when she's upset. She's come a long way since we escaped though so we keep working on it :-)

FourEyesGood Wed 08-Jun-16 17:15:49

The headteacher talked to your daughter; it wasn't a police interview. There was no need for you to be present.

However, it's extremely poor that your daughter was not given a decent vegetarian option.

pigsDOfly Wed 08-Jun-16 17:16:01

Sorry about the garbled sentence at beginning of second paragraph should be: yes, the dinner lady would say something like that, wouldn't she

Vajazzler Wed 08-Jun-16 17:22:52

Having spent the last school year working in a primary school I can completely believe that 1) the dinner lady said such a thing, 2) the dinner lady denied it to the head and that 3) the head believed the dinner lady over the child and then bullied the child into thinking/saying they were wrong.
Where there any of your dd's friends there to witness it who could corroborate her story?

0dfod Wed 08-Jun-16 17:23:33

Two things that stand out for me Op is

1) she is a vegetarian, therefore the school must keep her a veggi option. I would not eat from a plate that had meat on it, really abusive in my eyes.

2) yes I think due to her anxiety around authority figures due to past dv issues you really should have been present when the head teacher spoke to her.

I would be emailing my concerns to the head and requesting a meeting, I would also be prepared to escalate it further. I see the lunchtime assistants behaviour as being abusive and bullying.

Your poor dd (((hugs))) and cake to her

blueskywithclouds Wed 08-Jun-16 17:24:21

If your daughter finds it hard to speak to authority figures, it could be that she simply agreed with what the dinner lady said as she felt uncomfortable talking to the head. It takes a lot of confidence for a child to contradict an adult. The head did nothing wrong speaking to your daughter alone. I would think the dinner lady will watch what she does as the complaint was made.

AugustaFinkNottle Wed 08-Jun-16 17:28:00

I don't think it's necessarily wrong for the head to talk to her. However, I do think any head who knows his job should be aware that in that situation a child is liable to say what she thinks the head wants to hear or whatever will get her out of the room most quickly. It would have been better if, totally neutrally, a teacher she knows well and trusts had asked her to write down what happened.

I had something similar when my ds was attacked in school. The school dealt with it very poorly, and amongst other matters when I complained I asked that the attacker be moved into other groups for the subjects where he was in the same group as ds. DS hadn't asked me to do that but he did say he didn't like having to be in the same room with this child day after day. When the head replied to my complaint, he said he'd called DS in and asked about this and DS said he didn't mind. DS told me that he'd been completely taken by surprise when he was called in and felt extremely uncomfortable, and just got the strong impression from the head's manner and way he phrased the question that it wasn't going to be taken well if he said he didn't want to be in the same class group as the attacker. As I pointed out to the head, I didn't think it was something he needed to talk to DS about at all, he should have had enough basic human empathy to work out that keeping an attacker and victim apart was a good idea, and/or that the average teenager wasn't likely to want to be seen to be making a fuss. I did feel that the man shouldn't have been a headteacher if he couldn't work that out.

mygrandchildrenrock Wed 08-Jun-16 17:28:04

I'm sure the Headteacher is used to talking to children, shy, quiet ones etc. Headteacher's aren't usually gullible but can only work with what they are told. Maybe your DD can't remember accurately, maybe it's no longer a big thing for her. Certainly the Headteacher talking to her shouldn't be a bit thing, I frequently have children in my office for a chat, not just because there is an issue.

MinnowAndTheBear Wed 08-Jun-16 17:28:27

Could it be that she was just so upset about being called out as greedy, that she mixed up the detail about the food being on her plate/the table?

fascicle Wed 08-Jun-16 17:29:58

I'd be more concerned about the mismatch between the school's version and your daughter's. Have you asked your daughter about her meeting with the headteacher? It seems very odd, especially the bit in the letter about your daughter agreeing that the dinner lady was telling the truth. I'd expect the head teacher to present it as a misunderstanding, if she felt your daughter's account lacked credibility (I agree with Mrs Jayy - a lot of detail in her account - seems unlikely that your daughter got it all wrong). Also, your daughter's account was from the day itself - the dinner lady has been asked for her version more than a week later. Sounds like your daughter might have been persuaded to agree with the dinner lady's version of events.

Agree with Oddfod - school needs to ensure there is a vegetarian option available for your daughter in future.

FourEyesGood Wed 08-Jun-16 17:30:34

Sorry; missed the DV background detail. It would, in that case, have been sensible for the head to have invited you in for the conversation with your daughter, and your concerns now seem entirely valid.

freemanbatch Wed 08-Jun-16 17:31:55

There were other children present when the incident happened and I know one of them told their mum about it because the mum contacted me to check my daughter was ok.

I'm sure my daughter was telling the truth and has probably now agreed with the head teacher through her anxiety and that's why she was so out of sorts yesterday evening/night.

The school were at the eye of the storm in belong us escape the DV a few years ago and have been very supportive up until recently when I get the feeling they think it's been long enough for her, and me and the other two, to be 'over it' and we should just get on with life.

I think my big feeling is that I didn't handle how she was very well last night and had I known the head teacher had spoken to her I'd have handled that all differently.

Alibobbob Wed 08-Jun-16 17:32:37

My daughter would be uncomfortable when questioned by the head and would agree with anything hat was said just to get out of the situation.

The dinner lady won't admit to being a bully.

I would ask the head that if the dinner ladys' version of events was true why didn't she speak to the children who made the unkind comments/who was bullying your daughter?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now