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That teachers do NOT always get it right.

(179 Posts)
callherwillow Tue 19-Jul-16 09:15:40

1. This is not teacher bashing. Teacher bashing would be criticising people just because they are teachers.

2. I am a teacher. I know children misunderstand things, a lot. I know what can sound awful was actually nothing after establishing the facts. I would never recommend a parent goes in 'guns blazing.'

3. I know teachers work hard. I know it can be thankless task, knackering, the odd mistake can be forgiven and indeed expected and so on and so forth.

Now to the crux.

Whenever someone complains about a teacher on here there are so many replies that assume the parent is unreasonable, that assume the teacher is right (because they are a teacher) and it's getting to the stage where I know opening a thread where someone asks about a teacher (which will happen a lot as so many have school age children) will have numerous pages insisting that whatever they are concerned about either didn't happen at all or that if it did, it's fine and excused on the basis teachers work hard.


Teachers lie. I had a teacher tell a lie about me that could have been very serious indeed. Luckily, enough students were brave enough (and it was brave of them) to be truthful. The teacher in question was their head of year and it was a horribly awkward situation. I have known numerous Headteachers and senior teachers lie. They started their careers as ordinary classroom teachers. Do not kid yourselves teachers won't lie. They might lie out of awkwardness, out of anxiety, out of misplaced loyalty or just to be spiteful.

Teachers do sometimes take against a particular child. I haven't seen this happen a lot - only a handful of times - but it does happen. Again I am NOT saying if you think this is the case to go in 'guns blazing.' I am saying that while it's rare and probably is not the case, it is nonetheless a possibility.

Teachers don't know everything, that should be obvious. However, if you have real concerns about the education your child is getting, it does not stand that because the teacher has a degree and a teaching qualification that they know everything. I nearly missed out on my university place due to not being taught a vital part of the curriculum on one of my A levels. I am sure the teacher did not mean this to happen, I am sure they felt really bad about it. But still, if the university hadn't let me in anyway, that would have altered the course of my life. It certainly affected some other students in the class. It is acceptable to ask questions, to ask on here first and then raise concerns with the teacher. It is not acceptable for a load of ITS A TEACHER DON'T BE DAFT NOW RUN ALONG.

Teachers sometimes make a bad judgement. Nine times out of ten it's probably just a normal human error and I'd say let it go. If it's upsetting your child - raise it. A good teacher won't mind talking to you and sorting out whatever the issue is.

It's the end of term. Teachers for the most part do a brilliant job, but amongst them as well as the kind, intelligent, supportive and enthusiastic are the sinister, cruel, lying, bullying and incompetent. Rare? Yes. Never heard of? No.

Mumsnet is a great resource for sharing ideas about children's education and I think parents should be able to enquire about it without angry teachers slating them for having the gall to ask.

winniemcgoogan Tue 19-Jul-16 09:18:12

I have actually had teachers where they would encourage the children bullying me to do it all the more and make fun of me in front of the other children but no one believes me they always think teachers would never do that but they do I've seen it happening

ghostyslovesheep Tue 19-Jul-16 09:19:09

Well of course they can be - but most threads about teachers here tend to be about them not doing something a child is perfectly able to do or that's the parents responsibility

Or their spelling hmm

SetPhasersTaeMalkie Tue 19-Jul-16 09:20:41

It's the end of term. Everyone's tired, no one is at their best.

Chill out and enjoy your holiday.

t4gnut Tue 19-Jul-16 09:21:53

I think you'll find parents don't always get it right either, but you really don't want to encourage this bunch of helicopter she bears to go roaring at the school every time their special snowflake stubs their little toe.

Back in my day if you got a clip round the ear at school (well slap on the wrist with a ruler) and went home whining to your parents you'd get another one because there must have been a reason for the first one.

steppemum Tue 19-Jul-16 09:23:46

interesting post OP.
I am a teacher, but haven't been in classroom for years.

What I see on here actually is far more outrage against schools and people telling the OP to go in and complain, than people saying the teacher can't be wrong.

There is a middle ground, and it is sometimes posted as a breath of fresh air and common sense.

Go in and ask, don't be angry, find out the facts, work out what is really happening. Then work Together with the school for the best of your child.

If the complaint is genuine, put it in writing, be clear, be polite, be firm and continue to take it to the next level (HT, governors etc) until you are satisfied.

steppemum Tue 19-Jul-16 09:25:39

yes, and the expectation of parents is very high. That the teacher will give their child everything their child needs all the time.

Well, good luck with that, there are 30 in the class and limited resources and a stack of pointless paperwork, and the teacher is often just doing the best they can. Which may mean in the case of your child only 80% of what they need.

callherwillow Tue 19-Jul-16 09:32:43

See maybe I'm reading the wrong threads, but to me, every time someone expresses a concern about a teacher it seems to get jumped on with OH MY GOSH TEACHER BASHING I AM QUITTING I CANNOT COPE.

Yeah, it's the end of term, but this is pretty consistent throughout the year in my experience.

NickiFury Tue 19-Jul-16 09:35:01

I agree OP. I am currently thinking of the thread where the boy was refused a drink of water by a teacher on his school trip and the posts determining that he was naughty and manipulative and was obviously covering something up by trying to divert attention by pretending to be upset over the water. Absolutely disgusting, no consideration could be given that perhaps it was a selfish, spiteful act on the part of the teacher. It's not confined to that thread either. The shutting down of posters with teacher/school issues is far more prevalent on here than teachers getting a hard time in my experience, as though they're untouchable Angels a lot of the time - nauseating.

Fwiw my daughter's school is fab and her teaching staff this year have been second to none; approachable, incisive when it comes to bullying, smiley and sympathetic. My daughter has had her best year yet - not easy as she has autism, so no axe to grind there.

My son's last experience at school however involved him being assaulted by his head teacher and repeatedly labelled naughty and manipulative by all concerned (he has autism too and was non verbal at the time) so I have experience of both sides.

Some people are nasty twats and some of them are teachers.

NickiFury Tue 19-Jul-16 09:35:33

You're not reading the wrong threads. You're right.

BurningBridges Tue 19-Jul-16 09:37:29

Neither of my children are getting anything like 80% of what they need - they are both in secondary. The teaching (and adult behaviour) in their primary schools was generally good, sometimes brilliant. But in secondary we have come up against a wall of lies and deceit, ranging from teachers who watched porn in class suddenly leaving the country to what we call locally "The Disappeared" teachers whose convictions suddenly come out/cases go to court. They go to different schools, the schools have different problems but its just variations on a theme.

In those schools, good teachers wither and die inside, if they can recruit them in the first place. There are serious problems within teaching, and we should educate ourselves as to what they are.

callherwillow Tue 19-Jul-16 09:38:30

some people are nasty twats and some of them are teachers

Bang on.

And add to that - some people are decent, pleasant, ordinary people capable of making a mistake.

I don't think a parent who hears their son or daughter come home worried or upset, listens to them and asks on Mumsnet about it is a bad parent or teacher bashing. A bad parent would say 'don't be ridiculous James, run along, of course your teacher did not do/say that.'

Yet on here, even asking about it is a bad, bad thing to do.

JudyCoolibar Tue 19-Jul-16 09:41:02

I agree, OP. And moans about people in other occupations never seem to draw anything like the same amount of outrage. I completely accept that teachers are fallible like everyone else and don't expect them to be plaster saints. I just wish people wouldn't automatically come out with rubbish about "those parents" every time someone dares to be mildly critical.

DiggersRest Tue 19-Jul-16 09:41:05

I agree OP. MN has a way of making parents feel like the teacher, if not right, shouldn't be judged etc (l was on the thread about a dc that went missing for 2 hours in school). Just like anything, there are great teachers and not so great.

I was bullied by a teacher and my DF sorted it out (male teacher, 30 years ago!)

callherwillow Tue 19-Jul-16 09:43:58

I had a bully for a teacher as well. I know damn well it happens. I also know the behaviour of children can be hideous, and I really sympathise with the job teachers have. Obviously I do. It doesn't mean we should all jump to the assumption that teachers are blameless and children are awful and parents are - well, what do they know hmm

I have upset children a handful of times - never on purpose - and I would rather every time a parent contacting me nicely to explain and so I can sort it properly rather than have the kid upset for the rest of the year over a misunderstanding.

Primaryteach87 Tue 19-Jul-16 09:48:15

YANBU - but I've also been at the receiving end of some hugely abusive parents (I'm a parent too!).

So yes, there are some 'bad' teachers but there are also some 'bad' parents. The difference is 'bad' parents often have the ability to do serious mental and economic harm to the teacher. Whereas parents have the ability to move their child or make complaints in the case of a 'bad' teacher.
There's a huge power imbalance, which makes teachers who are working 60-70 hours a week, trying to be a good parent and who genuinely care feel like leaving the whole profession.
I had a colleague who lost their job over a very minor miscommunication which parents took to the governors. They were a great teacher. It should have been an apology and move on type of issue.

It should go without saying that we're all human and make mistakes. Parents make mistakes and so do teachers. But the current climate is creating a culture where minor mistakes are career threatening. That's daft. I wouldn't report a parent to social services for forgetting a book bag! Anyway, rant over...

t4gnut Tue 19-Jul-16 09:48:32

99.9999% of the time its excessive parental fussing.

0.0001% of the time its a genuine mistake.

bakeoffcake Tue 19-Jul-16 09:50:42

I agree with you, I've worked in schools and it astonishes me that people would think that ALL teachers are lovely, hardworking and professional.

MOST of them are, a few are bastards, just like the population in general.

Over the years I've seen all the things you describe in your OP.

GETTINGLIKEMYMOTHER Tue 19-Jul-16 09:50:52

OK, it's a long time ago now, but I certainly knew of one teacher who evidently disliked a particular child and would pick on them, or say something nasty, and not apparently care if it aroused sniggering in other pupils.
One girl who was picked on like this still haunts me now and then.

And at my senior school, the absolute worst little bully - the little Queen Bee of a coven of bitchy little bullies - went on to be a primary teacher. I have often thought of any poor kids she went on to teach and shuddered for them. I have thought it would just serve her right if any children she might have were bullied, not that I'd wish that on anyone's child.

Having said that, the vast majority of teachers I encountered were fine, and a few were outstanding.

nanetterose Tue 19-Jul-16 09:52:35

Thank you so much for this op .
I'm a TA , you have explained things very well indeed.
You've been really fair too.
It needed to be said especially here.


bakeoffcake Tue 19-Jul-16 09:53:13


You are stating that it is never the teacher at fault?

You must live in a fantasy world.

NickiFury Tue 19-Jul-16 09:59:41

99.9999% of the time its excessive parental fussing.

0.0001% of the time its a genuine mistake.


Ionacat Tue 19-Jul-16 10:00:46

Teachers get it wrong sometimes - I've done so on a few occasions, always apologised and would want to know if I'd upset a pupil, (preferably from the parent rather than the head or deputy having to investigate because a parent has gone storming off straight to the head.)

However I think the problem with the threads on here tends to be the emotive language used - livid, furious, etc. which then tends to lead to a very polarised debate with some posters saying complain, call Ofsted and others saying the teacher is right and the child can't possibly be right and more emotive language e.g. special snowflake etc. The middle ground then tends to get lost - yes go and speak/ring to the teacher and find what their side of the story and depending on their response take it from there.
The bottom line is if you are unhappy or unsure speak to the school - it could be something over nothing, but the vast majority of schools/teachers would rather you had a polite calm word rather than it upset you and your child for a year or more.

IfNotNowThenWhenever Tue 19-Jul-16 10:14:28

I agree OP. It's really hard to criticise anything a teacher does on here.
I have 2 good friends who are teachers, and what I find really interesting is that as the years go by they get more and more "us and them"about the parents. One of my friends has no children, and we have had many conversations about situations in her school. I think her expectations of the parents can be really unrealistic actually. School is her life (she's very conscientious ) but she doesn't seem to register that for working (London) parents with a few kids, it's going to be harder to be as organised and on the ball as she wants.
My other teacher friend does have young dc, and she felt a bit shell shocked when they started school to be on the other side of the relationship. She was particularly struck by how patronised and dismissed she felt by the teachers. ..until she "came out" as one herself!
Most teachers I have come accross have been fine, some great, but vindictive teachers exist. Lazy teachers exist. Dishonest teachers exist.
And yes, they work long hours (as do many people) and they have a lot of pressure on them, but it seems to me that the pressure is mainly from management, and government directives, rather than parents?
In my son's school parents seem to be very deferential to teachers. The only time I have had to complain about something it was a bullying issue, and I felt the school were brushing it under the carpet. The teacher glad handled me, and minimised her head off, until I used the B word and started on about school policy etc, after which is was dealt with (sort of).
Schools actually expect quite a lot from parents too. I help with construction homework, I make costumes, I send in ingredients, I deal with the tears and tantrums of trying to support maths homework, I still feel like I'm not quite working to expectations!
And teachers should be able to bloody spell!

ppeatfruit Tue 19-Jul-16 10:21:49

NO YOU ARE DEFINITELY NOT BEING UNREASONABLE I speak as a very experienced EY teacher and parent of 3. I have known many very unpleasant teachers and TAs.

IME sad there are some teachers and TAs who choose EYs to deliberately bully little children sad Coercive Control is now outlawed in domestic situations, it should be applied to schools too.

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