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To complain to school?

(27 Posts)
schoolwoestoday Wed 01-Mar-17 13:49:02

Ok dd moved to a new school in September and is now in her option chosen subjects. It is a small school.

I have contacted school three times since September which does seem a lot BUT dd does have sen and reason 1 was to the school office as they had her attendance much lower than it should have been (should have been 100%) and I wanted to check she had been actually in school!

Reason 2 was to a subject teacher as there had been mention of a possible change of one of her main options and dd did not understand so I wanted to find out what was happening given she needs it.

A few months ago dd started to tell me that one of her subject teachers was never in and that there was a lot of disruption in the other teacher lesson of the same subject with people being silly and the teacher was spending a large amount of time lecturing the class about behaviour.
DD having sensory issues finds the disruptive behaviour very difficult and cannot focus.

Around this time dds grades dropped slightly so I was a little concerned but I was under the impression the missing teacher was a short term issue and I was aware the other teacher had a personal issue and did not really want to ply more pressure on them at that time by complaining as actually I really like the teacher and again it seemed a short term matter.

Anyway I got dds latest term report and her grade is awful. She has gone from a very good grade to failing. I was very worried about this especially given information I had heard from elsewhere about dropping grades and I had heard through the rumour mill things that concerned me in regards to this.

DD also got a low attitude to the subject in this lesson which really concerned me as it is VERY out of character and I had been told weeks previously how good her behaviour was and in fact she was the 'class star' so obviously if dd is not focusing I want to know.

Anyway I emailed school so they could respond in their own time with my concerns, I was emailed and told that the teacher who has been missing has indeed been teaching elsewhere for the last six months but is coming back soon and promised that they were taking the concern about the grade drop seriously and the head of subject which is a core subject would call me to discuss this on a certain day. I made sure I was home that day so I could take the call only no one called.

This is the second time now that they have not called me back when promised (the first time I did not even ask them to call me they insisted and then did not call!) and given that dd is now failing a core subject which will prevent her being able to move on to college without retaking it I am feeling a bit cross.

So do I complain or is it one of those oh they are very busy and I am asking too much things?

BackforGood Wed 01-Mar-17 23:54:14

Personally I wouldn't focus my energy on complaining about the fact you weren't phoned on the day you were expecting it, but would focus on what the real issue is.
There are dozens of completely valid reasons why you didn't get a call that day, and, in truth that really isn't the issue.
I would phone back, explain the situation, and ask if there was a good time to call and speak to the person you need to speak to, or if it would be better for you to make an appointment and come in.
Presumably if your dd has SEN, then you will have a relationship with the SENCo and could contact them in your usual manner?
When is your dd's Support Plan due for review ?

BeaderBird Thu 02-Mar-17 04:10:21

Before complaining I suggest you have a think about the daily role of anyone working in education.

Also, whether there has been a change of teacher or not should there not be an emphasis on you talking to your daughter about why her grades/performance has dropped rather than talking to her teacher about it first?

I think the fact that you waited in all day for a phone call shows that you are overly invested in this issue and you need some perspective. Grades fluctuate according to topic, season, friendship fallouts, teacher absence. I'd focus on what you can do to support DD moving on and up from this.

schoolwoestoday Thu 02-Mar-17 07:19:58

Beaderbird I am an ex HLTA with cover supervision. I know exactly what happens in a school day. I know how busy it is. I also know that our school operated on the fact that nothing in a report should come as a surprise. Not just post a report that has a dramatic change in it to arrive in half term.

Of course I have spoken to dd, she repeated that one teacher is never there (has a dual teaching position and has been teaching at another venue for most of the last six months) and the other class has the teacher spend half the lesson telling the class that they are ruining everyone's education.

It is not just grades fluctuating a bit the grades have gone from the equivalent of going from a B to an E grade in her GCSE years. Something that will massively affect whether she gets into college or not.

I definitely want to know if dd is suddenly not focusing. I especially want to know why given that for the last decade of school I have never had any complaints about her behaviour or anything but she is a quiet girl who struggles but gets on with her work and always behaves, she was prefect at her previous school so I want to know if she is not focusing so that I can deal with it and find why she has gone from a top effort/attitude to the level just above red in that one lesson when everything else is still at top effort in every other subject.

I worked from home instead of the office so I could take that call as I view my child going from a B to an E very worrying.

I am sorry you feel that is being over invested. If she was in primary school then I would feel I was but GCSE years?

schoolwoestoday Thu 02-Mar-17 07:23:07

Backforgood she used to be on School action plus but when she moved to secondary they did not follow this. In her new school basically the senco rang me to ask what her major issues where, asked for all the paperwork in regards to her diagnoses' and just calls me as and when she needs to i.e if dd is struggling, if she has sorted extra time for exams, if she has got dd equipment to help her etc.

humblesims Thu 02-Mar-17 07:36:01

I disagree with the PP and think that you should contact the school again and speak to her form tutor/head of house. If her grades are failing and her position re college is potentially suffering and they are not ringing you back then they are falling short. Yes they are busy but it is important that they communicate with you to help you DD. I think ringing the school three times since September is not unreasonable or fussy.

manicinsomniac Thu 02-Mar-17 07:46:36

I don't think it's unreasonable to expect contact at all, tbh.

I don't there a single parent of any of the children in any of my classes who would be happy to receive such a sudden drop in grades without an explanation. If there is a change like that, our head likes us to pre-empt the report with an offer of a meeting and, if we don't do that, I would expect to be setting up a meeting at the parent's request shortly after them receiving the report.

I would phone them and ask if you can book a meeting with any staff you want to see. You won't be 'that' parent. You're not storming in, you're requesting a meeting through proper channels. I have at least one parental meeting a week plus huge numbers of emails and informal chats and think nothing of it. Senior management have them daily.

Trifleorbust Thu 02-Mar-17 07:46:56

You are right to be concerned about her result. Unfortunately both teacher supply issues and behavioural problems are normal in schools, and one contributes to the other. You should be informed about your daughter's behaviour but she needs to be the one to improve it.

schoolwoestoday Thu 02-Mar-17 08:05:51

Fully get that Trifle, if she is misbehaving I will be very cross and she will be dealt with especially as it is so out of character.

I have found the generic form which tells you what each attitude and effort grade means and it says a lot of things which revolve around things like:

I am trying to not give up easily
I am trying to work with no help
I sometimes ask questions
I usually try to finish tasks but don't have the confidence to finish without help
I am starting to learn from my mistakes
I don't like being a leader
I don't like to get involved in group tasks

So it would seem her low effort grade is mostly down to things related to that trait.

Renniehorta Thu 02-Mar-17 08:09:49

Pp you say that your dd's attendance has been much lower than desired so has this had an effect? Changing school midway through secondary can also be very disruptive.

Are we talking about maths? If the teacher has been away teaching at another school I sound like he/she is a very good teacher who has been seconded to work in another school with greater difficulties. So presumably when he/she returns your dd will get some v good teaching. It is sad state of affairs but good maths teachers are a scarce resource. Many teachers with few or none maths qualifications find themselves timetabled for maths. I have to confess it has happened to me. I have a 3 in maths CSE.

I would get an appointment to talk to the relevant subject head. It is not a situation that you can leave to drift.

schoolwoestoday Thu 02-Mar-17 08:23:00

Rennie, no they had dds attendance incorrect.

I.e I had put her on the bus every morning and she had been in school everyday and her attendance should have been 100% but her autumn term report came home with a much lower level. It took me weeks to find out that she had actually been in school at that time and they had it wrong and had not been missing from school which was a worry given she has Sen and I did not know if she had been spending time God knows where when she should have been in school.

They never explained just eventually corrected it (although I think dd may have missed out on the points you get for attendance each week) so I am presuming that it had been copied and pasted incorrectly on to her autumn report as there was also a lot of HE does x, HE does y and another child's report had the wrong child's name copied and pasted several times in it which I know is just one of those things.

Peanutbutterrules Thu 02-Mar-17 08:26:18

You're not demanding too much attention.

Get back in touch, explain that you were expecting a call and need to speak/see someone to discuss this big drop in grades. Don't be rude, don't complain, just be firm.

You are right to be worried and it needs attention from everyone concerned.

schoolwoestoday Thu 02-Mar-17 08:26:45

Just to clarify it is a school which only starts from a certain age so everyone started new in her year when she did rather than her having to go into a new setting with everyone with established relationships.

In other areas and socially compared to before she is doing amazing. She moved from her old school because of serious bullying including threats with a weapon which saw a pupil expelled, daily threats from a much older child and she had started school refusal.

manicinsomniac Thu 02-Mar-17 09:16:56

From your description of the progress reports and the size, it sounds like it might be a private school?

If it is then you have the right to make appointments with as many staff as often as you like. We can't say no if it's in any way reasonable. You're paying for a service and if it's not being delivered it gets addressed.

Trifleorbust Thu 02-Mar-17 09:25:51

Related to which trait, OP?

Those comments sound typical of a struggling child and also (if you don't mind me saying) very basic and "primary" as targets, if you compare to students I teach from Y9 on. What support does she get?

schoolwoestoday Thu 02-Mar-17 09:54:19

Sorry Trifle, I meant after reading the sheet it sounds like the lower effort grade in that subject is related to things which affect her because of her sen. It is a generic sheet with targets on which explains what children assigned to each level of effort and attitude will be achieving.

She receives overlays and extra time in exams, she has no extra class assistance other than general teacher help. She used to have a shared TA in class at primary between a small handful of kids and one to one sessions with a TA at primary. This all stopped as her old school teacher did not 'believe in IEPs' In her old secondary school she was at complete breaking point, school refusing, awful anxiety and we had to battle constantly for help and to make sure that teachers actually knew about her Sen as they were not informing staff members.

Trifleorbust Thu 02-Mar-17 10:23:28

I'd never give a child a low effort grade because of factors obviously relating to SN. Sometimes - if I am honest - the two are interlinked and it is hard to disentangle them. Perhaps ask the teacher why she gave her the low effort grade?

Trifleorbust Thu 02-Mar-17 10:24:31

Sorry, clearly that is what you are going to do! I would couch it as a question, not a complaint.

schoolwoestoday Thu 02-Mar-17 11:51:11

Thanks all,
Yes I was not going to complain about dds effort level being low. That is something I can find out the reason for and address.

Ironically she has text me to say she is watching a non maths related film in maths at the moment... No idea what it is or if it is maths related but if it is not then sigh...

OneWithTheForce Thu 02-Mar-17 12:06:20

You don't need to be concerned with what the daily routine of the staff is! It's irrelevant to the issue. Your concerns are valid and I would be doing exactly as you are, you need to know what the issue is, whether that be DD or the class or the subject or the teacher. TBH it sounds like this class/subject is being badly run and I would be thinking of hiring a private tutor for that subject as DD's college application depends on her grade.

schoolwoestoday Thu 02-Mar-17 12:30:09

Oh it gets better. They are currently in maths watching Good Will hunting which is a) not about maths and b) in a mixed age class of 13 -15 year olds.

schoolwoestoday Thu 02-Mar-17 12:33:18

And is a 15 rating.

Oly5 Thu 02-Mar-17 12:41:08

I'd be furious and asking for an appointment with the headteacher

Write down all your concerns and stress it's not good enough

Blissx Thu 02-Mar-17 13:31:20

Good Will Hunting is about a Maths genius but otherwise I agree, a GCSE class should not be watching this unless it is the last lesson of term at Christmas maybe. But considering the new GCSE 9-1 content, they shouldn't have any time spare in Year 10!!

YANBU and I am shocked at the first couple of responses. From what you have written, there are some serious shortcomings here and I bet that your DD is not the only one suffering. Whether or not the school is at fault is by the by. You have every right to bring all of this up but seeing as phone calls are not working, can you continue going down the email route. To be honest, I always prefer that anyway as that is a paper trail.

schoolwoestoday Thu 02-Mar-17 14:34:14

Ok this is now being sorted. Three phone calls from school in ten minutes...

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