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AIBU to ask WTF is going on with the UK state education system?

(130 Posts)
pootleperkinandposy22 Wed 13-Dec-17 11:23:25

OK it’s a long one...Have things really changed this much since I went to school in the eighties? Secondary school has been a baptism of fire for my kids.
I am so sick of all of this. People tell me that our school is bad and we should move our kids but I don’t see any better schools. OFSTED graded this school GOOD. What does that say about OFSTED? Anyone who thinks theirs is better-do you REALLY know what it is like? What about the teachers- what do you think?

I do not think that the education system is fit for purpose. Our kids are forced to go there and now that most of them are academies, there is no come back for their failings. Teachers train for the incentives and leave as fast as they can, getting jobs in the private sector and lifelong learning sector where they know they will have an easier time.
There is a constant lack of teachers, too many overpaid temporary staff who are not appropriately qualified and many teachers off sick (probably with stress!).
They are hot house exam factories who fudge the figures by applying pressure to get children to drop subjects they think they might fail and pressuring the more able to take more and more exams.

This is designed to make parents withdraw any children who do not fit the requirements for great exam results and pay for private schools or Home educate. How many people can do those things?

It is going the same way as the NHS...

The government is incredibly short sighted. They are storing up huge problems for the future by failing so many children who will still go on the unemployment register (albeit a couple of years later) or commit crime/suicide.

Why is it that the government is so out of touch with reality? Is it because most of our ministers sit in their ivory towers just assuming to know what to do with the masses? Most of them AFAIK attended private schools so have absolutely no idea what is going on.

Why should these incompetents be allowed to run the country just because they went to the top schools?

Senior leadership team are unreachable, overpaid sales people; only present at recruitment events and performances and any problems are deflected on to the over worked heads of year.

Behaviour and discipline are appalling. ‘Problem’ kids (you know- the arsonists/one who bring knives in to school/ones who continually beat up the younger ones) are brushed aside and ignored or given ‘special’ responsibilities to help build their self –esteem. The hard working bread and butter kids who just try to get on with it are ignored and not given any privileges or rewards. This creates resentment amongst the kids and demotivates the ones who would have the ability to achieve.

One of my DC’s is in the so-called top set. Not through giftedness but just because they want to work and most of the others do not. That appears to be the only requirement. DH thinks this will protect them from the disruptive kids but some difficult kids (who cannot cope with the work!) have been put in this set now too, to encourage them to try. This doesn’t work. It just stops ALL of them from learning!

Btw even if my DC could get in to a Grammar school, firstly we are uncomfortable with the pressure there and secondly, there aren’t any Grammar schools in this area. Why is that also a postcode lottery?

There are looked after kids who are completely messed up and understandably bring their problems to school. Self-harming is a daily occurrence, they are crying out for help, emotional blackmailing their friends and trying to kill themselves on a regular basis.
The teachers really don’t care about this. All they say is that they know about it and tell the concerned kids to go away and get on with their work!

The teachers are over stretched to the point of desensitisation for the children, they seem to see so many problems that they just do not care anymore.

These children are also physically and emotionally abusive to the other children. They call out continually in class, swearing at the teachers and goading the kids and generally being disruptive.
They are not punished quote :-
“...because they are in care and have a hard enough life anyway”

This is the only way these children are helped? By cutting them some slack instead of helping them with their problems? What about the other children?

I spoke to a social worker friend of mine and she said that the child who tried to kill themselves would probably be seeing a psychiatrist once a week anyway and there is only so much they can do and that they don’t know how to put these broken children back together again.

Why do children who are distressed as much as this, have to go to school and be forced to learn? How could you possibly concentrate on school work when you are so unhappy you are trying to take your own life?

Can any teachers comment-is this highly unusual to see children doing this or is it seen in most schools? I’m trying to see if it is just a really poor school who cannot deal with these problems effectively.

As for the kids with SEN. We have seen friends whose DC’s support has been withdrawn with the excuse that these kids have made so much progress that they do not need the help anymore. This is simply not true. They struggle, fail and are miserable and act out causing further disruption to the school.

The excuse every time is there is not enough money. Why not? Stop paying temporary staff over inflated wages. Perhaps stop subsidising the bars in parliament and use that money. How about stop giving MPs pay rises and pay them the same as public sector workers. That should help!

Arrgh! Ok rant over. I am just disappointed. Is it possible to have a decent state education and enjoy it too? Is our school just really really bad and we are very unlucky or is this just what we all have to put up with?

If you got this far then thank you for reading!

AssignedPuuurfectAtBirth Wed 13-Dec-17 11:25:31

There is no UK schools system. Different in NI and Scotland. V different

SylviaTietjens Wed 13-Dec-17 11:32:28

I agree with you wholeheartedly. My ds is only in yr1 but it’s absolute shambles. The teachers are running around like headless chickens because the expectations are so high. I help out with reading a couple of days a week and at one point the other week the teacher was desperately trying to get the kids to do something about owls in between them all going off for flu jabs and practising nativity. In the end she just wrote a sentence on the board and said ‘just copy that, please, as quick as you can.’ It was shambles.

I live in a village with a primary school in the village square. It is a Victorian building and there is nowhere they can expand it to. They have already built on the playground so kids go over to the play in field every break time. 20 houses were built last year, planning permission just approved for another 35. There is nowhere for these kids to go to school. Everything is just so shortsighted. Primary schools have all been hugely oversubscribed in this area for several years. There is no sign of them doing any form of preparation for when these kids go on to secondary schools yet they know the numbers that will be going already.

Codlet Wed 13-Dec-17 11:35:08

This isn’t my experience at all! I’ve got three kids at state school (two at primary and one at secondary) and we’ve been pleased with both schools.

Hausfrauenvy Wed 13-Dec-17 11:36:02

As a teacher I do really care if someone is self harming or threatening suicide. On the most part I can't fix this problem but I do try and I do care.

Postagestamppat Wed 13-Dec-17 11:37:58

I am so sorry that your kiss are in that type of school. This government is cutting resources for everything and they start to effect each other so that clear causes can't be seen. Parents working very hard with less time for their kids, families splitting up because of money problems, teenage anxiety with unnecessary exam stress, social care cuts, NHS cuts, education cuts. It's all a huge mess that will take decades to sort out if it ever is.

IsabelleSE19 Wed 13-Dec-17 11:38:25

Our school seems to be getting worse as well, with high turnover of teachers and of course the financial problems that most are suffering.

It really pisses me off that the govt cuts and cuts (while claiming to be giving more money than ever before!), and successive incompetent education secretaries who haven't the first clue about what they are doing decide to 'put their own stamp on it' by dicking around with everything every few years so the poor teachers and children don't know whether they're coming or going. And while the powers-that-be fiddle about, countless children are going through the system and suffering from the actions of these vanity-project box-ticking wastes of space at the top.

I don't think politicians who might be voted out or reshuffled every couple of years should have so much power over children's lives.

Goodness, it is a very rantable subject, isn't it? angry

babba2014 Wed 13-Dec-17 11:40:44

Ah, I agree with you. Hence why I'll home educate, just as you said. We'll learn life, and not just stuff for exams. We live very frugally. It's okay though. We're happy. For me, I have a religion, which taught me from a young age that all is not well. Whilst my primary education was fantastic, I saw the downhill route from when I was at secondary in the 2000s.
It's with everything else in the world. The whole blue planet 2 with the plastic, the animals getting affected, the torture against the poor all over the world. For me, knowing there is another life which is better is what keeps me going. Yes this isn't appealing to many nowadays but when the truth of the world opens up it only brings it closer to heart.

I guess as humans we have to just try our best in what is going downhill. Times will get better, no doubt but that will be after a huge huge effort.

Ive seen my niece look absolutely shattered from school. She's 5! As soon as she gets in the entire board is full of work they need to crack on with. At 5, I remember playing dress up and story time.

Poor kids, poor teachers and then us parents who want the best too but are overwhelmed too.

QuiteLikeable Wed 13-Dec-17 11:41:20

Being on MN and reading about what goes on in some English schools makes me SO glad to live in Scotland.

ghostyslovesheets Wed 13-Dec-17 11:42:17

as and education worker with looked after children I do take issue with some of your points! LAC kids are not universally badly behaved and trust me they get excluded alot! (part of my job is fighting exclusions)

but I do agree with other points - especially the points about academies - being outside of LEA control is a big issue - I envisage many going bankrupt soon and a big mess being left for the LEA to pick up

OFSTED I take with a huge pinch of salt

Teachers are burnt out and overworked and young NQT's and those coming through teach first ect are sold something that's not real - that's why they leave. (friends son was told he would be a path finder and be there to change things - once in post he was told to shut up and get on with his job - no one wanted his opinions or ideas)

the system is a mess - it fails kids with SEND it fails kids with mental health issues, it fails good kids who want to work - because it's stopped valuing the people on the front line

babba2014 Wed 13-Dec-17 11:43:38

Also this guy Joe Halewood who has been talked about on here before pointed out social housing and HA CEOs getting paid a huge amount.
I live in a rubbish part of the UK. You don't need much money to buy a fancy property. His salary was over £150000. Homes could have been built with some of that. Nothing we can do about this though.

Misspilly88 Wed 13-Dec-17 11:44:32

I'm one of those people who trained as a teacher as i have a passion for teaching. I was ready to work hard but ran for the hills as soon as I could. You're right. We'll be home educating.

EtInTerraPax Wed 13-Dec-17 11:44:32

Hmm, well perhaps if you say where you are people could suggest good schools?
As it is you just sound like a thinly-disguised political agitator, tbh.

If you're so unhappy, why on earth haven't you moved your children?

SallySphinx Wed 13-Dec-17 11:49:41

I home ed too, school was useless, my DC's learn far more at home and we also have fun.

theEagleIsLost Wed 13-Dec-17 11:50:35

I have three DC - done two state primaries, across England and Wales, and one state secondary and apart from few niggles and concerns I've been pleased with the schools and the teachers. I’ve been on the whole pretty impressed with their teachers and their dedication.

The secondary school does best it can - it does have concerning teacher shortages and I am worried about lesson disruption for eldest - mixed ability class for a lot of subjects with really bad behaviour. I do worry about early taking of exams not being in the student’s interests but on the whole staffs are approachable and the school management is really trying to do best for all the students despite a lack of support from a sadly large majority of parents.

I went to school in late 80/90 at good schools that I had a truely awful time at - bullying rife. I think my children have had one the whole better experinces than I did.

Codlet Wed 13-Dec-17 11:53:35

Yes, I agree, my DC’s experience has been much better than it was for me and my brother in the 80s.

number1wang Wed 13-Dec-17 11:54:24

Yes OP all of what you say is normal (unless your kids are at an amazing school and you’ve forked out for an extremely expensive house in the catchment area - private schooling by stealth). Your NHS analogy is right too.

The looked after children that you mention are given highest priority for school selection which is doubly bad for them, because parents resent them for jumping the queue and taking up teacher time if they have behavioural problems, but they still don’t get what they actually need, which is a package of stable and loving care, mental health support, and continuity of social services/ key worker until at least their mid-20s, and their life prospects remain many times worse than for most kids.

Your kids - the compliant reasonably well achieving children - will get lost in a resource-strapped system.

No politician will chuck big money at schools because everyone is cash strapped, nobody can afford to pay substantially higher taxes, and as you say the government can be shortsighted about it because the ramifications for society will take longer to show than one parliamentary election cycle.

IME Most parents when asked about what’s wrong with schools will go for the easy target - the troubled kids who (really need and) take all the attention, instead of looking at the disgraceful way education is deprioritised at a political level.

Kazzyhoward Wed 13-Dec-17 11:56:06

Has it really been any better? At my comp in the 70s, it wasn't any different to today's school. Lots of supply teachers covering absent teachers (always the same ones). Lots of crap teachers who couldn't teach. Awful discipline disrupting lessons. Bullying rife. "Initiatives" that were forgotten within a few weeks. What my son tells me of his school today sounds an awful lot like my school in the 70s. Was there a "golden time" when things were better? 80s? 90s?

Namechanger5555 Wed 13-Dec-17 11:57:37

slyvia that teacher sounds just like me.
Hence now I'm posting on here.

Kitsandkids Wed 13-Dec-17 12:00:56

I don't blame schools, I blame the system. I went to primary in the 80s and early 90s and had a lovely time. No homework, no tests, afternoon play even in the juniors, lots of singing, art, story writing etc even all through Year 6. And the biggest thing was that your work matched your stage, not necessarily your age. That's what annoys me about my foster kids' school. They have to learn certain spellings or do certain grammar exercises etc purely because of the year group they're in.

I now also have a baby. I plan to home educate her. If primary school now was like it was when I went I might not.

allegretto Wed 13-Dec-17 12:04:03

Education is not a priority for this government as they expect to pay for private . Things will only get worse for public services while they are in power. Yes, funding is a problem but it could be overcome as the money is miraculously there for other things....DUP...Brexit...

RestingGrinchFace Wed 13-Dec-17 12:05:28

It's inevitable. People who send their children to state school are, for the most part, unwilling to pay for it, as is the taxpayer, not that I can blame them, taxes are high as it is. The money has to come from somewhere but it isn't. A good education costs a lot of money. What do you expect the government to do? Completely screw up the economy to fund education? It's good to see that some parents are willing to take responsibility and home educate but this isn't possible for most people, nor is private schooling. The government should introduce means tested school fees in state schools to ease the pressure. Of course they would never do that in the current political climate because they wouldn't make it through the next election.

Graphista Wed 13-Dec-17 12:06:06

Yea different here in Scotland - not necessarily better. My dd was top "set" on track to do really well in exams and hopefully go to a good uni.

She was then hospitalised with illness and as a result of this illness was off school 5/6 weeks. Completely unavoidable. Related to her disability.

We asked the school for support, for work to be sent home or at least suggested reading, and for their support when she returned to school. Instead she got berated by teachers for having fallen behind (they all knew what had been going on), expected to catch up with no guidance or support. The combination of still feeling very weak and sick, her confidence knocked and their attitude resulted in a child who was physically sick at the thought of going to school. This was a child I had previously had to almost pin down when she was ill (with normal bugs) to get her to stay home from school she loved it so much. She was involved in student council, plays, mentoring younger students, won prizes for the school in debating comps... And they just didn't give a shit!

To the point in one discussion the supposed guidance teacher ended up shouting at me!

I have a lot of friends and family that are teachers and used to be very defensive of how hard they work etc but they are fed up now with the lack of resources, support for the children and back up for themselves. One was quite seriously assaulted recently by a student. Has had no support from the school and the student was only suspended for a week and counselling recommended to his parents, who won't do it. They're blaming my friend.

The cut cut cut of this govt is disgusting, my friends and family are career teachers been teaching almost 30 years, but they're seeing that the quality of new teachers is low, because frankly the pay and conditions are shit and you don't get good employees if you don't pay a good wage.

The constant messing about with exams and curriculum don't help (govts of all colours to blame for this), the lack of good basic education is very worrying, primary teachers that can't do maths, spelling and grammar correctly is appalling.

I was lucky to have a good mainly military education and to be perfectly honest there have been times - too many - when I've had to correct dds knowledge because the then teacher was teaching incorrectly. And yes I did double check and not just take dds word but she was right.

I've had battles with teachers who've refused to accept Drs advice regarding dds disability even when I've taken letters in to the school to the point it has caused dd to be injured and hurt.

I really really understand why so many parents prefer to home educate now it is a bloody mess!

The British education system used to be one of the best in the world now it's a joke.

In my opinion (NOT humble) it needs to go back to basics in many ways. Good solid basic correct information imparted to students, teachers that listen as well as talk, and bring back proper discipline! I'm not talking corporal punishment but at the moment they're not so much as allowed to criticise a child who behaves badly it's ridiculous!

And before anyone says "what would you know you're not a teacher" no I'm not, but I have worked caring for children and have had long discussions with the teachers I know, and raised my own daughter within the system.

It desperately needs fixed.

Helendee Wed 13-Dec-17 12:10:27

I really don't envy teachers these days, not only do they have the responsibility of educating our children but are also seen as a panacea for all of society's ills.
Teachers appear to be surrogate counsellors and social workers as well as educators.
Hats off to all of you.

spurtions Wed 13-Dec-17 12:11:22

This is not my experience at all. The vast majority of the teachers have been there for many years and are highly effective, there are a few who are less good but none are terrible. The top sets work hard, for their GCSE with the vast majority getting 7-9. Middle sets will get 6-8 and bottom sets will mostly get their 5,6 &7’s. Behaviour issues are generally low level smart arse comments and by mid year 9 virtually non existent. My year 10 tells me that everyone has knuckled down and is taking it all very seriously.

Music isn’t brilliant but never was, sport is fine but can’t compete with private schools, drama is good. Lunches aren’t great and yes, we are asked to contribute to text books and things like that but overall I’m very happy with the school.

There’s a huge emphasis on giving back to the community, to developing leadership skills, to charity work and to being all round valuable members of society and this permeates everything the school does.

Virtually all sixth formers move onto higher education with nearly all of those being to Russell group with a good number to oxbridge, medicine and law.

I admit we are a leafy middle class comp with an engaged parent body but definitely don’t tar all state schools with the same brush.

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