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AIBU to expect the private-school-using TA at ds's primary school not to slag it off?

(183 Posts)
Huffthemagicdragon Tue 30-Jun-09 15:23:03

Ooo I'm feeling annoyed. In my son's reception class at our local primary school (which is lovely and representative of area, ie very mixed socially) there is a volunteer TA, let's call her Mrs X. She is thinking of becoming a teacher, hence the volunteer work. While this is all very kind of her to help out in the class etc, etc, I feel like telling her to feck off.
Firstly, someone told me that Mrs X had said that the school was good but that "she wouldn't send her son there". I enquired why and it was apparently due to large class sizes and mixed ability. Fairly standard in a state school and this woman has had her son down for various ultra posho schools from the off, so she would say that, I suppose.
Then I've just heard that she's been saying (to posho school parents) that the kids in ds' class are at a really low level and are only doing stuff that the kids in the pre-reception class of posh school are doing. Am annoyed because
a) I'm amazed at how much this bunch five year olds are achieving. My ds can write sentences, read a bit, write down sums etc etc. All thanks to great teaching.
b) This is an area where a lot of rich people live and unfortunately most of them drive their kids across London rather than supporting their local school and this sort of talk only encourages it.
c) Feel it's rather indiscreet and breaking some sort of code to talk about my ds's class to people who know him. Or to anyone in fact.
Am I being unreasonable? Should I just chill and accept that lots of people think state schools are sink schools on account of their big class sizes and children who haven't been taught to read Tolkein before reception? Or should I mention it to the very approachable head?
Ooo am so furious...

MIAonline Tue 30-Jun-09 15:27:43

Whatever her views are, she should not be talking to other parents in the class about them.

She is in the school in a professional capacity, even as a volunteer and will have agreed to a confidentiality agreement.

Speak to the Head, he/she will want to know the TA is bad mouthing the school.

roneef Tue 30-Jun-09 15:29:06


IF she said this stuff you ANBU.

The point is that it's all hearsay.

You can't go to the head with gossip.

Very annoying and unprofessional if true though.

Huffthemagicdragon Tue 30-Jun-09 15:31:09

It's not other parents in the class, it's parents/nannies at another school - a pre-prep a street away where 95% of children go onto private schools. But either way, I think you're right, it's unprofessional and unethical. Didn't know whether I was over-reacting.

Huffthemagicdragon Tue 30-Jun-09 15:33:29

Yes, true Roneef, it is all hearsay and gossip but it seems odd that it wouldn't have any basis in truth. Why would people make up stuff that she said?
In some ways I should just let it lie as she is leaving to move to the leafy home counties at end of term so it's not going to achieve anything, I just feel she should be censured in some way in case she goes onto another school and does the same. I sort of feel like if she's saying this about the school to people who know me, has she been discussing ds's work in more detail?

JoesMummy09 Tue 30-Jun-09 15:35:57

Tred carefully. You say "someone told me" and you've "just heard". You've not witnessed anything yourself. If you repeat this you could be seen to be gossiping (I'm not saying it isn't true and you don't have right to be angry but it's very sensitive, esp as this woman is an employee and has certain employment rights).

The Head can't speak to her on the basis of hearsay. They have to witness something directly or have a signed statement from a direct witness.

If you are really that angry ask the person who heard this woman saying stuff to speak to the head or stop gossiping. Is it possible the people who have been speaking to you have another agenda by having a go about this woman?

Huffthemagicdragon Tue 30-Jun-09 15:40:50

Again Joesmummy, you are being sensible and I am hot under the collar (what with this weather etc). It is kind of pointless for me to pass on third-hand gossip to head, though there really isn't any agenda for the people telling me these pearls of wisdom from mrs x. I think more the agenda is her reassuring them that they're all doing the right thing in sending their kids to private schools. And this is what annoys me because we're all seeking that reassurance that we're doing the right thing and it's obviously a very divisive and sensitive issue.
Must not listen to tittle tattle, must not listen to tittle tattle...

JoesMummy09 Tue 30-Jun-09 15:42:09

Sorry cross posts. I missed your reply to roneef before putting in my 2 cents worthblush

Sounds like your ds's school is lovely. Glad you don't send him to the school with the horrid parents and nannies. They don't sound very nice.

JoesMummy09 Tue 30-Jun-09 15:45:05

Ok, maybe not horrid... bit strong. (I'm hot too! wink)

I think you're right about them wanting reassurance about choices - both posh school parents and us plebs!

Huffthemagicdragon Tue 30-Jun-09 15:52:10

I have to say if I was spending 12k a year and driving an hour across London to st poshos for reception class, I'd want to believe that local state school wasn't teaching them to read and write. What's really annoying is that it's not true. I'm gobsmacked at how well they're being taught and so proud of ds with his little obsessive sheets of A4 covered in numbers up to a 100 or oddly-spelt sentences.

abraid Tue 30-Jun-09 15:53:01

Are you sure it's not parents putting words into her mouth? or Chinese whispers? I'd need to have heard her myself to go and complain to the head. Can see why you're annoyed, if it's true!

edam Tue 30-Jun-09 15:55:41

Silly woman (her not you). Clearly insecure - feels she has to defend her own choices by denigrating other children.

You are right, it is unprofessional and a darn cheek! If she thinks state education is so rubbish, how come she's asked a state school to help her gain experience?

wilbur Tue 30-Jun-09 15:58:42

If indeed she is rubbishing the local school, then that is unprofessional, unfair and unpleasant. However, using words like "posho" and "horrid" to describe people who send their children to private schools does nothing to further intelligent debate on the subject. This is a regular, knee-jerk reaction on this type of thread, and it polarises families and lowers the tone.

wilbur Tue 30-Jun-09 16:01:39

Sorry - pressed send too soon - meant to say - lowers the tone of a reasonable subject for discussion.

Huffthemagicdragon Tue 30-Jun-09 16:03:15

to be fair I didn't describe anyone as horrid and I described the schools as "posho" rather than the parents themselves (tbh some of the very posho-est of parents use the state school, hence the very broad social mix). And I think Joesmummy was describing this sort of gossip and denigration as horrid behaviour, rather than the parents as being horrid for sending their kids to private school per se.
It is a bit of a silly word though, you're right, I was being facetious...

JoesMummy09 Tue 30-Jun-09 16:37:27

Thanks Huff you were right - I was describing the gossipy behaviour as horrid.

Parents can send their kids where they like.

DH went to a private school and he is lovely. And a bit posho too wink

wilbur Tue 30-Jun-09 16:41:56

Sorry, I misread your line about posho school parents and was talking to joesmummy about the word horrid (although she then retracted that before I had finished my post). I think that everyone wants to think they have made the best choice for their children and unfortunately, there will always be people who trumpet their choices as the only reasonable ones which annoys and belittles other people. If this TA is one of those kind of people, and you do hear these massively unhelpful comments coming out of her mouth, then I would definitely say something to her about it. It's a bit like a friend of mine who occasionally makes comments about the behaviour of some of the children at our local school, conveniently forgetting that her privately educated son is possibly the least disciplined child I know, rofl.

I guess I would just love the world of education debates to be a kinder, gentler place where people accept that every school is going to have its great and not-so-great elements, and that people's choices don't automatically mark them as either a communist who puts their politics before their children or a complete snob so laden down with privilege that they can barely move a botoxed muscle.

wilbur Tue 30-Jun-09 16:44:53

Although I would like just a smidge of privilege. Any maybe a little botox round the eyes. grin

IneedAbetterNickname Tue 30-Jun-09 16:56:34

I'm confused, whats pre-reception? My son was a nursery until September, when he started school in reception class (or rising 5s we used to call it). He can write slowly if he copies, and is just about reading words now. His teacher said he is in the 'top half' of the class, he is not yet 5 but by that standard the children in your son's school sound very clever!

Huffthemagicdragon Tue 30-Jun-09 17:21:52

By pre-reception I mean the year before reception (the private school calls itself a pre-prep, I think, hence me using word "pre"). I think Mrs X has got a point in that some of the children in ds's class come from way behind in that they haven't had any nursery "education" therefore may have trouble holding a pencil and there are others (like my ds) who have pushy, over-educated parents and so are probably at a higher level. I guess the range is much broader in a state school than a private school, though whether this is a good or bad thing is another question.
Ineedabetternickname - exactly! Mrs X seems to be suggesting that being taught to read using phonics and beginning to write is somehow not a high enough standard for a bunch of 5-year-olds. It's insane.
And Wilbur, you're so right that this debate becomes so defensive and polarised. I think that's what annoyed me most was that she seemed to be criticising it for being a state school (ie 30 in a class, mixed ability). It's as if it's not enough for one's child to succeed, others have to be failing. When in reality, I think the community as a whole is best served if everyone's child is getting a decent education.
And as Edam says if she thinks state school so rubbish then don't use it for her references to do teacher-training.
Anyway, I've decided not to make a complaint to either the teacher nor the head as I don't want to waste their time nor do I want Mrs X to get bad references (I suspect that she is well-intentioned but a little bit naive). I am debating whether to have a quiet word with her though, because I feel strongly that I wouldn't want her doing this at another school. Plus it seems more honest than bitching about her to other parents which of course I'm very tempted to do (but am instead venting on mn).

IneedAbetterNickname Tue 30-Jun-09 17:41:47

So pre-reception is nursery? Or Foundation stage 1, or pre-school, which are the 3 names I have heard in my area for what I would call nursery? Sorry, I am so confused!

Huffthemagicdragon Tue 30-Jun-09 17:49:22

It's my fault Ineedabetternickname - "pre-reception" is a completely invented term that I thought made things clear but obviously didn't! Basically Mrs X was comparing what my son's reception class were doing to her son's class at local private school, which is year below reception, ie rising 4s.

IneedAbetterNickname Tue 30-Jun-09 17:56:26

Thanks It was probably clear to everyone other than me, sometimes I'm so dense I scare myself

In that case what I said 1st stands, your sons class sound advanced compared to my sons

Huffthemagicdragon Tue 30-Jun-09 18:01:10

And Nickname, it also means that the rising 4s at our local private pre-prep are all geniuses! Or should that be genii? Oh god, I knew there was a reason that my ds should be learning Latin.

Hulababy Tue 30-Jun-09 18:06:10

If she is doing this she is being unprofessional. She ought not to be talking specifics to other parents regardless of what school they go.

However it is hearsay. There is nothing concrete to complain about.

BTW in my experience she will not have signed a confidentiality agreement. Have been a teacher for 10 years, and now a TA in an infant school - never signed any such agreement.

But in the privacy of her own environment, and without specifics ivolved, she is allowed to voice her own opinion surely. Just like people do here on MN or with their wn friends - we see it from both sides here on MN that is for sure; lots of assumptiond and stereotypes flung around IME.

BTW I am a TA in a state school (was teacher in state school) but my own DD goes to a private school. I do see a big difference in things between the private and state sector. This, however, does not been I rubbish the state sector - not in the slightest infact. But differences do exist, some good and some not so good on both sides.

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