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(24 Posts)
Hando Tue 15-Sep-09 13:57:22

AIBU to feel a bit annoyed about my dd's primary school?

Amongst many other unrelated issues (I'm trying to move dd into a different school but the waitin list is long) a new one has occured this year. We have just started year/primary 1. I have discovered today that dd's class is full (31) children and they do not have their own teaching assistant! The are sharing the one from another class, so each class get the TA for 2 days a week (she only works 4 days a week for some reason). They have been back over 2 weeks now and they haven't done any reading even. In reception their TA would take them aside individually to read aloud at least once a week. I have discovered that this a permanant arrangement not just temporary.

AIBU to be really annoyed about this?!?

I can't understand why. I think I'm going to ask to meet with the head to discuss it as lots of parents have been asking me before and after school about it (I guess I'm usually the one who find stuff out first) grin

Is this common practise in primary schools to share a TA?

Also, if I offer to go in for a few hours each week to listen to the children read (I like to help, not just be a moaning parent) do you think they may be likely to take me up on my offer?

MorningTownRide Tue 15-Sep-09 14:01:56

'We' have just started year/primary 1??

meemarsgotabrandnewbump Tue 15-Sep-09 14:02:32

I think it is common to share a TA - it's all down to resourses.

They probably would be very grateful for parent helpers, but you would be unlikely to be allowed into your DD's class.

YANBU to be upset, but YABU to be annoyed at the school. Of course it would be ideal for all primary classes to have a full time teacher and TA. It's just not the way it is though.

Hando Tue 15-Sep-09 14:05:06

HA Morningtownride - I don't mean I have just started year 1 - dd has. But "we" meaning us and we are, as a family... errr... it seemed to make sense when I started it.

Oh so it's normal then meemarsgotabrandnewbump. Actually TA's son is in the class that she "belongs" to. Is that not right then?

meemarsgotabrandnewbump Tue 15-Sep-09 14:08:44

I don't know - maybe it depends on individual school policy. I just know that at our school they don't place parent helpers in with their own children.

listenglisten Tue 15-Sep-09 14:08:53

I think this is pretty normal and from my experience, rightly or wrongly, they do not read as often as in Reception so we do try to read regularly at home.

I have always listened to readers in my ds and dd's classes and so I expect they will be glad of any extra reading help offered. I don't see why you wouldn't be allowed to listen to readers in their class.

Hulababy Tue 15-Sep-09 14:09:09

I have discovered today that dd's class is full (31) children and they do not have their own teaching assistant!

Is this in England? In England infant classes should never be more than 30 children per teacher. If there are 31 children then they should have another member of taff in with them all day.

She only works 4 days a week for some reason.

It is quite common for TAs to chose to work part time. I myself chose to. So, for example, the Y1 class I work in only has a TA in a morning, as I do not work afternoons. There is no other TA employed for the other hours with this class. There are 30 children in the class.

They have been back over 2 weeks now and they haven't done any reading even.

That is not on really. We have been back 1 week and 2 days and have heard every chld read at three times. In the first couple of days me and the teacher heard every child individually. We are now doing guided reading in ability groups and have done this once a week so far. May try and do it again later this week too. As a TA in continuous provision time I sometimes get a child to read to me individually too, but this is informal and not recorded.

It may be just because it is start of time (not great still I know) and it will pick up, but definitely keep an eye ont his. I would not be a happy parent.

Is this common practise in primary schools to share a TA?

Yes it can be, but depends on staffing, class layouts, class sizes, pupil needs. Ideally it is better for each class to have their own TA, but not always possible and where class sizes are 30 and less not actually required.

Also, if I offer to go in for a few hours each week to listen to the children read (I like to help, not just be a moaning parent) do you think they may be likely to take me up on my offer?

We would! We have an elderly lady who comes in every Wednesday afternoon who listens to readers. We also have some parent helpers who come in every so often to do different tasks - reading, craft, cooking, etc. I have helped out in my own DD's school int he past too and listening to readers was something I always did.

Hulababy Tue 15-Sep-09 14:10:06

IME it is very common for helpers to be in their own child's class when helping out.

IdrisTheDragon Tue 15-Sep-09 14:10:52

I agree with Hula that if you are in England there needs to be another teacher if there are more than 30 children. DS's Year 1 class has 32 children with two teachers.

listenglisten Tue 15-Sep-09 14:11:16

Also, as Hulababy mentioned in her school, my dd is now doing a lot more guided reading in groups in Y1.

Hulababy Tue 15-Sep-09 14:11:43

Just to pick up on what some ne else said - do try and read with your own child as often as possible. At this age we read with DD every single school night and recorded it in ehr reading diary. This, I believe, is one of the best things you cnan do to support your child.

meemarsgotabrandnewbump Tue 15-Sep-09 14:11:51

oh! Maybe our school had a bad experience with it.

PeedOffWithNits Tue 15-Sep-09 14:14:19

not all schools can afford full time TAs for each class, OP!

even WITH a full time TA, many schools rely on parents to hear the readers, to free up the TA to work with small groups on a specific task.

ReneRusso Tue 15-Sep-09 14:14:37

At my DDs' school the TAs are shared from year 2 upwards. 31 is quite a large class size not to have a full time TA. I think YANBU and you should discuss it with the head.

Pitchounette Tue 15-Sep-09 14:21:06

Message withdrawn

Hando Tue 15-Sep-09 14:22:19

Thansk for all your replies. I think I just assumed a full time TA per class was normal as the two other primary schools (the best ones) which sadly we live slightly too far away from have one per class.envy

I am going to the school in a bit, so will offer my "services" to hear them read. Although it's not like i have heaps of spare time as I work so if I make arrangements to give a couple of hours every week then I'd want to do it for dd's class, or know that whilst I am reading with the other class their TA is assisting my my dd's class. That sounds bad, I know but otherwise the other class have the TA and me helping which doesn't benefit my dd in any way.

We do try and read in the evenings, I always read her a bedtime story but dd doesn't usually want to read herself as she's so worn out from school and I don't want to "force" reading as a chore, I want her to enjoy it. Whereas I know if they did it at school she'd happily read.

Thanks again all - esp. hulababy!

Hulababy Tue 15-Sep-09 14:28:55

Often the best time to listen to your DD read can be in the morning, over breakfast.

I agree, don't let her reading become a chore for her. For DD in Y1 reading was homework for every night, so it was expected. Fortunately though DD loved it.

But do share reading if and when she is up to it. Yu could get her to read the first line and you do the rest, etc.

Pyrocanthus Tue 15-Sep-09 14:43:42

It's the norm to help in your own DC's class in our primary school too (by 'our' I mean the one frequented in the present and near past by the children of our family smile). If you are going to make time to listen to reading, make sure that's what you do - parents helping at our school have sometimes got a bit fed up at offering to help with reading, then finding themselves standing at the photocopier instead. Some very generously acknowledge that it gives the class teacher more time to spend reading with the children, but if you're making time in your own busy schedule (or have your own admin backlog to deal with!), it can be frustrating.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Tue 15-Sep-09 14:51:38

Hando, as a governor I have learnt a lot about the working of school finances over the past few years. School budgets are very tight and staffing is by far the greatest cost. Schools have to make a lot of very tricky decisions about the best way to spend their money. So for instance School A might employ a full time TA for each class, but would have to make cuts in other places, for example by having TAs rather than teachers cover PPA time or teacher absence. Another school might choose to employ a number of full or part time teachers to cover PPA but choose to share TAs between classes. Or TAs might be deployed to work with individual children or groups of children who need particular support rather than being assigned to a particular class. It all depends on the size of the school and what the head perceives to be the best use of the resources available. There is no norm.
WRT to the reading volunteering, I should think they would bite your hand off. They would in our school.

Hando Tue 15-Sep-09 15:52:44

Well, I'm in shock.

Spoke to dd when she came out of school, she hasn't done individual reading or group reading at all. Confirmed this with couple of other mums at the gates. So thats 2 weeks and 2 days no reading. I assumed (as I said before) that is was because the TA didn't have time, sharing TA due to lack of funding etc.

So, I waited for the kids to all go and caught dd's class teacher. I offered to come in any afternoon or morning on a regular basis to hear the children read. She said "no thanks, we're ok." I said "Oh? but don't you need helpers?" she said again "no, we don't need anyone to help, thanks."

As it was raining she rushed off, luckily as I was in shock and didn't say "well clearly you DO need some help!"

hmm A letter to the head typed up tonight and ready to give to her tomorrow, I think!

Why on Earth would they refuse an offer like that?

LadyGlencoraPalliser Tue 15-Sep-09 15:56:25

If they haven't had time to hear your DD read yet then they are NOT OK.
I would use the letter to request a meeting with the head to discuss the school's policy on parent volunteers. Do a bit of research on what other schools do so you can come up with some proposals on how parent volunteers can help.
For instance, at our school they ask for volunteers at parent meetings at the beginning of the year and give them some training on how to listen to readers - what to do and what not to do - before they let them loose.

smee Tue 15-Sep-09 16:52:28

LadyG's right, most schools have a policy on parent helpers and procedures to go through before you start. At DS's school a member of staff co-ordinates and meets the parent, to talk through what the school expects in terms of relating to the children, and also to see what the parent might be interested in (eg playground supervision, helping with reading, art, etc), so where they might be best suited. You can't just walk in is what I'm saying, so possibly it's the same with your school?

MrsMellowdrummer Tue 15-Sep-09 18:30:29

My son, in y1, read to somebody once every three weeks, which I thought was appalling. Even worse, when I delved a bit further into what was going on, that person turned out to be one of the parent helpers, just moved to England from Poland, and in the process of learning English as a second language. Lovely lady, but her English was elementary to say the least. I don't think he was heard by a member of staff more than once a term, if that.

The teacher was relying really on parents reading at home with their children, which I am certain (as I used to go in and help myself, and was often tasked to look through reading diaries etc), wasn't happening for over 50% of the class.

Pretty awful. sad.
YANBU to be concerned, OP, and I would be kicking up a bit of a stink (on ALL the children's behalf) if I were you.

BethNoire Tue 15-Sep-09 18:38:16

We ahd 31 children (Ds3 was the 31st BUT the way they got around it ws actually including ds3 on the otehr class register, it was just that that put one disabled child in each class rather than having the two together (I did whistleblow to the LEA as I thought it was really off- a child with cancer and a child with epilepsy also int he class unsupported, with a subby teacher)

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