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What do parents want from schools? Read our guest blogger Fiona Millar's post and join the conversation

(43 Posts)
ElenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Sep-11 11:18:45

Do you want more feedback from your child's school? Do you think there should be more parent-teacher communication? Our guest blogger Fiona Millar's post discusses her recent report on what parents want from schools. Join the conversation started by Fiona, and share your views.

SallyDon Wed 12-Oct-11 18:09:43

I have two adopted children who have both suffered neglect, abuse and broken attachments. For lots of reasons this makes sitting in a classroom and listening challenging for them. Our local school was a disaster, particularly for the eldest. He was branded as 'naughty' and had no friends. The expectations for his behaviour were just too high and so he constantly failed and every day I collected him to find his name under a black cloud, when most of the other children's names were under the sunshine.

I now travel for 2 hours a day to transport my children to schools which have taken the time to understand their issues and have stuck with them. They have a firm message of inclusivity and the other children support and understand them too so maybe they all benefit from learning that not everyone is the same and that everyone deserves a chance. I think that this is a very important message that needs to be delivered as part of a full and rounded education.

DaddyCool1980 Sun 09-Oct-11 08:09:22

I absolutely agree with Starlight on building teachers' self-esteem, allowing them to be creative and responsive. However, I disagree with the setting argument and Wickedwaterwitch's comment about "not everyone agree's" shows how difficult it is for teachers. When faced with a proven evidence base (and I am not going to go into whether the particular paper shows this) parents will still often say "hmmm, not for me, that doesn't sound right, I want this".

Teachers' need to be allowed to be the professionals they are. They also need to work with parents in a respectful manner that acknowledges them as experts in their own children, but not experts in education. More reflection, respect and responsibility from both sides of the relationship - not just teachers - is what is required.

LilyBolero Wed 14-Sep-11 21:47:29

Honestly, it's not. I've sat and discussed it at length with the authors!!! The crux of it is absolutely to do with how peer groups (ability) affect outcomes.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 14-Sep-11 20:34:50

I can only repeat what I said before, that the paper is critising the rigidity and inflexibility of the setting system. It is not saying that mixed ability classes are ideal, simply that the way setting is done currently leads to changed expectations of pupils attainment.

What I was advocating is true fluidity, and independent, pupil led learning facilitated by good monitoring and data from the teachers.

LilyBolero Wed 14-Sep-11 20:24:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LilyBolero Wed 14-Sep-11 20:23:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LilyBolero Wed 14-Sep-11 20:17:49

no, it really does, I've discussed it with the authors! If I had a few hours to spare I would trawl through it, but I've got 4 kids halfway between the living room and bed!!!

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 14-Sep-11 19:41:08

The paper might be based on statistical evidence, but it doesn't appear to draw the conclusion you do. Sorry.

LilyBolero Wed 14-Sep-11 19:29:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LilyBolero Wed 14-Sep-11 19:28:51

The paper is part of a bigger study which encompasses educational outcomes from 5-18, this is the GCSE part of it.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 14-Sep-11 13:46:33

I have read the paper Lilly, and it is about GCSE examination passes, not education. It refers to the inadequacies in the system rather than peer influence. It does not show statistically that children are better off in mixed-ability classes, as you suggested.

It does suggest that setting is often done inappropriately and can affect expectations, which is a fair point, but not proof itself that children need to learn in mixed ability classes for best outcomes.

moondog Wed 14-Sep-11 13:06:04

I'll read that with interest.

LilyBolero Wed 14-Sep-11 13:01:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

moondog Wed 14-Sep-11 12:30:15

'www, interestingly statistically, it's better to teach the children in mixed ability groups, apart from the least able, who should be taught separately - having less able children (from just below average ability) in the group doesn't hinder the progress of the most able, and having the most able in the group DOES pull the others up, so they all do as well or better. But the least able will need specific teaching, separate from the group.'

Reference to stats. please Lily.

Starlight is bang on the money.

anklebitersmum Wed 14-Sep-11 11:47:46

Please don't misunderstand, I have a healthy respect for teachers and I speak as an involved parent, who reads with all 4 nightly and ensure high but not unrealistic homework standards from the 3 in school.
We entrust them with our children, for whom we all want what we consider the best ( and that can vary widely from family to family) and they endeavour to impart knowledge across a wide social spectrum. No easy task and often a thankless one I'm sure especially given the teach them to pass not teach them to learn ethos that has infected our education system in the past decade.
I still want honest reports and a modicum of respect if I raise an issue or ask a question though smile

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 14-Sep-11 11:23:16

Value teachers, raise their self-esteem, teach them how to monitor the outcomes of their children and how to be loved by parents, and give them their creativity back.

Give them responsibility for their own development and the development of their children, and then hold them to account for it.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 14-Sep-11 11:21:33

IME, Teachers are defensive and secretive. Trying to get through to them or information from them is like banging your head against a brick wall.

But why is this?

Well, successive governments like to bark on about 'doing something about education' and focus on changing things noticably so they can look like something is being 'done'.

Then all society's ills are blamed on teachers. Young people are bad bad bad, and it is all the fault of their education.

So, rather than look at their own policies and effects on society, governments begin inspections and observations of schools and staff and 'training' on the latest strange idea that is based on the whim of the education secretary rather than any evidence.

Teachers are contantly being held account for whatever it is the latest government wants them to do, for reasons that they aren't completely sure of, and they never get to grips with the paperwork for it, because it changes every year.

So when parents ask questions, hold them to account etc. they fob them off as quite possibly the teachers either don't know the answers yet, or don't want to have to explain a system they aren't comfortable with or haven't even yet GOT a system.

And they are frightened of criticism. Because they are blamed enough.

What they seem to want, is for everyone to get off their back and allow them some space to try and make a difference to the children they work with.

And that is probably why they hold on to their 'assumptions' that their internal belief system and 'professional opinion' is the true value of what they deliver.

anklebitersmum Wed 14-Sep-11 11:20:40

Wickedwaterwitch you are so right! I am in the lucky position of having enrolled my 3 into what I consider to excellent schools now I'm back in the UK but have experienced Service Childrens' Education first hand and was not impressed.
There can be no teacher parent balance when the parents are a captive audience and the staff hold the mistaken but fiercely defended opinion that being in or married to the forces means parents are the intellectual equivalent of an amoeba.
Perhaps a more stringent OFSTED report and parental survey might be in order for these schools, not least as forces children tend to have a disrupted education simply due to geographical movement, something that can be extremely detrimental especially in the foundation years.

LilyBolero Wed 14-Sep-11 11:14:30

I think that is possible even in a more mixed group - and also, if the middle and top sets were mixed, then there wouldn't be the problem of having to 'move' from one set to the other - in areas where a 'middle' child was confident they could do harder stuff, in other areas they might need more support.

WideWebWitch Wed 14-Sep-11 11:09:55

And I speak as the parent of an average but lazy boy who is currently in a middle set but keen to work harder to see if he can get into the top set.

I want the kids who are brighter taught harder stuff, makes sense IMO.

WideWebWitch Wed 14-Sep-11 11:08:39

Hm, not everyone agrees Lily.

LilyBolero Wed 14-Sep-11 11:07:32

www, interestingly statistically, it's better to teach the children in mixed ability groups, apart from the least able, who should be taught separately - having less able children (from just below average ability) in the group doesn't hinder the progress of the most able, and having the most able in the group DOES pull the others up, so they all do as well or better. But the least able will need specific teaching, separate from the group.

WideWebWitch Wed 14-Sep-11 10:54:04

Blimey and having read that blog, is that ALL that was concluded?

The problems with (some) schools are far more deep rooted than that imo!

WideWebWitch Wed 14-Sep-11 10:48:39

Hmm, I want:

Children NOT to be taught in mixed ability groups, I want them taught in streams so the teacher is teaching at the same level across the whole lesson. In schools, as in life, people have different abilities and work at different rates so we should accommodate this imo.

I want discipline - it should be utterly unacceptable to swear at a teacher / use violence / not do as you're told and there should be enforcable sanctions for not following these very simple rules.

I don't want violent and disruptive children tolerated and spoiling it for the rest, I want them punished and, if necessary, excluded.

I want my children properly prepared for the real world where they will have to get up in the morning, think for themselves and work hard. I will do my bit too and agree to enforce the things at home that are needed in order to make this happen (e.g. early enough nights, checking homework is done, praising when work is genuinely good and helping where it's needed)

I want them to have some fun but actually, they are there to learn things! So I want them to learn them and be able to pass the exams they need to pass in order to be able to do whatever it is they want to do for a living (whatever that may be).

BirdyBedtime Wed 14-Sep-11 10:15:06

A school which truly believes in parent participation and doesn't just pay lip service to it.

A school which is in the 21st century and communicates with parents in a 21st century way - admittedly our school is this year asking parents to sign up to get communications from the school by email BUT what about me having to write a note when DD has been sick, or to say that she has a medical appointment, or to let the teacher know she has a health issue etc etc. Surely nowadays this can all be done by email (for those parents who want it obviously). The idea of a secure website which parents can log-into to communicate with the school is great.

A school that actually tells me how DD is doing in reading, writing, maths, ICT etc rather than presenting me with a standard form stating that she is 'capable' in everything. And what we need to be working on with her.

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