What matters most to you about schools? Views needed for a conference on Saturday Nov 27th.(180 Posts)
We've been invited to take part in a TUC conference aimed at everyone involved in schools parents, teachers, headteachers, governors, unions and local authorities. We're there to give the parents' perspective on what matters most to parents about schools.
It would be great to represent as many views/parents as possible so do please add your thoughts here before Saturday and we'll try to pass on as many of them as possible.
I am not in UK but here are my thoughts:
I want a school to offer my child basic life skills - reading, writing, arithmetic, cookery, IT while not neglecting the creative side of education.
No child should leave school without knowing how to work out percentages or cook a basic meal.
I would also like to see foreign languages introduced as early as possible. My children are trilingual so I am fully aware of the advantages of this.
A safe school (no bullying/zero tolerance and no head in the sand head teacher who refuses to admit that it happens), smaller classes and work that is appropriate to a childs ability, not 'turn the sheet over and do the other side if you can do the first side.' (yes, ds has bee to a school where they did this). There's too much focus at some schools on Maths and English because the schools want good sats results. This is often at the expense of art or music, both of which are equally as important.
I want my child to have a full and rounded rigorous and inspiring education. I want him to understand the links between maths and music, how to explore a theory or an idea, how to test his own ideas and look at things from more than one prespective. I want him to have an understanding of how to solve problems.
So - more education, less training, more well-taught music including proer lessons in an instrument, modern languages taugyht by proper language teachers - and, in oposition to the fatuous Gove, teachers who enjoy, relish and understand the role of teaching as a discipline as well as their subject. Teaching is a skill which benefits from in-depth training, experience and an underlying understanding of pedagogical methods.
I want my child to feel safe and secure. I want her to learn how to read, write, feel competent in arithmetic and IT. I want her to have the opportunity to express herself creatively through art, music, PE, dance. Until a child has achieved that, I see no need to introduce other 'subjects' to the curriculum, such as science, foreign languages and humanities. By secondary, she should have access to vocational as well as academic subjects.
I also firmly believe that children should reach certain levels of competancy in core skills before they are allowed to progress to the next year.
I want small class sizes and rigorous, flexible setting.
I want extremely high expectations of behaviour and schools with the will and powers to enforce those expectations.
I want extremely high expectations in resepct of academic achievement.
I want teachers to work in partnership with parents. I trust you as the experts in French/sport/music etc but do not need you to quasi-parent my children.
I do not want teachers who cleve slavishly to the NC in order to attain good SATs scores. I want teachers given proper flexibility and encouraged to ski off piste.
I want HTs to be able to get rid of poor teachers. We all know who they are.
I want proper competitive sport from primary.
Okay, I'll stop now.
I want schools to raise children's aspirations, not limit them through some misguided "get down wid de kidz" mode of teaching.
Children should be given the opportunity to hear/perform classical music and read great works of literature. If they choose to reject these later, then so be it, but to deny them any chance in the first place because such things are "elitist" or "they can't access them" (and I've heard these phrases straight from a Head's mouth) is at best shabby, at worst offensive.
Actually, I feel very strongly about the teahing of teachers. I was horrified by Gove telling us that the U.K 'teaching stock' needs to be improved and that he is going to do this by fast tracking some good minds into the system with a few weeks teacher training - actually just a few weeks spent in an 'outstanding' school.
I am an experienced drama practitioner and work with even more experienced and talented drama facilitators. The actual process of taking children through an effective drama session is a highly skilled art - it relies on technique, and understanding of what works, why, how and who with, sessions are incredibly carefully structured to enable , for example, young people to learn a skill in a fun warm up game and use it later on...even the way you organise the way the young people move around the room has an effect. And a huge back pocket of strategies to deal with any eventuality from shyness to violence. Pedagogy.
Surely teachers who are required to teach a subject to a wide variety of ages and abilities, in a wide variety of circustances, need far ore than to be able drone on about their subject in great and accurate detail? It's fine for a recent Oxbridge graduate to enthuse and inspire an eager 6th former, Once you are in 6th form you have presumably developed some self-motivation and enjoyment in learning. You have chosen to be there - and your subject is being taught at a higher level. But a slow learner in maths, aged 12, who has no confidence or concentration? That takes technique, understanding, experience. And it can be done by a good, skilled teacher who also has the right attitude - I know, I was that 12 yo, and passed maths 'O' Level after well-grounded teaching.
It seems to me that teaching itself is being hugely undervalued. As it probably is by endless box ticking and being a slave to the NC, too.
I'd like my children to have teachers who are scaremongered into not giving any physical comfort. If my DD falls over and cries, I'd like to think that a teacher or ta or dinner lady is able to give her the basic comfort of a cuddle without fear of litigation or accusations.
I'd like the staff at school to be able to use their own initiative and not be constrained by some, quite frankly, ridiculous health and safety rules.
I dislike the way that parents are discounted in the whole school day - we are good enough to raise funds, help out and do homework, but we are often treated as inconveniences and like little children whenever there is a new policy or procedure that is introduced or discounted when an issue (especially like bullying) is raised.
I think schools should acknowledge that there are bad elements to a school and consult everybody to address issues. There should be more to a school day than meeting targets and getting a good OFSTED or Sat results.
I really think that children start school far too young. There is a massive gap between the oldest and youngest children in a class and parents should really have a choice to ensure that the first few years of school are positive ones.
A clean school building.
Teachers who know how to spell and use punctuation.
A warm, welcoming environment with no tolerance of bullying.
Thorough teaching of the basic building blocks: grammar, spelling, punctuation, maths.
Singing, music, PE at least once a week.
Regular feedback to parents, with end-of-term reports showing marks out of 10 [I find the system they use at DD's primary school, of saying she is at level 3A or whatever, completely incomprehensible.]
Streaming by ability, and acceptance that some children are more academic than others. Why should you deny that there are children who are clever with their heads and other children who are clever with their hands? Accept this fact, and offer vocational training for those who are not academic.
Do not set stupid targets like 50% of young people to go to University. Accept that University should be at the intellectual top level, and that this country needs more people with skills.
Small class sizes
Daily sport (proper stuff, not the ones where "everyone is a winner")
Foreign languages compulsory to at least GCSE, ideally A level.
respect all the way down.
senior management teams who respect the skills, knowledge and input of their staff and give a shit about their working conditions and listen when told changes are disastrous idea. senior management teams who put the wellbeing and success of their staff and pupils first.
teachers who respect children and want them to do well and feel enabled to make choices and follow strategies that work for them and their pupils. staff who have the full and proper support of the management team for the removal of disruptive pupils from their classrooms for whom other methods have failed and they are consistently destroying the education of their peers and making teachers lives unbearable.
students who respect each other and the staff and the process of education. who feel respected and valued and safe. who don't have to put up with bullying and disruption to their education because senior management fail to address the problems with a minority of students effectively.
parents who feel respected and listened to by but also respect and listen to the school. parents who feel secure that their children are safe and being taken care of at school. parents who realise that their children's behaviour is their responsibility and they will be held accountable for the bad behaviour of their children and be ready to follow strict programmes to improve their children's behaviour and performance when it is not acceptable. parents who understand that there will be no place for their children in the school if they persistently are violent, bullying, or disruptive.
pretty much what Litchic said class sizes should be half what they are at present.
I also want a secondary school where girls do not have to put up with mild sexual abuse on a daily basis.
I very much do not want graffiti club to be offered as a valid activity.
I agree with a lot of what has already been said. Just wanted to add that I want school to be a place which challenges racial and gender stereotypes, or if they cant do that they should at least not ingrain them. In primary this can be with simple things like having ethnically diverse characters in books and dolls. It's more difficult in secondary I think, but there needs to be an awareness that it's not ok for maths and science A levels to be dominated by boys, and languages by girls.
I want schools to put education ahead of petty rule enforcement. It is not acceptable that pupils don't wear their uniforms properly, but it is made 100 times worse by teaching time being wasted to get them smartened up. The schools need to prioritise their time here, and I think that teaching should never be lower on the priority list than neatness.
I would also like some schools to be secular and free from the daily worship requirement.
2nd that the daily worship requirement should be dropped.
also think we need rid of religious schools full stop.
schools should not be about segregation or indoctrination.
What I would like is:
Good pastoral care.
My child to be treated like an individual.
No homework in primary besides times tables and reading practice.
Fewer or no externally published test results.
Less prescriptive teaching guidelines and assessment standards.
More creative teaching and multi-disciplinary lesson plans. More rewards for creative thinking in classwork.
Yes an end to state funded religeous schools
i'd also scrap sats.
cats are very useful however. as a teacher i loved schools which gave me cat info as i found it far more informative than sats results and NC levels.
teachers to be able to adapt to the needs of INDIVIDUAL pupils., I don't want my children to suffer because teachers have to stick to a strict regime and have to tick boxes saying they've done X, Y and Z. I want to be able to trust my child's teacher to be able to say hey, litteyesterday is really keen on learning X, let's do a bit more of that
this would be helped by smaller class sizes. which means stop building so many bloody houses in the south-east and not building schools to go with them~!!!
how any teacher can meet the educational needs of 30 children each day I will never fathom! they are saints, and their job would be much easier if they could do it without being bound up by red-tape and huge class sizes
i would like more male teachers at primary level. where are they all????
i would like more outside activities and work that can be done without having to write about it to "prove" it has been done. I want my kids to have fun at school
I want teachers to be able to cuddle my child when he is upset. I want them to be able to tell children when their behaviour is unacceptable and remove them from class without fear of being branded abusive.
I want them to be able to wipe the bottoms of children who start school at 4 and can't do it themselves! (ok, i know that will be controversial, but ds1's teacher did express some regret that tehy were no longer "allowed" to assist children in toileting)
I want the school to STOP telling me what my children can and can't bloody well eat. I am aware that some parents give their kids shit- tell them. don't stop me giving my child a cake just because someone else has decided that their can live on a kitkat and a can of coke a day.
Stop scaring my 5 year old into thinking he is going to get fat, and that he can't eat certain things because they aren't healthy this makes me unbelievably furiosu.
he does NOT need low-fat yoghurt at FIVE years old.
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