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How transparent is your school?

(20 Posts)
NorhamGardens Tue 09-Oct-12 16:24:38

In terms of setting, streaming, changes to the curriculum etc?

I find that ours often introduce changes without telling us up front. They will provide explanations when challenged but this can be frustrating. It's as if they hope to introduce changes by stealth in the hope they won't be noticed and potentially the then limiting consequences to some children will go unrealised.

Is this widespread? Just curious.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 09-Oct-12 17:33:30

changes to the curriculum have rather more to do with Mr Gove than the schools
and TBH how streaming works NEEDS to be a tad opaque to stop pushy parents trying to game the system

NorhamGardens Tue 09-Oct-12 17:37:44

Does it re: streaming? Surely if they had transparent & fair criteria then few can argue? Some will always find a way to game the system.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 09-Oct-12 17:40:38

For every child who goes up, another has to go down.
Would you like yours clearly identified as the one who went down? I would not, so I support a bit of discreet work on sets and streams - so long as the statistics as reviewed by the SMT and the governing body show that the movements are for the best.

louloutheshamed Tue 09-Oct-12 17:44:51

Pushy parents who kick up a fuss about streaming are a nightmare tbh, and are undermining teachers' professional judgment. As a teacher it really doesn't matter to me if I am teaching set 4 or 5 or whatever, I will still do my utmost to ensure each child makes progress. Parents who complain about it take up time which would be better spent elsewhere.

NorhamGardens Tue 09-Oct-12 17:50:53

I think the way decisions are made and judgements passed should be transparent. Whether it's a test or ongoing teacher assessment.

Do you find lots of parents complain Loulou?

tiggytape Tue 09-Oct-12 22:19:58

I disagree loulou - a parent's opinion on their child's ability (although not their child’s ability relative to the rest of the class) is a valid one and should not be dismissed as mere pushiness. Many parents understand the things that can hinder a child showing their true potential in a way that a teacher will not see unless asked to delve a bit deeper.

I would be very unhappy with any teacher who felt discussing or even justifying sets was a waste of their time and something that should not involve parents at all. I would be very unhappy with any school that adopted that attitude too. I don’t think pushy parents should be able to muscle their way into top set places for their children through sheer pester power but I do not agree that teacher always knows best and is right to actively discourage any discussion that might contradict this.

tiggytape Tue 09-Oct-12 22:22:41

...and I say this as a parent who has in the past also requested - shock horror - that their child be moved down a group because whilst the academic abiltiy was there, the confidence levels were suffering from being with the scary top-set alpha children and from missing a lot of school for medical reasons which made catching up with top set work seem too daunting.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 09-Oct-12 22:23:41

although not their child’s ability relative to the rest of the class
and that is the WHOLE POINT of setting.
You may think your child is the brightest in the world, but the teacher has the data on ALL the children so sets them relative to each other.
That is their job.
And frankly the vast majority of parents should just but out.

When I was warned that DS would NOT be in the expected sets, I did not hassle the teacher, I kicked him up the backside, upped his work and he produced the results the teacher needed.
I do not know which child got bumped down instead. None of anybody's business except the teachers.

Svrider Tue 09-Oct-12 22:30:34

I never know what's happening in school
I was told at end of last year that both dds are in the top 5 % of their class smile

My dd1 has since been "encouraged" to join homework club (even tho I always ensure she does it on same nite, and hands it in!, I also check it first)
I've found out tonite via dd1 that dd2 is missing assembly for extra reading. She reads at home every other nite, and I fill in her reading record

The teachers have said NOTHING angry

Parents evening thurs........

tiggytape Tue 09-Oct-12 22:41:17

I don’t think the teacher need ever disclose confidential information in order to reassure parents that the systems are fair and fairly applied. That is what transparency means.

If a teacher says 'this what we've decided - end of discussion’ parents are not going to be happy. If a teacher says 'your child's reading age is advanced but is still some way below the standard of the children in gold group' well parents might still be unhappy but it is fair enough. If you're told your child is in a class with a genius level top set at least you can comprehend why your bright child is only middle set. If you’re told reading age is one thing they’ve looked at then you know there is some sort of criteria and your child hasn’t been overlooked.

Which can be a worry for any parent who has a bright but painfully quiet child. You never know if they are in their group because that is a genuine reflection of their ability or because nobody has ever realised what they can do since the child is so quiet and never volunteers answers to the things you know they can do. This is the type of area parents want reassurance on.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 09-Oct-12 22:45:58

bright but painfully quiet child
This is where parents seem to forget that teachers are QUALIFIED - as part of their PGCE and BEd they do theories of learning and mind, ways to recognise comprehension
and - heaven forfend - actually TEST the kids to find out what they know.

At secondary schools, sets are little to do with "reading age" and rather more to do with the transition from concrete to formal thinking and grasping abstract concepts of added value to work

(I'm not a teacher BTW, married to a qualified teacher)

tiggytape Tue 09-Oct-12 22:58:23

I am not teacher bashing. I am not even saying parents should have any part in any setting process. I am saying that teachers should not dismiss parental views out of hand and should not refuse to explain to parents their decisions both at primary and secondary level. If the decision is the correct one then it should be one that is easy to explain.

That is why I used the word reassurance. Parents often just want reassurance that their child is cooperating in assessments despite being shy for example. Not all teachers are equally brilliant at drawing out a shy child enough to get them to participate in assessments which involve a verbal response for example. Parents may want reassurance that their child is being tested or observed from time to time and that the setting is fluid. That isn’t the same as demanding their child is put in the top set at all. It is merely seeking to understand the process and feel happy that their child’s needs are being met

Any teacher who does not feel parents deserve that reassurance or an explanation about setting is bound to encounter unhappy parents who feel frustrated or treated unfairly. In no profession now is it acceptable to say ‘we know best, trust us and do not question our judgements’ It is the norm now that people want to be informed about how decisions affecting them and their children are arrived at.

Startailoforangeandgold Tue 09-Oct-12 23:17:30

No way am I butting out of setting decisions made by one particularly brain dead department. (Yes science you know who you are.)

Because they are Wrong

They have also moved the goal posts, changed who they are entering for which exams and they certainly kept quiet.

Had I known I'd have kicked up a massive fuss last year.

Yes I'm a pushy parent, but I was also pretty much the best scientist in my year. I've spent a lot of time explaining stuff to friends and class mates and DD1 gets things way quicker than most.

tiggytape Tue 09-Oct-12 23:26:50

There have been cases on MN where parents have questioned obviously 'wrong' sets and uncovered a mix up due to two children having the same name.
Or found out that the primary failed to pass on the KS2 SATS results so the child has been slotted into a free space rather than one based on all the figures that the secondary school normally uses.
These issues may not have been corrected at all or corrected quickly were it not for 'pushy' parents querying something that did not seem right.

And too often, a parent's questions uncovers the fact that not all sets are carefully and professionally considered in the way that some believe must be the case. Some schools have bonkers policies that deserve to be challenged eg 'if you're in the top group for maths, you're in the top group for English and P.E too because that's how our timetables work out'

Startailoforangeandgold Tue 09-Oct-12 23:31:43

Dyslexia does not mean thick and giving her less to learn for double award will not improve her grade.

She has no trouble learning or understanding only in writing it down.

bowerbird Wed 10-Oct-12 13:29:16

Tiggy I completely agree with you. There's an awful lack of communication in this area. And while I respect a teacher's authority in the classroom, it's perfectly valid (and necessary) to let a teacher know if there's a huge disparity between what a child is capable of at home and what they're achieving at school.

Talking I don't know why you're being so defensive. You said yourself you kicked your DC's butt when you were warned he wouldn't be in expected sets.
Unfortunately, many parents never have that kind of conversation with a teacher. I would welcome that kind of frank discussion, but it's not forthcoming unless you ask specifically.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 10-Oct-12 13:49:57

I was told it at parents evening - in front of other parents and his class mates
I did not start the conversation

I defend the professional judgement of teachers because too many parents make too many assumptions about their children without remembering that all things are relative - and ONLY the teachers have the full set of performance data.

lljkk Wed 10-Oct-12 14:16:39

I think the way decisions are made and judgements passed should be transparent. Whether it's a test or ongoing teacher assessment.

Maybe it depends how that's implemented, but on face of it, sounds like a nightmare. If you want actual flexibility in ability groupings & teachers to concentrate on their jobs, you don't want them to be caught up with paperwork and having to justify micro-decisions. Sets are supposed to overlap, anyway, teachers need room to experiment, adjust for personality conflicts, etc.

bowerbird Thu 11-Oct-12 14:56:34

Talkin I think you're taking anti-teacher-bashing to the extreme of teacher worship. Yes they are professionals and the vast majority do a fantastic job. Some aren't very good. But even the excellent teachers are also human, like any other professional. And humans make mistakes. Doesn't make them bad people, or bad teachers. It makes them human.

And teachers, like doctors or lawyers , shouldn't be above explaining why they have reached a decision.

lljkk - this is a serious question. Why would a more transparency create more paperwork? Why not a quick word?

I think what the OP wants, and certainly what I want is a bit more communication about how DC's are doing. I don't need a written report - a quick 1-2 minute chat can identify a problem that needs addressing or can reassure that DC is getting along fine.

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