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I don't like this threat much, and I am not the only one

(99 Posts)
flyingmachine Tue 03-Feb-04 23:22:10

opinions needed from the borg, please!

My son is in year 5 and will soon be going on a week long school trip to an outdoor centre in the Lake District with his class. All parents have coughed up the required nearly £200.00 for this little jaunt.

However, a week before the deadline for payment, we were all given a letter from the school. It stated that any child missing their weekly golden time for 2 out of the next 8 weeks would not be allowed to go on the trip. No exceptions to this rule. Parents have been asked to sign a form stating that they are aware of this proposal.

Children miss a golden time if they are given a certain number of bad marks during the week. It's part of a reward/punishment system, but suffice to say that missing a golden time is relatively easy to do. You don't have to be outrageously bad. Many boys and some girls on average miss one or two a term.

So we now have a situation where some children stand a very real chance of being banned from the school trip. As the banning will happen at a late stage, it is unlikely that parents will be reimbursed anything like their full £200.00 if this happens.

At least one boy has already missed a one golden time and is near to missing another one. And there is still six weeks to go!

Aa far as I am aware - and I have been asking around - in previous years these sanctions have not been imposed. And there was no warning that we would get a letter like this. But my son's year is seen as a 'difficult' year.

Taking the school's point of view, health and safety issues are of great importance on a week-long holiday. As the letter states, teachers cannot take responsiblity for children who do not follow instructions and generally misbehave.

But - if health and safely are such concerns, then surely the adult child ratio should be improved? if my son's year is full of 'difficult' children, why not get more adults to come along to help? is this beyond financial possibily?

I am lucky so far in that my son is behaving himself. I am prepared for the fact that he might miss one golden time in the next 6 weeks, but so far so good. However, it wasn't that long ago that he was missing golden times a lot and I know what it feels like to have a son who won't abide by small but important rules.

I know the mother of one of the children who has already missed a golden time. She is really worried and cross that her hard earned cash could be wasted. And if the worst happens, she will have to cope with a son who will be devastated to miss out, and singled out from his class in such a wounding way. In the end, parents have no direct control over how children behave in the 7 hours each day they are at school. And some teachers at this school give out bad points for things as small as leaving a shirt untucked.

And is it fair to punish children twice? they get their golden time taken away - plus they miss the holiday.

And what about the poor teacher, knowing a child is but one small mark away from missing a holiday - will they still give out that last bad mark? It puts them in a horrible position. Or what about a visiting teacher who gives out that last bad point not realising what's at stake?

Many parents, me included, have not returned our signed form. But from the tone of the letter, it looks like this will not affect the outcome anyway. Our signature is only meant as confirmation that we have received the letter. Has anyone any thoughts on this? it's been presented to us as a fait accompli.

Ps - yes, it's me again!

Oakmaiden Tue 03-Feb-04 23:26:49

Sounds really unfair to me.

lydialemon Tue 03-Feb-04 23:28:23

This seems very harsh, what are they going to do if a lot of children get banned?

And surely you have a contract with the school with regards to the holiday? They can't suddenly change the rules after you've paid. You could argue that if you had known about this earlier, you wouldn't have booked and paid for the trip.

I don't think they have any right to do this.

stupidgirl Tue 03-Feb-04 23:29:51

I think this is awful - surely they can't do this if you've already paid? (not that I would know )

Can you get together with a group of parents and complain together? Point out all the issues you have just set out here?

Linnet Tue 03-Feb-04 23:50:20

This sounds terribly unfair.

And surely they would have some obligation to give parents their money back if their child didn't get to go on the trip. Otherwise they could be seen as singling out children that usually misbehave/are difficult to control and then using their money for the benefit of the rest of the children. iykwim

I agree with stupidgirl, a group of you should get together and talk to the school.

hmb Wed 04-Feb-04 06:47:24

Regarding the extra support, I think that you might find it difficult to get people to go as it is a residential course, and most people would have the responsibilities of other children to look after and/or full time/part time paid work. As well as that the parenst would have to have a police check.....no-one would want their children to spend 24/7 unless everyone has been 'vetted'.

I do see where you are coming from ,and I do see that it must be a major worry for parents regarding the cost, and the upset to the children. But at the same time I do see this from the teachers side of things.

There have been *so* many cases of trips where something has gone dreadfully wrong, in the press. Teachers are getting very, very scared about organising and taking trips because of the potential risk. I don't think that I would choose to take a residential trip, because of the potential risks (and I'm talking about even a trip of 100% angels, as accidents can and do happen). And this is sad because kids get a lot out of these trips. Remember that teachers don't get paid any extra for this 24/7 care, and that they are optional.

All hell broke loose in our secondary school because kids were seen flashing out of the back of the school bus taking them to a residential trip. The parents had to be caled to take the kids home, and many of the parents didn't see why their kids were being sent home. The teachers felt they had been left with no other option. Parents felt that the school had over reacted to some harmless fun. The teachers had to think how the school would be represented by these kids, how their behaviour might deteriorate as the week went on and how other parents might feel about their children being 24/7 with boys who were prepared to 'flash' at 10.00 in the moring on a bus (it was a mixed trip).

So I suppose that I am trying to say that I can see both sides to this one, and hope that I don't get blasted off the site for saying it. I've just had a sleep over for my 7 year old, and I don't think that I would have asked children if I had a strong suspician that they wouln't do as they are asked in reasonable situations. Hope that this doesn't upset anyone.

robinw Wed 04-Feb-04 06:54:53

message withdrawn

FairyMum Wed 04-Feb-04 07:20:02

I also agree it sounds terribly harsh. You can miss one of these points for not tucking your shirt in? Really? I wouldn't even class that as bad behaviour. How bizzarre!

I think you should definatly talk to the teachers about this. Seems like you are not the only parent worrying about this either....

Is this a private school of some sort or a normal state school?

hmb Wed 04-Feb-04 07:21:38

Thinking some more about this, the school should have made it clear that this was the situation, before they took bookings.

It is a bit of a no-win situation for them I think. If they stop all trips because of the potential probelms the parents of 'good' (for want of a better word) kids will feel that they have been penalised unfairly. If they ban children who don't behave (to whatever level they set) their parents will feel that their kids are being treated unfairly, and if thet let eveyone go and there is a problem, then the S*** will hit the fan, and it will be awful for all concerned, staff, kids and parents.

And even if there are more helpers the ultimate responsibility is still the teachers.' Do you remember the recent case where the teacher was found responsible when a child sadly died? The child wasn't in the school but had gone along with a member of staff who was the mother, and was present on the trip. Regardless of this it was the teacher who was help to be responsible (which is fair IMHO). So teachers are very, very cautious about this sort of thing.

Jimjams Wed 04-Feb-04 07:44:54

I think the school have gone about this in the wrong way- they would be better of saying that so and so's behaviour hasn't been good enough in general tbh.

School trips is one area where children with disabilities which lead to challenging behaviour (eg autism) can be left behind without fear of the school contravening the Disability Discrminination Act- becuase there is "good reason"- its a safety issue.

The thing is schools often send the letter home inviting the child on the trip- when the child says yes please they say "oh whoops didn't mean you" and all hell breaks loose.

Hulababy Wed 04-Feb-04 08:46:56

Again I can see both sides of this. But I think the school has gone about it entirely wrongly. They should have set this out as a condition from the outset. I agree it is rather late in the day for such a threat, and I agree that the money issue is a big one too. I think, as parents, you need to go and discuss this with the person in charge of the trip (or the head?) to sort out what happens if a child is barred. And I would do this asap.

I can understand why the school would be wary of taking children who are likely to misbehave though. School trips are no picnic for teachers in general. And, I am afraid, that after recent news stories of trips going wrong - you can understand why they have to be so careful. They also don't want a trip spoilt for the other pupils too. Children who misbehave on school trips take up so much teacher time it isn't fiar on iother pupils there.

And ratios are kept down as far as possible so as to minimise costs for pupils. Most trips only allow for a certain number of free teacher places. Extra staff would have to be paid for - hence rising the cost for pupils.

aloha Wed 04-Feb-04 09:29:20

They did establish a contract legally when they took your money - ie £200 = trip for your child. They are now trying to amend the terms and that's not on. I think it's time to talk to the school and ask what is going on, what kind of misbehaviour will warrant exclusion and what happens to your money if your child is excluded. How old is your son?

flyingmachine Wed 04-Feb-04 09:42:40

There's no easy answer to this, is there?

I think the letter was ill timed. But even if we had known about the conditions from the outset, it would have caused problems between school and parents. Why? well every child is expected to go on the trip, so parents can't say 'no' to it.
And also, as far as I know, these conditions have not been spelled out for previous years.So our year has been singled out - unless the school intend to make this new policy for each year now.

I can't see why parents who are already police checked - and there are plenty of those at our school - can't come along if they are willing and free. After all, they go away on cubs and brownies camps and other things.

I have no idea if the school will carry out the threat - I implied earlier that my son will probably be all right - but really , I don't know. It's not nice having this hanging over us.

I do think issues of health and safety, and teachers' responsibility - are being taken increasingly seriously and can see why. But also, if teachers are so worried about this class, do they really feel that just 8 weeks of good behaviour in school can help guarantee good behaviour 24 hours a day on holiday? If they are worried, I am worried. I need some reassurance now. We have a group parents meeting coming up about the holiday and I suspect it will set off an 'interesting' discussion.

Has any other parent or teacher had the experience of seeing children banned from school trips? are threats carried out and what happens?

There's more I'd like to say, but I am rushed for time now.

flyingmachine Wed 04-Feb-04 09:43:38

aloha, just seen your message - my son is 9 years old.

WideWebWitch Wed 04-Feb-04 09:57:57

I agree, it's not on IMO. Sorry, no other advice to add but I too think it's a bit late in the day to start new rules about who should and shouldn't go on the trip. And it will be *awful* for any child who's excluded, especially if it's over something as trivial as an untucked shirt. I'd be trying to get the school to back down I think.

Hulababy Wed 04-Feb-04 09:59:52

flyingmachine - The problem with other adults going isn't who they are but the cost. When organising a school trip only a certain number of aduklts are allowed to get a free place. The others would have to pay. This cost would then have to be included on the cost to pupils. Would people be willing to pay more?

marialuisa Wed 04-Feb-04 10:04:00

There was a similar(ish) situation when i was at school but the pupil in question was 13. A boy was caught smoking dope on a nuclear base on a school trip, he was duly suspended and banned from going on any other trips for the rest of his time at the school. His parents were outraged as they'd already coughed up the money for a ski trip. the school refunded the money they were able to recover from the tour operator and taht was that.

9 year olds are obviously a bit different. I completely see the teachers point of view, as even the best behaved kids can get up to mischief on these sort of trips. I think the problem is the way the school have gone about it. It would have been better to say early on in the year that children with X negative marks at a certain point would not be allowed on the trip and to explain to the kids why they were doing this. As it is I think you need to ask the staff how they are going to ensure that bad marks are going to be dished out for really bad behaviour rather than trivial stuff like tie askew etc.

tamum Wed 04-Feb-04 17:05:19

I agree the school has left it a bit late, but I would bet money on there being some particular child or children they have in mind. Someone they know is going to be extremely disruptive, and they're trying to mask a specific exclusion behind a blanket ruling. I'd be amazed if children really get excluded from the trip as a result of minor offences; I hope they don't, anyway!

nutcracker Wed 04-Feb-04 17:16:37

Oh, i think thats incredibly unfair . Your right, that would be punishing them twice which is not on IMO.

jasper Wed 04-Feb-04 17:19:02

flyingmachine I am sticking my neck out but think it is reasonable to use the goldentime as a yardstick for behaviour being sufficiently good to go on the trip.
However if someone is deemed too naughty to go by the rules as stated (And as I understand it you were given advance notice for the period in question)a full refund is surely in order. Have they said otherwise?

I would be quite happy for my child to be judged by the rules of good behaviour as set out by the school, and I don't think the fact this has not happened in previous years is relevant.

Tortington Wed 04-Feb-04 17:32:33

its disgusting. teachers really make me dispair sometimes. have they not thought about money which may be lost.

i think that you should arrange a mtg with the headteacher ( i do this occasionally and she is very accomodating even if she is infuriating!!) you should mention that you need some kind of guarentee over what happens to the money - as parents cannot be held responsable for the behaviour of the children at school, school discipline is exactly that. i would also like to reiterate sueing in the small claims court - shit the life out of them! and tell her if you do not get a satisfactory answer you will be going to the papers.

i dont mind schools punishing the children as they see fit - but they certainly shouldnt hold YOUR money to ransom - cheeky gits

hmb Wed 04-Feb-04 17:46:23

Custardo, sadly many parents will not let schools disipline children as they see fit. Many , many parents will not let children do after school detentions (in the secondary I teach at). The children know this and simply will not behave. Generaly these are the children who are given most after school detentions. Do you honestly think that parents have *no* responsibility for a child's behaviour in school? So if a child punches another kid because he/she is totaly out of control, and has never been diciplined at home, that is *only* the responsibility of the school? Don't the parents have the responsibility to make sure that their children have some idea of how to behave? (and I'm not talking about conditions like ADHD od ASD here....just kids who are semi-wild because of bad parenting)

I expect my childrens school to carry out a reasonable standard of care, but it is my responsibility to make sure that my children know how to behave.

Tortington Wed 04-Feb-04 18:48:32

i didnt know that parents didn't allow children to do detention ( my son has been going into school at 8pm becuase he has a paper round after school and has had a weeks detention)

standards of behaviour are set by parents from birth. however i cannot disacipline within school hours. are you suggesting there is no discipline within school hours?

Tortington Wed 04-Feb-04 18:48:57

8AM not PM ffs!!

Tinker Wed 04-Feb-04 19:02:52

Do you actually know if you will get the £20.00 back or are you assuming you won't?

As an aside, your son's school's Golden Time seems quite draconian. In my daughter's school, you get a yellow card, the a red card then you miss just 5 minutes of Golden Time. Golden Time is half and hour so you'd have to commit 12 'sins' to lose the whole thing.

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