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"You have to remember this is an independent school"

(47 Posts)
abbieangel Sun 15-Nov-15 09:43:27

What exactly does this mean?

I know its an independent school. I am shelling out considerable sums to send my dc there. I sent my eldest dc there. There is a big gap between my eldest and my next two. I always thought I was " buying" a good environment for them to be safe in, a good education , which included being taught in small classes so they could do their best and some decent exam results. Whilst sport and other activities are important in an " all rounded" sense,they are not primarily important to me. Not so important for example,that my dc are taken out of classes to do sports fixtures or help with umpiring ( or even other dc are out of classes doing things and my dc are then being disrupted as lessons are re done when they return, or even their teachers always out doing something and my children being covered by someone else. The teachers may all be excellent but it is not the same.

Am I missing something here? Is this what Independent Schools are now about? Lots of extra curricular and activities and less emphasis on classroom lessons and good teaching? I do not recall any of this affecting my eldest. She got a string of GCSE and AAB at A level and went off to university. She still did extra curricular activities after school, not during lessons.

The school has an excellent ISI , excellent teaching, learning, pastoral care and a whole bunch of other things - but should I be considering taking them elsewhere? I want my dc in lessons, un disrupted by outside events , comings and goings and other things.

If this is an " Independent School" now and all are the same, should I send my dc state? Confused. Any experiences and advice.

SanityClause Sun 15-Nov-15 09:57:54

What they are saying is that you signed up for this school. This is a choice you made.

The point is, in sending children to an independent school, you are exercising a choice. If you are not happy with the policies and ethos of the school, You should have found one you were happy with, in the first place.

(Clearly, this works both ways. If the school had fairly universally unpopular policies, no one would send their children there, and it would go out of business.)

Of course, there is no one school that is perfect in every way for every single child that goes there. As parents, we need to choose the best fit for each of our children, and for our family as a whole. So if, in the main, this school fits your children well, you just have to lump the bits that you don't particularly like.

meditrina Sun 15-Nov-15 10:02:58

"Lots of extra curricular and activities and less emphasis on classroom lessons and good teaching?"

Yes, some schools are very much about this, and can do this because they are independent.

They are not all the same.

If you feel this specific school is not a good fit for your individual DC, then yes looking for one that suits better is the sensible thing to do. And yes, the best for might be a state school. Have you looked at the ones near you?

Fadingmemory Sun 15-Nov-15 10:05:29

Paying for education does not mean you get a programme tailored for your children. If you do not think the school that you chose is providing the education you feel your children deserve then shop around for another. You say nothing about whether or not your children are happy, though. That would to my mind be an extremely important consideration. Have you spoken to the staff about your objections?

MajesticWhine Sun 15-Nov-15 10:07:06

I imagine this meant that their actions are not governed by public bodies, which can be a good thing as it allows for a broader educational experience. So sport for example can be prioritised. My experience of the private sector is that it means they can do what the hell they like and they don't care too much what the parents think. You sign up for it and you don't have much say. How old is your child? Are they happy and doing well?

abbieangel Sun 15-Nov-15 10:10:04

But I was happy with this school. I sent my eldest there and I was more than happy with the outcome all round. Up until recently ( new Head), I had thought things to be reasonable. I knew there were niggly things. I really thought a new Head would improve them.

It isnt me who has changed , it is the school. Although they did not write and tell me , or even make any suggestion that they were changing things. I have had to find out from my dc. I suppose then new Head is looking ata different clientelle.

So, they are saying what? If I do not like it, ship out?

So,how do I make sure any other school I choose isn't doing the same? My experience is that most schools marketing is all hat and no knickers.

BrendaFlange Sun 15-Nov-15 10:13:32

There are some really poor private schools out there.

Is this one very sports obsessed and looking to keep its reputation high for matches won etc, so as to attract sporty parents?

Teaching is not necessarily better at private schools.

If you are not happy and the school have not addressed your concerns look around some other schools, private and state.

Of course schools are not the same. In any sector.

meditrina Sun 15-Nov-15 10:17:32

"So, they are saying what? If I do not like it, ship out?"

Yes, this is exactly what they are saying.

Molio Sun 15-Nov-15 10:18:16

This happens in state schools too. For example DD4, taking GCSEs next year, is missing two full days of school this fortnight, to play in a hockey tournament first and a netball tournament second. It's slightly on the heavy side but these things are important to her so I'm certainly not going to say no. I also trust her to catch up on lessons missed, but then she is conscientious and a very high achiever. If she was less solid I might be a bit more concerned. If you have doubts about your DCs' ability to keep up then say something, or if they object themselves maybe say they'd rather stay in class, but if they're able to keep up and enjoy it then why not go with the flow?

Molio Sun 15-Nov-15 10:21:01

This is a top state school incidentally - sport happens.

abbieangel Sun 15-Nov-15 10:22:59

Have you spoken to the staff about your objections?

I did indeed speak to staff, I spoke to my DC's class tutor to be precise and that is when I got given the quote I made the title of this thread.

For four weeks (before half term and up to now) my dc have not seen their Geography teacher for any lessons. He has been out of other engagements (my dc tell me its sports fixtures in other schools). The same went for English with the English teacher out on some play rehearsals or other. This is senior school, not prep. Then there was the PE teacher who was taking my own dc out of classes for fixtures because she was "needed" in the team - and this was happening weekly until my dc came home in tears with all the stuff she had missed and needed to catch up, and I got fed up, so I called up and complained.

I don't mind extra curricular things but not in lesson times.

Their reply as per the thread title.

But the upshot is my dc will no longer be selected for the school team..... but her teachers will still bog off on all the fixtures and leave the classes to be covered. I do not personally call that an independent school education but whatever. I am very annoyed. I think other parents might be rumbling but not speaking out.

happygardening Sun 15-Nov-15 10:25:27

IME of independent school most pride themselves on offering lots extra curricular activities but only the very non selective place less emphasis on lessons exam results etc in fact now a days even those who educate Tim nice but dim are very conscious of exam results.
One would hope good teaching is imprtant to all although in my personal experience one mans good teacher is another mans confusing rambling incompetent teacher.
Even at DS2's school where sport is definitely not top of its list of priorities boys miss some lessons, even a whole day for sport fixtures and they also regularly go cultural trips to museums opera etc, and as they're not in London and most of the trips are I suppose again they miss lessons, I personally haven't given it a moments thought until I saw you're thread don't think it's the end of the world, it has not had any impact on his exam results, and in fact probably the opposite I would be annoyed if hasn't had these opportunities. I guess they're expected to catch up anything significant missed in there own time, although I suppose if the vast majority of the class had missed a lesson they might go over it again in the next lesson, again I wouldn't be bothered. But then ultimately that's what I'm paying for; a broad education, I could have sent DS2 to an an exam factory for free.
With regard to ISI reports from my experience of the one generated after inspecting DS's prep their a pack of lies.

fiftyandfat Sun 15-Nov-15 10:28:48

You hold all the cards OP.
Take your DC and your money elsewhere.

Molio Sun 15-Nov-15 10:32:11

Agree with happygardening there are inevitably things such as visits for other year groups which take the classroom teacher away for a day or more - it's inevitable in a busy school. I've never tracked when a teacher is absent, I just know it happens and is bound to - but I don't fuss.

IguanaTail Sun 15-Nov-15 10:32:59

The class tutor can't do anything about the cover situation.

Your options are either to write your concerns to the headteacher and see if things improve or to find another school.

Mynameismummy Sun 15-Nov-15 10:34:41

Agree with your comments re school marketing! I've had a similar experience with my DCs and have just said I'm pulling them out of their school. We've found somewhere which (we very much hope!) will be better. Have a look at what's available - at the very least you're in a position to ask some very direct and pertinent questions of another school.

Molio Sun 15-Nov-15 10:37:01

It's very easy to say change schools but can cause problems socially, especially mid year and not at a usual entry point. Sounds like a simple solution but often isn't.

abbieangel Sun 15-Nov-15 10:39:21

My DC2 is in exam year, hence I am concerned. She may well not be the sharpest tool in the box but she isn't dim either. But with no teacher, she cannot catch up on her own. Her big sister did well in this school (also not top drawer academic - but got ABB in A Levels).

I chose the school because I believed they had a good balance between extracurricular and lessons. It seems the balance has changed since new Head arrived. I am not sure I can move DC2. this close on GCSE . I may have to get a private tutor for her. Youngest can go elsewhere though.

.... and despite the big push from the school, my DC2 will not be staying into Sixth Form now.

RealHuman Sun 15-Nov-15 10:39:59

I do have sympathy with OP's situation. It seems a bit unfair on the kids to suddenly change the way a school runs, its entire ethos, and say "if you don't like it, you can leave" - which will disrupt their education and mean they have to move away from their friends and their lives at a time when friendships and fitting in are important.

Sure, they can do this, but it's annoying, like any company vastly changing the service they provide for customers whose lives will be seriously affected by having to change provider.

Fizrim Sun 15-Nov-15 10:46:30

Do they mean that they don't have to provide a certain number of contact hours? State school generally provide 38 weeks of education, indies may not promise the same. My DD is in a state school (primary) and has frequently had the head of year as a class teacher, which means they generally have a day out of the classroom each week for admin purposes.

APlaceOnTheCouch Sun 15-Nov-15 10:47:54

A lot of independent schools pride themselves on their reputation in sports/theatre/music, etc. I would guess there was an element of that in the tutor's comment. They will have assumed it was part of the reason why you chose the school.

Obviously you can make it clear to them that wasn't the case. However, if the majority of parents are happy it's unlikely they will change so your options are to accept it or move.

we had to move DS. It actually was a simple solution.

Molio Sun 15-Nov-15 10:54:01

It's not usually easy peasy if a DC is happily settled with friends APlaceOnTheCouch, or the move would not be at a usual point of exit/ entry.

Muskey Sun 15-Nov-15 10:57:43

Dd goes to a private school which is very hot on sport. Dd is not sporty. We chose the school on academic record and pastoral care. Although the last time we spoke to the ht and I said we are not here for the sport he got a bit shirty with me saying how important it is etc However the kids who do all the extra sporty stuff don't disrupt lessons and neither is dd expected to help with competitions etc. I guess it depends on the school.

Kennington Sun 15-Nov-15 11:00:22

I agree the extra stuff can just be flannel
Fine a bit of swimming as it a life skill, some exercise and music if they are talented but all this theatre stuff drives me mad since it is a lot of time and energy. many children neither have the talent nor connections to get anywhere. X factor highlights this(slightly joking).
School should be a mix of hard and soft skills but I would be pissed off too if they are just doing sport all the time. Remove.

LIZS Sun 15-Nov-15 11:03:19

It isn't our experience of independent schools. Yes they might miss time for some sports fixtures or other extra curricular commitments but the student makes the lesson up and the class move on. Some degree of refresher takes place in each lesson, that is just good practice, and they have the occasional cover teacher if they are otherwise engaged, which is common in state schools too. For longer term absence specialist cover is arranged.

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