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Is this normal? Parent-teacher conference

(59 Posts)
piez Tue 01-Dec-15 22:23:10

We had a parent teacher conference last week and besides the teacher and myself, there was a third person who was taking notes and wrote down everything we said. They never asked me if it was ok or even let me know that this person would take minutes and what the purpose was. This person just joined the meeting and started writing.

The teacher says that this is the standard policy. Do you also have someone taking minutes when you meet with your child's teacher? Do you feel that this is somehow a breach of our privacy? First, I don't appreciate having someone else listening to what we say, answering questions about how our life is at home and specific private issues my child has.

And second, I don't appreciate there being a record now of all of that, which other staff or even anyone could read (depending on how secure the school keeps things) without our knowledge!

Any opinions or advice please?

Wolfiefan Tue 01-Dec-15 22:27:53

Why didn't you ask who they were and why they were there?
Was this a regular yearly or termly meeting? Was it a response to concerns they/you had or a complaint?

alltheworld Tue 01-Dec-15 22:30:09

Very odd. Ask them for a copy of the notes

piez Tue 01-Dec-15 22:35:57

I know the person, she is administrative staff. The teacher said this person would join us and at first I didn't think much of it, until later I noticed she was writing everything down and didn't seem to have any intention of speaking. That's when I realized, halfway through the meeting, that the purpose of her being there was just to take notes. I was taken by surprised and admittedly, not confident enough to demand clarification at that point.

Regarding the meeting, it was just a regular parent-teacher conference. The teacher scheduled one with every family in the class. I don't know if there was someone taking notes in the other meetings though, I will ask the other parents.

But my question is, do other schools have this policy? Or is it just this school? What is everyone else's experience with parent-teacher conferences?

Wolfiefan Tue 01-Dec-15 22:37:02

We used to have mentoring meetings. Notes were taken then.

piez Tue 01-Dec-15 22:38:34

Thanks alltheworld. I already asked for a copy, I'll get it tomorrow. We are considering telling them we don't feel comfortable about there being a record of the meeting and that they destroy the records, but I am not sure that they are obliged to do that. Plus I don't want to start a confrontation but I don't feel that it was right...

MooseAndSquirrel Tue 01-Dec-15 22:39:54

Never had nor even heard of someone taking notes in a parent teacher meeting. Surely its counter productive to an open & honest relationship.

piez Tue 01-Dec-15 22:40:01

Thanks Wolfiefan. Were those mentoring meetings with just one family or as a group? Did you talk about private matters in the meeting that were then written down?

piez Tue 01-Dec-15 22:49:05

Yes, I agree, MooseAndSquirrel, having a third person listening and taking notes made me feel very uncomfortable and watch more what I say.

Leeds2 Tue 01-Dec-15 22:51:24

I have never experienced this. Or known of it happening.

alltheworld Tue 01-Dec-15 23:04:51

I don't know if you can ask them to destroy the notes but you should ask them to amend them if they are not accurate. Still bizarre.

BackforGood Tue 01-Dec-15 23:10:01

I'm not clear what sort of meeting you are talking about.
Presumably not parents' evening where you get a 5 min slot, and the whole school are having their 5 min slots, as - even if there were time for anything interesting to be said, there clearly wouldn't be enough administrative staff to allocate to all the teachers.
This must be a different sort of meeting.

At any meeting, it is helpful to have someone who is not involved in the meeting taking the notes, as it means they will be more accurate and everyone who should be at the meeting, can contribute. I would presume that those notes are shared with all at the meeting once they are typed up though.
I am puzzled what you would be saying that you would not want the school to make a note of - if it's not relevant to the child, then why are you telling them ?

Bunbaker Tue 01-Dec-15 23:18:56

What exactly is a parent teacher conference? I have never heard of them.

We have parents evenings at school and that is it. If I have any concerns about DD's wellbeing at school I can have a meeting with the learning mentor. I would expect her to take notes at that because it is a big school and I would want a record of what we discussed.

piez Tue 01-Dec-15 23:30:19

Backforgood and bunbaker, at our school, the parent teacher conference is a meeting with the teacher of about 30 mins to talk about the child. We get to ask questions about how the child is in school, his/her progress, etc, but the teacher also asks questions about our life at home or anything she feels is relevant plus we talk about other sensitive stuff like disabilities, learning difficulties, etc.

I wouldn't have a problem with the teacher herself taking a few notes. The problem is having a third person who is not an educator, listening to private things that don't concern her. Plus I don't see the need for there being a record of everything private we say about our child, our relationship to her or our home life, that other people could read without our knowledge or consent.

Bunbaker Tue 01-Dec-15 23:59:32

This must be a small primary school?

There are 1500 students at DD's secondary school. The teachers just don't have time to have half hour meetings with every parent.

piez Wed 02-Dec-15 00:05:04

Yes, it is a small school Bunbaker. But I hope you see my point about the minutes being kind of inappropriate in this situation?

MrsLeighHalfpenny Wed 02-Dec-15 00:11:04

It's probably for the protection of the teacher. So you can't acccuse them later of saying/not saying something they did or didn't say. But you could and should ask for a copy of the minutes to check they are accurate.
You should be able to rely on the member of staff's professionalism and integrity enough to be confident the content of your discussion won't be bandied about, and will be kept in a secure place.
Presumably all parent teacher meetings had a minute taker, not just yours?

piez Wed 02-Dec-15 00:33:27

I am planning to ask the other parents but the teacher said it is the standard procedure so I hope that is the case, and not that we have been singled out for some reason!

BackforGood Wed 02-Dec-15 20:02:47

I don't see your point about there being a minute taker, no.

Anything that was discussed in the meeting should be minuted. It seems an absolute luxury for the teacher to have someone to do that, but, anyone employed by the school is bound by the same standard or discretion, integrity, professionalism - call it what you will - as the teacher.

You should ask for a copy of the notes that were taken, and if you feel anything is inaccurate, then challenge it, but you can't really complain that the school took notice of what you said confused

piez Wed 02-Dec-15 21:17:15

Well, I disagree and apparently I am not the only one of this opinion, as you can see from the other's responses. The parent-teacher conference is meant to be a confidential meeting about personal information and at the very least, the school should have let me know this person would be taking notes and asked if it was ok.

rollonthesummer Wed 02-Dec-15 21:21:06

This doesn't sound like a normal parents evening. Half an hour for every pupil! Is this an LEA-run state school in England?

BackforGood Wed 02-Dec-15 23:24:42

I have read, and re-read all the responses, and there is only one (MooseandSquirrel) who seems, like you, to think it is somehow wrong.
Everyone else thinks the whole meeting is very unusual - the half an hour thing, and the fact there is a member of staff available to take notes - not the fact that, in a meeting of that length, then obviously notes would need to be made in order to remember what was being discussed.

piez Wed 02-Dec-15 23:32:58

That is your interpretation of their answers, I am afraid.

IguanaTail Wed 02-Dec-15 23:35:11

This is a US thing isn't it? We don't have parent-teacher conferences like that here. We have parents' evening where each parent tends to have 5-7 minute slot with their child's teachers. And we don't say "educators". Detective Iguana there.

We have a member of the admin team to minute meetings for exclusions and other meetings where a really accurate record needs to be taken. It's useful because it is hard to talk and listen and make notes at the same time. We send the minuted notes to parents. If we were having a half hour meeting we probably would ask someone to take minutes. I just can't see how that would be practical across a whole school.

I have no issue at all with the confidentiality of office staff. They really aren't interested in your child. They are trusted adults in a school and if their job is to minute a meeting then I wouldn't be at all bothered. You should have been introduced and been told about being sent a copy of the minutes and a deadline to let them know if you felt anything was minuted slightly inaccurately.

piez Wed 02-Dec-15 23:41:39

Thanks IguanaTail, I agree with you that perhaps if the teacher had simply let me know what was going on, why the minutes were being taken, and that I'd get a copy later, then I wouldn't have felt so uncomfortable!

I spoke to another parent today and they also took minutes at her meeting. They also didn't tell her in advance and she felt it was rather intrusive...

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