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Calling pushy parents-help me assert myself at teacher meeting tomorrow! sorry long

(27 Posts)
zenlikecalm Sun 05-Jul-09 07:37:52

DDs are 8 (end August birthday) and 6, Yrs 4 and 1 in UK. We moved to a new town and school at the end of November, mainly in order to attend a better smaller state school. To give you an idea, the old one got all 3s in last OFSTED (and I've watched obviously declining esp in behaviour) and new one got all 1s. I agree there is more to life than ofsted, but I just knew we had to get out of there!

DDs were "G&T" in old one but I felt this reflected the school more than them, they just like to read a LOT and don't cause trouble-teachers love that. New school helped them fit in and they like it, eldest has endlessly told me she is the top of the class in every subject (more on that in a minute). My problem is this-it's even more of a "Keep out, parents!" place and I am getting even less clues about how they are actually doing.

So when we got the school reports in which they were very unremarkably average in almost everything, I'm fine with that, but when I called to arrange the teacher meeting as the accompanying letter invited, it was like I was a huge trouble maker! Apparently no other parents had arranged an appointment, "It's all there in the report". I insisted as we are new, plus the report's main point said the exact opposite of last years, about DD1s effort and presentation of her work. So has she changed or is the standard of the school or Yr4 different-she never brings anything home so how can I tell?

So what, you might say. She's average, what's to worry? But in the past, DD1 began to suffer from migraine attacks (GP thinks) that got worse in yr 2 and start of 3, esp when attempting maths. I gave her more help with it, she found it easier, got moved up a table and the migraines stopped. Guess what started again in May? She's now had 6 days off school (spread over 6 weeks) with intractable pain-more than she's had off in her entire school career in total!

She's now admitted she is not on the "clever" kids tables in ANY topic (this child read all the Harry Potters at 6 and yes she understood them, and has insatiable interest in several topics) and the kids she has been put with are noisy and don't bother much about the work. When she finishes, they aren't allowed to read for pleasure as in old place, but are expected to quietly sit and double check their work (sounds like she needs to, but won't and resents the loss of a treat for finishing). She says they can't even do anything fun for wet play. The heat has made it all come out (and probably set off the migraines).

So I know not to mention the words gifted or bored (an issue for dd2 who also has read and reread all the HPs). How can I get the school to give me more timely and useful feedback next year? I don't actually know how to make her present her work better, I don't have a remote control! I need to see the actual work more often, but it's parent unwelcoming.

I could read with the class which is useful to spy on the school, but I did that in the old school with Yr 6 and I had problems staying awake! Plus I work with a long commute now.

Please advise, this week has been ghastly and I don't know where to start.

Berrie Sun 05-Jul-09 07:48:03

I can't believe they are refusing to see you. You could insist. You might find that things are different in the next class. (assuming that she is moving to another)

Are there things you still want to know or do you want things to change? If it is to change things then there is not much point with this teacher. You could have a brief word with the new teacher in September re. migranes, allowing that she won't really have much idea about dd for a few weeks and she can keep an eye on her knowing that you'd like some feedback once she has settled in.

piscesmoon Sun 05-Jul-09 08:10:57

Schools write the report and then they do their utmost to discourage parents from coming in! They are obliged to see them but try and word it so that they don't! In a way there isn't a lot of point because you are almost at the holidays and will be having a fresh start in September. However I would insist on discussing the report, I remember insisting once with DS2 because I felt there was a need. It might be worth getting an appointment with the Head.
The most important thing is to see her next teacher very early in the term.

zenlikecalm Sun 05-Jul-09 08:12:49

Thanks Berrie, they aren't refusing to see me, it's more a general attitude, "We are outstanding, you got a very long (copy and paste) report, who are YOU to bother us very busy people". And despite this and feeling very intimidated (I am a wimp) I have insisted!

zenlikecalm Sun 05-Jul-09 08:22:51

It's true there isn't much point with this teacher, but I need to understand how to avoid this happening with her in this new school. She does not always tell the truth, but is wants my and the teacher's approval, and more and more of course her new friends approval. I think she has not found the work very interesting this year either and is starting to think why bother. She's motivated by how people react to what she does, never seemed to get much pleasure from actually doing most things, even playing with toys.

Berrie Sun 05-Jul-09 09:46:01

Let's hope that her new teacher is more responsive to her needs.
I think the cut and paste reports are a waste of everyone's time and I've 'written' hundreds like them myself!

cory Sun 05-Jul-09 10:27:42

This sounds a very odd school. At our school they expect parents to turn up at parents evening and look askance at the parents who never do.

zenlikecalm Sun 05-Jul-09 11:06:44

Yes, that's why I was so surprised that they don't want to see me, after all it's in their interest too that she be helped and not be made ill.

The last school had its problems, but you were definitely meant to show up. And I did. I feel like I've always tried my damnedest to conform to what the school wanted from me as a parent, but now it's time I focussed on the real point of it all, my children, one of whom I fear is turning into a bright underachiever, doing all she can to blend in socially at the expense of feeling happy about her work (the recent headaches started before we had any inkling she wasn't doing as marvellously as she kept saying.)

clam Sun 05-Jul-09 11:15:20

I'm curious as to how they got outstanding in their Ofsted if they're unwelcoming to parents. There's some feedback you could give next time round!

Sorry, that wasn't any help to your current predicament. You are perfectly within your rights to speak to her teacher about the concerns you have. Even if she thinks you're trouble now, she will change her mind if you present your case as you did in your OP, calmly and rationally, just wanting to know how to help. You know the words to avoid.

Have confidence in your opinions - at the end of the day it's your child, not hers and you should be able to discuss it with her.

hocuspontas Sun 05-Jul-09 11:35:26

Sounds like she is finding the work more difficult. There should be no rewards for finishing quickly! You don't get the best work that way. Maybe she hasn't adapted yet to the different way the classroom is run.

Make an appointment with the teacher - so what if you're picking up reticence, it's your right to discuss your child. Ask how you can help her next year.

Good luck!

zenlikecalm Sun 05-Jul-09 16:17:19

Thanks! Maybe its partly my fault, it's like most mums don't WORK around here, how ghastly, darling.

My intention is to do something about it starting now and over the summer-maybe y'all on here have tips for "presentation"??!?!. Some sort of fun projects that somehow NEED to look nice to show Granny etc. Not too time consuming or big, or all that interesting even! she always overdoes things and bores the pants off everyone if it's one of her obsessions.

I agree about her presentation-I took time off work in order to go to the single 30 minute slot (starting 20 minutes later than scheduled so I was even later) offered to parents to see their work in June that had to do for both kids. They didn't let us see ANY written work for the Yr1. For the yr 4s, I had a very good look at everything; her actual content and handwriting are good, but she wobbles all over the page, never uses a ruler or illustrates anything (tho loves art and draws very well), never writes her name date title despite being reminded again and again. Sticks pics in scrunched in a ball, on top of what she has written about it, with a blank page yawning emptily opposite. This, "quick, throw whatever out and someone will praise me, then I can go back to my book!" attitude seems to have got really ingrained, and extends to putting anything away and helping at home, and she continually loses everything even in her drawers of the class (very distressed if anything of hers lost or ruined by neglect mind you!). She is the youngest in the year, always, and I think 8 is a scatty age, but my 6 year old always had her head screwed on much better about her own precious "stuff", so this is a bit specific to DD1.

zenlikecalm Sun 05-Jul-09 18:54:54

We did do a stint of Kumon and it helped with the math anxiety but I don't think I can bear that again. Now I'm looking at Explore Learning and Kid McGrath which are both drivable to, by way of a confidence boost.

risingstar Sun 05-Jul-09 22:32:32

Your DD1 sounds much like mine was at 8. Was not a completer finisher-far more interested in reading a book. Endlessly told that her handwriting/maths/presentation was not up to scratch. It used to drive me to distraction. I tried various things to improve her maths, endless extra work books and things-she was convinced she was no good, i thought her self esteem was suffering dreadfully.

Well, she is 14 now.Expected to get 11 gcses all at A-C. Including maths! I paid for a tutor last year and she moved up in maths from a level 5 to a level 7 in a term. However, that was because she was ready to apply herself and could see that not getting a pass in maths would be no fun.

I think what i am trying to say is..if she is bright at 8 she will always be bright. We have the benefit of non selective secondary here so no sweating about proving oneself for the 11plus. She will mature, she will suddenly get that if you have to go to school you might as well do well. She will at some point have teachers who get her- this makes a real difference. Its a long journey ahead.

I think that if your DDs are changing teachers in sPET, i would put my effort into seeing their teachers 3 weeks into the new term, rather than raking it all over with teachers who will have no input in the future!

zenlikecalm Mon 06-Jul-09 05:33:57

Thanks risingstar, that's comforting! We also don't have a selective secondary and it's very good so I feel relieved about that. You're right I don't need to sweat this one do I?

I hope my DD1 one day finds effort is its own reward, but I guess it was a bit of a steep one for her with the move, and in yr 3 she had a teacher she really loved and wanted to do well for, and supportive friends who admired her abilities as she did theirs. A hard act to follow for a kid who is focussed on others-she's continued to be very kind and caring towards all she meets. I can tell she is negotiating a minefield in a class that's mostly girls, obviously more competitive with some very strong longstanding alliances, and as always everyone else is nine and she is nearly 2 months away from that. She did get top marks in one topic-RE. It can be hard for our very academic family to remember what matters sometimes.

I will go to the meetings but only to find out more about specifically how they are meant to present their work (I'm foreign, went to horrible schools and we never had any of this fancy underlining, ink pens, etc.). My handwriting is terrible unlike hers, but I only got marked down for that, not the whole piece of work! My other child also needs some pointers as she only made one friend who promptly moved away, and makes no attempt to disguise that she hates Barbie and HSM. Soon like her sister she will decide whether to disguise her personality which will probably extend to her abilities, or have no friends like her parents.

happywomble Mon 06-Jul-09 10:13:05

The system of giving out reports and discouraging you from coming for a parents evening infuriates me.

DS is in his third year at school and the only really informative parents evening was reception when we talked through the result of the foundation stage. I expect this term we will get the Sats results and that will be that.

I would love to have a parents evening where you could hear more about how your child gets on with their peers, whether they answer up in class, how they are doing at sport, music etc. With the odd nice anecdote/recollection thrown in.

It seems that parents evenings are being reduced to just asking you whether you have any queries, rather than the teacher giving a full appraisal of your child (good and bad points).

In answer to OP you are not being a trouble maker. Make a list of all the queries you have and ask the teacher for a meeting.

lottysmum Mon 06-Jul-09 10:28:50

I cannot believe that you are discouraged from discussing your daughter's work and what you state is an Outstanding school...

My dd's school have an open door every Wednesday pm...when any parent can go and see the teacher about any concerns they may have...they go that extra mile.....

I'd pop a letter into them...that may kick them into action!

zenlikecalm Fri 25-Sep-09 11:49:41

This is still going crap, I am so angry. I tried to arrange to see them and they persuaded me to wait until the usual meetings in late October. For health issues, I had to do the headaches by letter, and now the other child is soiling herself- a brand new problem-this was dealt with by a phone call which is ok with me so far-but it can't go on!!!

How can I do anything with what they tell me, when I never see any of my child's work?

alison222 Fri 25-Sep-09 13:07:23

ZLC shock at the school's attitide.

Write them a letter, stating you are very concerned with things and that you need to have a meeting. State a timefreme for it - say in the next week or so and suggest some times you could be avaialble.

Do you think the health / soiling issues are related to anxiety? If so then there is no way you should be made to wait.
If it is then this should be your reason to meet, not seeing the school work and they should not put you off.

Good luck

cory Fri 25-Sep-09 15:25:33

No excuse for discouraging parents from coming in to talk to the teacher imo.

zenlikecalm Fri 25-Sep-09 17:47:49

I was wondering, has anyone here gone to see the teachers outside the usual parent evening? Perhaps without there being a major issue, i.e. your child is well behaved in their eyes and average. Or is it really just lip service when they say you can see them, and these meeting are for major mega meltdowns with very outwardly disturbed kids? I.e it's all to do with the school running smoothly, and stuff your family life or concerns as a mother.

Sagacious Fri 25-Sep-09 17:52:46

Can I just say that helping with the reading is NOT meant for parents to spy on teachers/the class.

Its actually to benefit the child who is reading to you.

I hope you were joking about barely staying awake.

[as you were]

teamcullen Fri 25-Sep-09 18:10:57

my DCs school has been classed outstanding too. We have 3 parents evenings and 2 reports each year when you are expected to go or make an appointment for a conveniant time.

When DS1 went back in September, I wanted to know how his new teacher was going to deal with his problems at literacy. I asked the first week back if I could see her, she asked me to give her a couple of weeks to get to know DS and see what his problems are.
2 weeks later she made time at the end of the day to speak to me.

I think it is very bad practice for a school to discourage parents from comming in to school. The point of parents evening is to discuss your DCs targets for the following term, whereas a report tells you how they achieved in the term past.

2kidzandi Fri 25-Sep-09 19:08:14

zenlikecalm when our son was in school we were unhappy from time to time about a few things. Firstly we had an opposite problem DS was in top set for maths, but struggled with math homework. I was worried that he was being pushed too hard in class. His teacher was happy to make an appointment for a few days later. No probs at all.

Another time we felt he was not getting the attention he deserved in class based on workbooks filled with the only the date and title of what he was supposed to do and no actual stuff, writing sloppier than it ever was at home, and his own description of having his requests for help ignored and consequently just giving up. This came up at the parents evening.

At that point we said we wished to drop in and see his books every few weeks so we could feel confident that he would get the help he needed whether the teacher was there or not. Again this (different) teacher had no problem with it. We dropped in twice between parents evening.

I have arranged meetings with the supply maths teacher and headteacher for other issues sometimes minor sometimes not. The School had open evenings every end of term for parents to ask questions of what was expected in each new keystage and to explain requirements. They held regular coffee mornings every thursday with the deputy head to discuss ways to improve school, help DCs discuss issues: even associated math and english help sessions for parents struggling to do home work with bright and gifted kids or dyslexia etc.

This is considered an average school.

In my opinion you are being too Zen about this. You need to get really angry. OF COURSE you should be able to talk to your DD's teachers and see their work. Stop being so nice to them, and letting them fob you off. If it helps remember how much tax you're paying. Actually I would have thought with dd's having so much time off they would be eager to see you!

zenlikecalm Fri 25-Sep-09 23:44:39

thanks teamcullen and 2kidz

So it IS being fobbed off in your opinion in a state primary, to have asked to see the teacher in July, been put off, waited till a few weeks into new year with new teachers, then be told to wait for another 4 weeks and just go to another of those regular meetings where I'm told everything is fine but with no specifics.

So I CAN ask to see their school work-how often do you think?

The youngest tells me the same as you had 2kidz, if there's something she doesn't get right away, usually some kinds of maths, there's no one really available to help her, as a result she doesn't finish the work, misses something fun perhaps but rather than succeed with it, that topic ends and they are doing something else the next day or week. She's very super at some things, so it's as if well on average she's ok so just forget it. But SHE minds (I don't know what they are doing so just see she's cross and hear a garbled description-hard to explain something you didn't understand!). My eldest had many empty workbooks and entire pages of wrong sums that I only saw at the end of the year in y 1. Also I think a little help from me is available and would go a long way, I have destroyed my own career to fit into school hours, but what is the point if I don't know what they are working on? Am I just to bake cookies and drive. Maybe they are right, let them sink or swim?

brimfull Sat 26-Sep-09 00:00:18

It is not pushy at all to speak to the teacher about your child whether you are concerned or not.
The end of the day is a time we are encouraged to speak to teacher if any problems but I know of many parents who ring up and are seen very quickly.

I think it's very bizarre that you are not encouraged to talk to the teacher considering your dcs may be having problems.

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