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Policy on allowing parents into School (primary)

(24 Posts)
sb82 Wed 12-Oct-11 18:42:36

My son's school doesn't allow parents past the school gate in the morning. There are big high fences up around the whole school and teachers stand at the gates preventing entry to anyone apart from children. If you need to go to the office for any reason, you have to ask the teacher at the gate.

The main concern I have though is that I have a total lack of contact with my 6 year old son's teacher. For instance if he is feeling a little under the weather in the morning I am unable to let his teacher know. I haven't seen his classroom yet this year and we only figured out a week ago what the procedure is for handing in homework (after three missed deadlines).

You can talk to the teacher at the end of the day, but when there are thirty parents all wanting to do the same thing with the same teacher, it's not easy!

Is this normal? I don't remember it being anything like that when I was a child.

SandStorm Wed 12-Oct-11 18:44:36

At our school parents are not allowed into the classrooms which the children enter immediately upon arrival. Any messages can be left with the teacher on duty at the gate which are passed on. This works well IMO.

lovingthecoast Wed 12-Oct-11 18:46:28

This is not normal but Ive seen it before. In fact, I taught in a school just like this for 2yrs. It was a horrible place devoid of all the things that should make a primary school good and worse still was that ofsted rated it outstanding due to sats results.

Primary schools that do not have an open door policy towards parents are weird IMO and I certainly wouldn't want my children going to one.

Sorry, probably not what you wanted to hear!

snowball3 Wed 12-Oct-11 18:49:32

Good grief, our classroom doors are open to the playground from 8.35 until 9am and parents can pop in anytime for a chat with the teacher or TA who will be in the class.Children can come in from 8.45 until 9(unless it's raining when we let them in at 8.35. After this time the doors are shut and parents need to go to the front door and call in the office to leave a message. All teachers are also on the playground after school too. I usually have a little queue of parents at the door waiting patiently for the previous parent to finish before coming in for a chat.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 12-Oct-11 19:00:14

Our school is tight on security within the school building. Visitors (including parents) only allowed as far as Reception and have to be signed in to go into the school itself. And only approved volunteers (with CRB checks etc) are allowed in unaccompanied, after they have signed in, and with ID badges which are different to staff ones, so that it is easy for staff to tell what their role is.

Before and after school, parents have free access to the playground and it is possible to see your child's teacher briefly during that time. The playground gate is locked after the children have gone in for Registration and not opened again until 10 mins before kick-out time. This seems perfectly sensible, since there are a number of children who would undoubtedly do a runner, given the chance!

The school has an "outstanding" for safeguarding, so I presume this is all regarded as OK by Ofsted.

Elibean Wed 12-Oct-11 19:08:08

Sounds sad. I presume there are good reasons for it all? Our school is very open, and until this year parents could take their children right into their classroom if they wanted to (although discouraged from Y1 on) whilst still in Infant School. This year they can't, because of building works, but they can still see them to the door of each classroom.

In Juniors, you see them off at the door - but teachers are out in the playground until the bell goes at 8.55, to chat and be available for any emergency messages etc.

There is also an open door policy for Reception classes, and parents can ask to visit assemblies, etc.

We are lucky in that the premises mean no one can get into the school without walking past hte front desk, which is always manned - hence there is security, but openess too.

ragged Wed 12-Oct-11 19:13:35

You should be able to ring the office at any time and get a message thru; or go leave a confidential note with the staff to pass to the teacher as a matter of urgency.

Even with OP's set up I don't see why you shouldn't be able to get a important message thru. And anything that isn't urgent should be able to wait until end of the day when teacher will have less else on their minds and can give more attention and time.

ragged Wed 12-Oct-11 19:19:18

if 30 parents all want to talk to the teacher at end of day, every day, either there are A LOT of issues in that particular classroom or a great many helicopter parents at the school?

In theory our school allows daily morning access to each teacher, in practice it's pants because it's physically difficult to get anywhere near the teacher (have to wade thru a congested sea of heavy bags-laden small children and their parents first, just hope you don't have any loose preschoolers to tow along, too, or God Forbid a Pushchair), and then everybody stands and watches while you chat, so much for confidentiality!

Give me a note or phone call to the office instead, any day.

ragged Wed 12-Oct-11 19:20:55

...oh, and of course in the morning half the parents drop and run so the teacher you're trying to chat to is barely able to listen because their pupils keep chatting to them all the while OR are at high risk of misbehaving with no other supervising adults to keep them in order.

'Course I ranted about it on MN before and got told this was perfectly normal at every other school so I should just suck it up, sigh.

lovingthecoast Wed 12-Oct-11 19:56:28

Closing the gates throughout the day is fine, as is school being fully aware of who is in the building at all times. An open door policy does not have to mean literally having the door open all day for anyone to come and go as they please.

But a school who does not allow or even encourage a parent from arriving a little early and asking at reception if they can speak to their child's class teacher is unacceptable IMO. The relationship a school and the individual teachers have with parents is very important. I always stepped outside with my class even when teaching Y6 just in case anyone needed to grab me. I also stood in the cloakrooms each morning for the same reason. As well as this, I tried to ensure that I 'grabbed' each parent at least once over the year to come in and see a piece of good work. Just a casual, 'Your DD did a lovely piece on Henry VIII for me yesterday, would you like to read it?' Or, 'I am so pleased with how hard he has tried in maths this week. Jack, would you like to get your maths book to show Mummy?' I always found parents (and kids) really appreciated this.

pointydog Wed 12-Oct-11 20:19:17

The teachers at my school are too busy working before and after school to have parents popping in all the time to say John's feeling poorly or whatever.

Pupils come in with notes or comments in homeowkr jotters or reading records or whatever. If a parent needs to speak to a teacher, they phone in to request an urgent conversation or meeting.

LingDiLong Wed 12-Oct-11 20:31:52

Our school has a similar dropping off policy - we have to leave the kids in the playground and there's a teacher on the gate.

BUT all the teachers are very approachable, they emphasise that they want us to see them if we have any problems/queries and it's easy enough to speak to them at the end of the day. It's also a small school so I'm happy to speak to whichever teacher is on the gate that day, even if it's not my DC's one.

So, I'd say it's not the dropping off policy that's the problem it's more the lack of communication/approachability.

An0therName Wed 12-Oct-11 20:41:58

I think in the morning normally I wouldn't try and talk to the teacher - if you get a chance in the afternoon I don't think its a problem - and as someoelse said it seems suprising that everyone needs to talk to the teacher-although I do prefer it when parents have access to the school yard - having had it both way rounds at different schools - the yard is looked during the school day

lovingthecoast Wed 12-Oct-11 21:46:12

Pointydog, I think it's very much part of the job to make yourself available after school to talk to parents. Of course there is plenty of work to do but making yourself approachable and available without notice is also important. Things come up and parents should feel free to come in and ask for 5mins.

pointydog Wed 12-Oct-11 22:40:04

Yes, coast but it's possible to do with a system where parents ask at the office to have a quick word with the teacher on an urgent matter or phoning in at the end of the day, as opposed to teachers hanging around in the playground at the end of every school day talking about children's slightly sore heads and suchlike.

There's a difference between being approachable/available and hanging about every day in the playground to talk to thirty parents about all sorts.

lovingthecoast Wed 12-Oct-11 22:46:16

Well I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. smile
I'm not talking about anything urgent, I'm talking about them feeling free to grab me for 5mins to chat about any old rubbish-not serious or urgent stuff. Just to make small talk or to mention something they might not feel able to make an appointment for.
I always felt that offering parents time to chat about nothing really meant that when they did need to see me about something important, they saw me as less aloof and more approachable.

lovingthecoast Wed 12-Oct-11 22:49:55

It's like a friend of DH's who is a GP. He will tell you about the numerous appointments throughout the week where he sees people totally unnecessarily. They are usually elderly patients who really only want to chat for 10mins. He knows that technically that's not his job and that it stops him getting other stuff done but he sees this as a service that GPs need to provide to the elderly and vurnerable in their practice.

hillyhilly Wed 12-Oct-11 22:55:30

My dd's infant school allows everyone in from 8.40 until school starts at 8.50. It means that the parents get to know each other and the staff, office staff, ta's and the teachers themselves and to see what the children are working on in class, how they behave with their friends etc etc
For me it also means that ds will know the school and staff inside out when he goes there next year.
It is a great school, and this is one of the many things that make it so (ofsted thought so too when they gave it an outstanding this year)
I know that it will be different at juniors but think that this is the right approach for infants.

pointydog Wed 12-Oct-11 22:59:24

What do you mean theGP sees them unnecessarily? Does he make house calls?

Fifis25StottieCakes Wed 12-Oct-11 23:18:17

Our school had an open door policy last year and has now changed to having to sign in at reception before 8.45 and after 3.30. I think its a good idea as parents and grand-parents were just walking in and out of school. Ofstead put in report that the school wasnt secure. The gates are now locked at 8.55 and dont reopen until 3.15.

dearheart Thu 13-Oct-11 09:37:28

pointydog you sound lovely! My dd's teachers are fine with me saying 'dd isn't feeling well today' - they even say 'thank you for letting me know, I will keep an eye on her'.

OP, I would just pop into the office whenever you have something to tell the teacher or write a note. I would also request a quick after-school meeting with her so that you can discuss the homework issue etc.

sb82 Thu 13-Oct-11 09:58:15

Just wanted to thank everyone for their input...lovingthecoast - you sound like just the sort of teacher I had imagined we would get when I first sent my son to school, but in reality I know a lot of teachers are not like you.

There was a new head teacher appointed about 3 years ago and he was the one to introduce the new security measures. Don't get me wrong, I would rather know that my son is safe and secure within the school between school hours, but it would be nice to be able to have contact with his teacher occasionally just to know how he is getting on.

It still amazes me that he happily walks through the school gate in the morning with very long walk to his class on his own and gets there without any problems and yet he still struggles at home going upstairs on his own without me being with him (potential goblins lurking under beds).

I sent him in this morning with a post-it note stuck to his head to remind him to hand in his homework...he thought it was great!

Butkin Thu 13-Oct-11 10:03:07

Relieved that our DD's school takes a more relaxed approach. Up to the end of Yr 3 we're allowed to take them all the way to the classroom door. If necessary we can give quick messages to the teacher or ask questions. Nobody takes advantage and everything runs smoothily.

Now DD is in Yr 4 we drop off in car park and she goes in by herself and we ring the office if we have any questions (such as is the match on today due to the weather etc).

pointydog Thu 13-Oct-11 20:49:40

I am lovely, thank you. Nothing wrong with sending in a little note about illness. People can request meetings any time.

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