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Too many parents employed as TA's

(34 Posts)
reallysayingsomething Sat 07-Jul-12 08:40:23

As title reads. Anyone with any experience of this. I have 3 DC's who attend a popular primary school. I am starting to get uncomfortable with the number of parents employed by the school. Out of the 16 classes, 9 have a parent working as a TA. There are also 2 teachers with children at the school. The employment process for TA seems to be to drop a CV in the school office and wait for an opportunity, no advertising whatsoever. Four of the TA's are good friends out side school and have all followed into employment, one after the other.

What's starting to concern me is that some children appear to think they have more 'power' than others, (no guesses to whose children). Many of the teachers are young teachers who appear to be rather fearful of upsetting the applecart. Many experienced teachers have left in the past 2 years. and there are families who have pulled their children out and registered at other local schools. (This would have been highly unheard of a couple of years back except for moving out of area etc)

There are a lot of unpleasant undercurrents buzzing around, I would like to know if other MN's have experienced a high proportion of parents working in school and what your opinions are on this. Many thanks confused

SophiaWinters Sat 07-Jul-12 09:05:33

Not at our primary school, there is I think one parent who now works in the office and her daughter will be leaving primary this year and another parent who is a TA who has two children at the school one of whom is leaving primary this year. Are you sure they're not parent helpers? Our primary has quite a few helpers but they're not employed, all are volunteers. Parent helpers are not assigned as a helper to their own child's class or even year group.

reallysayingsomething Sat 07-Jul-12 09:13:03

No they are most certainly employed. There are a number of parent helpers as well.

RiversideMum Sat 07-Jul-12 09:26:47

From what you say, it sounds like more of an issue about how the school is being led and run rather than to do with the number of parents employed. I would be concerned about the number of experienced teachers leaving and the number of children moving to other schools rather than the number of parent TAs. What happened 2 years ago to change things?

dajen Sat 07-Jul-12 09:28:25

Did the TAs start out as parent helpers? Lots of our parent helpers end up submitting a CV to go on file in the event of a TA vacancy arising. When a vacancy does come up there are usually so many interested that there is no need to advertise as the school has had plenty of time to assess their suitability whilst working as a volunteer. In addition many of them are doing a TA qualification in their own time with a view to obtaining a paid post at our school or elsewhere once qualified. Most of our TAs are ex parents - children soon move on but staff stay.

jo164 Sat 07-Jul-12 09:43:36

There are several teachers with children at my daughter's school - me included. None of us relish teaching our own children and luckily the timetable can be constructed so that this doesn't often happen. What I would say is that if anything we are harder on our own children than others - rather than giving them any kind of special treatment. The only thing that would concern me in your situation is that if the parents/TA's are not being formaly interviewed for posts, I hope that they have been made very aware of the fact they must not discuss children other than their own at the school gates - what they hear in school regarding individual children's behaviour/progress etc. is totally confidential. If you were to ever have reason to doubt their discretion, that is something I would be taking up with the school.
I also thought state schools by law had to advertise vacant posts somewhere? Maybe someone else will know?

ggirl Sat 07-Jul-12 09:45:48

Same as Dajen, most TA are ex parent helpers and their children have left the school ages ago.
I wouldn't be concerned about the helpers but about the experienced teachers leaving ..and what do you mean when you say ' upset the apple cart' ? Have you spoken to the new teachers ?

overmydeadbody Sat 07-Jul-12 09:54:23

Seems a number of possible issues are going on at your school, but I doubt it is a result of having TAs who are parents there.

I don't think there is any problem with employing parents as TAs, or even as teachers, if the school thinks they are the best person for the job. It shouldn't effect the running of the school. And in my experience Teachers and TAs with children in their school tend to be harsher on their own children than on others, never favouring them in any way.

I don't think schools have to advertise TA posts. But it could be down to the governors and what their policy is.

AbigailS Sat 07-Jul-12 09:55:48

I agree it appears your concerns lie more with how the school is run than with the TA situation. It is sometimes natural that TAs live locally to a school and so have children within the school. TAs often want jobs that fit in with their own children. The hours are often part time and the pay low, so people are not going to want to travel distances to work. If the school is rural it makes travel even less appealing. You also have concerns about teachers having their own children in the school and there have been threads about that it the past. Are you suggesting that if your own child joins the school a teacher should resign, or should the teacher send their child to a school miles away? I, personally do not choose to teach at my children's school (or vice versa) as I think it would be embarrasing for them and I feel I'd over compensate to avoid looking biased towads them and my DC would get a tougher deal. Saying teachers can't teach at their children's schools could deprive those schools of amazing teachers.

clam Sat 07-Jul-12 10:24:35

I recognise your concerns. We have a similar setup where I teach. If there truly are issues, then it's up to the Head to act. Ours has stopped children of TAs being in classrooms before school starts in the morning/end of the day, for instance, and no TA will be in the same year-group as their own child. We had some instances of the children concerned running to find their parent during the day to tell them of playground problems and suchlike. That's been stopped.

On the one hand, it can contribute to the "family feel" of a primary school, but one has to be careful that it doesn't escalate into a cliquey setup where other parents/children feel marginalised. And if 'younger' members of staff are feeling intimidated, then a) they need to 'man up,' and b) the Head needs to step in and act by splitting up cliques and so on.

FarrowAndBollock Sat 07-Jul-12 11:13:53

Very similar in our school. Also a certain 'type' of mother who is offered to. Apart from the concerns you mention, they are opening themselves up to a tricky tribunal situation if they are not careful as they would not be able to provide evidence of fair and diverse recruitment procedures.

reallysayingsomething Sat 07-Jul-12 11:25:19

Thanks for your response. Riverside. Not sure what happened 2 years ago. Existing head was in post then but lots of SMT have left. Abigail S. I'm not suggesting teachers resign at all. I'm just raising the concern that some (not all) parents within our school appear to think they have more power than the rest. It is actually a TA problem rather than teachers but I added that 2 teachers have children in school to show how many parents have children there. As Clam pointed out it is leading to a cliquey set up and many parents are starting to feel marginalised. Very interesting to read other MNetter's experiences with this and the good and negative sides of parental involvement. smile

shebird Sat 07-Jul-12 16:41:31

Similar situation at our school, some graduate from lunchtime helpers or parent readers to position of TA but it's certainly very cosy. There are also teachers with DCs at the school. What bothers me is that decisions on allocating teachers and TAs for each class are being based upon teachers and TAs avoiding being placed in their own child's class rather than what's best for that year group. As its a small school there are a limited pool of experienced teachers so my DCs are missing out on the benfit of certain teachers because they have teacher and TA kids in their classeshmm

auntevil Sat 07-Jul-12 17:16:29

In our LA, all TAs taken on as permanent staff have to go through the recruitment process and have qualifications/experience to back up their application. This experience is often volunteering, and the school then has first hand knowledge of that person's abilities - which can often mean that they an 'unfair' advantage. Realistically though, what would you rather have the school do? Take on a proven adult or an unknown quantity?
Personally, I think it makes it harder on the children of staff. Firstly, they know that if they do anything wrong it gets back to mum. If another child is unhappy with them, it gets back to mum. Mum makes sure that there is never any preferential treatment - as do other staff - so they often miss out on being chosen for 'good' activities so that no other parent can consider that there is bias.
We are not a small school though, and there is plenty of options for staffing other than being in the same class as your own child. But on the odd occasion that I have had to do cover, I find myself expecting 'perfect' behaviour - but not always getting it grin - and they do call me 'Miss Auntevil' at school grin

shebird Sat 07-Jul-12 21:00:45

IMO it does impact on smaller schools and there's a danger of the whole set up being run for the benefit go the staff and not the pupils. When deciding on the best teacher for DDs year group i dont think its right that the head has a smaller pool to choose from becase he has to juggle the needs of his teachers and TAs not wishing to teach their child. Its great to have a cosy family atmosphere in a primary school but I agree OP it can also get a bit cliquey.

Rockpool Sat 07-Jul-12 21:07:29

I hear you!!!!

Toughasoldboots Sat 07-Jul-12 21:14:24

There was an issue at my ds's old school with this sort of thing. It was a small school and lots of parents were employed there.
One mother ran the office, her husband was contracted to provide after school games and her sister was the lunchtime supervisor .
This caused huge problems which the head denied. It culminated in her obtaining the 11plus results ( which the school has two weeks early) and telling someone else who had passed and who hadn't .
I know that solicitors were involved and the county council.

I don't know what happened afterwards as we left that year. Her sister was always intefering in the playground squabbles to the benefit of her son.

I have to say that the teachers who had children there didn't display any favouritism, it's amazing what some of the support staff got away with though.

Hexenbiest Sun 08-Jul-12 11:15:49

16 classes doesn't sound like a small school.

My DC school has 16 classes including nursery - two each year though they are full which means its one of the largest schools in the area.

There are a lot of TA who are parents but they often started as parent helpers and go from there. I've never had a problem with them or know anyone else who has.

They are moved up and down the school though put with other teachers and years groups as required. I think they carefully vet them and impress the need for confidentiality.

It does sound like its an issue on how they are being managed and how their DC are being managed.

Fairyliz Sun 08-Jul-12 17:12:52

Get hold of the equal pops policy surely all of the posts have to be advertised? My Head is actively against employing parents for lots of the reasons noted above, so all vacancies are advertised externally.

reallysayingsomething Sun 08-Jul-12 17:48:04

Yes Fairyliz, you would think so! I have just spent the afternoon with friend whose DS is being horribly affected by the actions of a support staff DS. This particular staff member has a husband running after school activities, a SIL employed by the office. All too much!

UniS Sun 08-Jul-12 21:23:14

Isn't it likely that a school serving a small community will have people working and attending who are related in all manner of ways. The obvious nuclear family and also a range of cousins and in-laws.

DS is at a medium size school ( for our county where 16 classes would count as a large school and 4 classes is a small school). Currently no teachers kids- but there have been in the past. Administrator is related to children in school as are about half the TAs ( the rest have older children who have gone through and on to secondary) . ALL the MTAs are related to one or more children.

I'm OK with it. we live and work in a small community. I know the publican is related to the builder is related to the florist is related to the shop keeper is related to the preschool leader.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 08-Jul-12 21:24:15

I don't think there is a problem with parents working in the same school as their dcs. I know there could be problems with confidentiality, but I have witnessed this from a none relative of anyone at the school letting results slip. I do think that sometimes TA's aren't taught about data protection thoroughly enough. Also where else could these parents work? Another school may not be practical for school run. I think you should be grateful that gov are leaving them well alone and we have TA's

RosemaryandThyme Sun 08-Jul-12 21:27:50

If you can't beat em - join em.

The most concerning thing to me about your post is that some parents are moving children away - have you be able to chat with them about why ? - and your own children are (possibly ) being impacted through less experianced teachers than you would like - so really your considering moving them.

But your unsure - so - could you help ut on a school trip ? do the PTA bar-b-q, listen in to some reading ? anything to get in with a bit more of the gossip basicaly to help you decide.

LeeCoakley Sun 08-Jul-12 21:39:37

All TAs know about confidentiality and if there is a proven breach then they should be reported.

Most TAs will be parents of school age children because it suits hours and holidays so well. Because the pay is so low, they will not want to pay a lot in fares or petrol and all will prefer a position either at their child's school or one within walking distance. For a few years then, a new TA may have children coming through the school, but it won't last forever! I'm surprised at the unprofessionalism displayed in your school, at our school it's deemed a disadvantage to have your own children in school and no one teaches or supports in their own child's class. I don't think any of the children think it is an advantage either!

Parasaurolophus Mon 09-Jul-12 11:19:11

I am a professional who visits many schools. Visiting my children's school is always tricky.

DS loved it at first and quickly grew to hate it. He hated everyone announcing "your mum is here" and I think he hated the overlap between his home life and his school life. When I am at his school, I have been instructed to "pretend like you don't even know who I am; ignore me completely" I don't think children are advantaged when their parent is in school, I think it might be the opposite.

TA jobs pay very poorly. Often the only people willing to take the jobs are people who do not need to drive far and appreciate the hours. These people are usually mothers and are often more qualified than other candidates willing to work for that rate of pay.

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