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DS1 in reception - his teacher is deputy and hardly ever teaching

(18 Posts)
sheeplikessleep Thu 25-Oct-12 09:22:35

OK, so DS1 started school a few weeks ago.

His teacher is also the deputy head and a really lovely lady, seems quite clued up and approachable.

We've got parents evening tonight and my biggest concern is the number of supply teachers that seem to stand in for her and how regularly this happens.

It's probably about half the times I pick him up, that the class has a supply teacher standing in. My understanding is that his 'main' teacher is off doing Deputy Head duties.

I have concerns about inconsistency in teaching, whether his teacher will really get to grips with how he is developing etc.

But am I worrying unnecessarily? I am going to raise it with her tonight. It wouldn't bother me in the slightest if it was a job share i.e. two permanent teachers. It's the fact it's a different teacher each time. I know it's just reception, would be worse if he was older, but still.

Any thoughts / experiences? Thanks

mummytime Thu 25-Oct-12 09:31:01

I would ask, but it could be that they are TAs? And are just doing the last 5-10 minutes as she has to get to a meeting.
My youngest had the deputy head as her teacher is reception, and to be honest even 50% of her time was well worth it, as she was such a brilliant teacher (pretty young too, but an amazing EYFS and KS1 teacher). But in your circumstance I would ask about when she is away and who is covering etc. We got a pretty detailed timetable of when the Class teacher would be there and when she was covered for by others. It also depends on what lessons are happening when she isn't there (PE, Art, Music etc. fine, Maths and English I'd prefer the class teacher to be there for).

redskyatnight Thu 25-Oct-12 09:31:30

My DS has the same when he was in Y1 (his teacher was deputy head and seemingly more out of the classroom than she was in). The trouble with raising it, is that you will likely get a message along the lines of the teacher still being fully aware of what is going on and that she liaises well with the teachers that cover. However, if it is genuinely a different teacher every time this does seem very disruptive and I think you could ask about it (At DS's school there was one teacher that mostly covered and then 2 others that sometimes covered, and then sometimes another class teacher or a TA randomnly covered - it felt like a lot of people but actually it wasn't as bad as all that).

do you think the teacher is missing stuff? I have to say that DS didn't get on too well with his teacher and it was slightly a blessing that she taught him less smile

The other thing to consider is how your Reception is structured. Are activities done solely with his classroom (so each class has discrete staff) or are the Reception classes mostly mixed up (so he's working with a variety of staff members anyway).

sheeplikessleep Thu 25-Oct-12 09:47:04

They're not TAs, as there is a TA there already (who is always there, the one consistency!).
Good question about lessons - I will ask that, as I agree on that too.
There are two reception classes. They do mix a lot, but equally, there are parts of the day when they operate as two classes.
I am guessing I will get a standard response to it. But I think the main thing I find out is how often, and for what lessons and how it is managed in terms of continuity.
It's difficult to know if she is missing stuff, as this is the first parents evening.
I'm concerned that she will just 'talk the talk' about how it's managed, but actually not say anything that will reassure me that much.
DS1 has settled in very quickly and in some ways it's good, as he is on the quieter side and he does seem to be growing in confidence. His writing and letter recognition and phonics are all developing well (or to me anyway) and he is starting to blend (although struggles a bit more with that).
Thanks for posting.

admission Thu 25-Oct-12 10:09:08

If the school have thought this through then the teacher should have a dedicated level of management time for her deputy head role. For a two form entry primary school, a 50% teaching commitment would not be unreasonable. So the question then becomes how are the school handling this. If it is 50% then the sensible thing to do (from both a financial and educational level) is to team teach and have one other teacher doing the other 50%.
It does not sound like this is happening, it sounds rather more haphazard, which is worrying. I would raise the issue because some times schools are too caught up in other issues to realise how something is looking from a parental point of view and they can sort it with relative ease if they have the willingness to do so.

sheeplikessleep Thu 25-Oct-12 10:16:19

Admission - I would be perfectly content with that. I'd love there to be one other permanent teacher, like a job share.

I also am realistic than sometimes supply teachers are needed ad hoc. That's what they're there for. But this is a permanent factor than needs a permanent 'solution'. I.e. it can be planned in.

I'm guessing there will be cost and time factors why it can't be a job share.

I hope they do look at something like this, rather than just try to talk me out of my concerns.

DS1 has told me that Mrs X isn't there because "she's got to do her work".

I guess my main questions tonight is genuinely:

1) What proportion of the time is she not teaching?
2) How is that being handled (i.e. who is then teaching? Is there any permanency / continuity of teaching? For what classes?)
3) How is she managing this process (although tbh, I'm less interested in this, because this is the bit where she can 'talk the talk').

I need to know what is really happening and how it is being managed. And if it is as much as 50% as it appears, is there any likelihood of a more permanent job share set-up being put in place.

Thanks for posting, it's useful to hear others views.

midseasonsale Thu 25-Oct-12 11:08:06

I would raise it as an issue and say you are very concerned. It's really not acceptable. Children need consistantcy when they are trying to get to grips with a new school. Can you suggest that they get a permanent part time teacher to job share the class.

midseasonsale Thu 25-Oct-12 11:09:39

An NQT two days would be cheap and could be led by the deputy head, Could be a good balance.

sheeplikessleep Thu 25-Oct-12 11:28:06

Yes, I agree, I'm going to ask about it tonight. DH is with me and much more 'level headed' and to the point in the way he asks questions (whereas I skirt around the issue trying not to offend!).

I'll feed back tomorrow!

Thing is if she just palms me off and nothing actually changes, what more can I do?

Manictigger Thu 25-Oct-12 11:52:55

We had this last year when dd was in reception. Her teacher was EY co-ordinator and had various other roles and I would say she was away probably 2 or 3 days a week either at meetings or on courses etc. I think the children were still taught ok by the supply teachers but when it came to listening to them read, quite often it was done by a parent volunteer who had no power to change their reading band. I got fed up of writing 'dd said she found this really easy' in her reading book because both teacher and TA seemed to ignore it. I honestly think the teacher had no idea of each child's reading ability. Consequently dd was put up 3 reading bands within 2 weeks of starting Y1 and we were told what a great reader she was at parents' evening. So I don't want to worry you OP but... I think that the less time a teacher spends with the children, the less aware of their abilities she becomes UNLESS she has a fantastic TA who keeps her up to speed.

I think it's a bit unfair of schools to give reception teachers so many extra duties because they stress the fact that reception is about children learning to settle into a school routine etc., and then they make the day incredibly unsettling by chopping and changing the teachers.

sheeplikessleep Thu 25-Oct-12 12:15:47

Thanks all for posting, you've helped me articulate my concerns and fears and reassured me I am not being PFB.

I just hope that I come away tonight feeling like they're going to change the situation.

Thank you

mummytime Thu 25-Oct-12 12:33:00

Manictigger - I think the issue of reading books has nothing to do with whether the teacher was there or not. I have seen this happen and heard others complain even when the class teacher had no extra responsibilities. Teachers seem to hear children read far less frequently than before.

YokoOhNo Thu 25-Oct-12 12:39:23

If you can, try to remember the specific dates when it was a supply teacher who was there and how many different supply teachers you saw on these occasions, even if you don't remember their names. When you discuss your concerns at the parents night you will be armed with specific examples and numbers when discussing these matters, not impressions. Makes your points much stronger.

My mum is a deputy head - teaching Year 4 - and it does sound like your child's teacher is out of the classroom too much without a proper continuity of learning care.

Manictigger Thu 25-Oct-12 12:46:46

mummytime, I think you're right, it can happen whether a teacher is there or not but I think that when time is short, listening to children read is one of the first things to be sacrificed (by some teachers). I know the parent volunteer very well in our reception class and she has told me numerous times that she has been greeted with 'thank goodness you're here today Mrs X because I've had no time to listen to any of the children this week' which is not surprising since the teacher has not been in the classroom for 2 or 3 days that week.

Boggler Thu 25-Oct-12 12:47:39

I think you'll find that all reception teachers are out of the class a lot during the first term as they have to complete a base line assessment of each child. This takes a lot of time, but you'll see yourself tonight at parents night what she's been doing as it will form the basis of your discussion on where your child is what's needed etc.

sheeplikessleep Thu 25-Oct-12 12:53:06

TBH, I only pick him up 3 days as I am working the other two days.

I am going to ask what the set up is first - how much time she is out of the classroom across the five days. I've seen about 3 or 4 different teachers myself. Some I've seen more than once, but there isn't any consistency. I get the impression that it's at least half when I pick him up, that it is a different teacher (she always for most of the time seems to be there in the morning at drop off).

But I think I'll say that I've seen a few different supply teachers, and ask what the set up is - how much time will my son be being taught by someone else out of the week and how they manage that continuity and then ask why it isn't a more permanent job share set up and if that's going to be considered moving forward.

I will make a note now though going forward. I'm going to go in with the curious stance of 'I've noticed quite a few times the class is being taught by someone else, how often does this happen and how is this being managed etc' route.

sheeplikessleep Thu 25-Oct-12 12:58:56

I hope so Boggler. I really want to see what grasp she has on where my son is at - that will be the deciding factor as to whether this is even a problem or not.

She does seem very astute and very experienced. Maybe I'll go in there tonight and she'll explain where he's at, his next terms plans etc and her knowledge of DSs strengths and areas to focus on will reassure me. I really hope so. TBH if DS is happy and learning at the right pace (he has already come on loads in the last 6 weeks or so), then that is what matters.

I guess it's the worrier in me as to whether if he is being taught by a consistent teacher half the time and the other half the time, he is being taught by teachers who don't know about where's he's at, how can that put my DS in the best environment to learn and progress?

I haven't got a clue what to expect from parents evening tonight, I'm a parents evening virgin grin

sheeplikessleep Thu 25-Oct-12 22:22:05

So, I spoke with the teacher tonight. She said this half term has been exceptionally busy and unusual and out of the ordinary. Her deputy work is allocated for one day a week. They use a bank of supply teachers, so they can rely on the same ones and this enables them to get to know the children. She recognised its not been ideal, but that it will be 1 day a week going forward. All I can do now is keep track of that wink

She does seem to have quite a grip on Ds character, so that is reassuring.

Time will tell, but I will keep an eye on how often in the next half term and raise it again if it continues to be as frequent.

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