Am I overreacting?!(30 Posts)
Firstly I'm on my iPhone so sorry for typos!
My DD and DS both go to a reasonably small primary school. We are just a normal, average family. No SN no social services involvement.
Last year I received a phone call from the head very concerned that DD had gone to school without any breakfast. I lay the table in the morning, they get breakfast themselves (cereal, fruit or yogurt). DD hadmt got herself any that day. I don't particularly monitor them as I'm usually getting myself and toddler ready (DD is 7). She didn't tell me she hadn't had any breakfast and went to school fine. Then I get a call at 10am from the school to inform me that DD had mentioned to a friend she was hungry the teacher overheard and she was questioned as to what she had eaten that day and then they fed her and phoned me to see why I hadn't fed her?! I kind of brushed it off and pretty much stand over DD and DS to make sure they eat every morning now!
Today I get pulled aside by the head as she wants to talk to me in private. In her words 'a number of staff have approached me today because they are concerned that DD looks quite grubby and disheveled, she also has dried food down her shirt, I wanted to make you aware and see if there is anything going on at home'
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? DD has lost 3 jumpers this term and didn't wear one today but had a vest on under her shirt. I came home from school and checked her shirt and other than some grub around the sleeves it is fine. It does have some old faded paint/ink stains but was fresh out of the machine! Clean trousers, clean socks, clean fitting shoes. Hair still tied back.
I'm starting to think this head has some kind of problem with me, I feel judged and like she is insinuating I am not looking after my children properly. I should also mention here that I am a school governor and she chose to grab me after a 3 hr full governors meeting.
Does this kind of thing sound normal to anyone else? I have seen numerous children with shoes falling off their feet, trainers as no shoes, track suit trousers instead of school trousers and I'm being hassled because DD has some faded stains on a slightly greeting school shirt?!
I think that you are overreacting.
The staff at your DC's schools are clearly very observant and concerned for child welfare. They cannot know for a fact that all is well at home. Being the one who notes a lack of breakfast and clothes not as neat as normal might mean the difference between help being called in early and help being too late.
Imagine of there WAS a problem at home for a child. An observant teacher could make all the difference.
The other children you have seen may well have support already in place. You can't know their situations, just as the staff can't know all of yours.
Be happy that your child is very much cared for: both at home and at school.
I echo eco lady.
They may be over reacting, but just be glad that they do take this stuff seriously. Surely you must feel safe that your daughter is being looked after?
Really? On ONE occasion she went to school not in tip top condition and it warrants pulling me aside and mentioning it? Surely common sense would say that if a child has been at a school for 4 years with no signs of neglect and get younger brother is dressed fine that maybe you don't call the parent in for one day of a not perfect shirt?
Well it sounds as tho there were 2 occasions and in fact it is the very people whose chidlren suddenly seem to be less well cared-for that the school should be alert to tbh.
I know that you know that all is OK, but imagine if it wasn't? You would surely be glad that staff were alert? Issues like no breakfast and messy clothes are exactly the kind of thing staff need to be aware of - and of course there are perfectly reasonable explanations (like yours) but not always, sadly.
I have been in the situation of being the one who raised the concern in school. Can't go into details of course, but on that day I was right to be concerned.
It happens. Nice families develop problems. Previously well cared for children do start being unfed or unwashed. There are many causes, but the teachers are often the first to say "Is everything alright at home?" and that can be the start of a family getting much needed help.
'I kind of brushed it off and pretty much stand over DD and DS to make sure they eat every morning now!'
So the school bringing a concern to your attention has solved that problem then, you now make sure that your children eat breakfast.
I have children coming to school wearing elderly uniform, well-worn and occasionally stained. That's very normal.
Dried food isn't a stain, it's dirty clothing. Odd that it wasn't there when you looked, had someone sponged it off?
Yes, perhaps the head is concerned that all children in her care are not being neglected and keeps a careful eye on things. Hopefully she won't have any other cause for concern and will have nothing to remark.
It is often the 'nice, middle-class and respectable' families who allow their children too much independence and responsibility very early on, getting themselves breakfast, putting themselves to bed. I had one boy who slept in his clothes for several days because it saved him time. Mum hadn't noticed.
Look it's annoying but it is actually good that the school so immediately take note of this kind of thing - it means they're actively looking out for the children in their care.
Slightly surprised that a child hungry at 10 a.m. would raise notice - mine have at least 1 bowl of cereal, sometimes DD2 has 2 bowls + banana before school, but both are starving by KS1 fruit break or KS2 tuck.
If it's any concellation teachers are always judging parents - they never feel we appreciate how hard they work, they don't feel we're supportive enough, they're sniffy if you can't make an awards ceremony or assembly and don't seem to accept that it would cause problems for you at work, etc.., etc...
My advice is 'to roll with it'. They're human. Their heart is in the right place and in your heart of hearts you'd want them to be that concerned when there really is a child not receiving the care he/ she should have at home. Have they over-reacted yes - but that's a sign of the times rather than anything you've done in particular. I know it's hard but it will seem funny in a few weeks and you'll eventually laugh about this, annoying as it was at the time.
The school sounds officious and annoying. There are plenty of grubby kids in my children's school, and no one seems to judge. In my opinion, there are several worlds of difference between an occasionally unkempt child, and one who is neglected.
Too difficult to tell, tbh.
My own kids are dishevelled pretty much all the time, and wear second hand uniform (I object on principle to paying £50 a pop for dresses). They spend their lives playing outside and many times I've had to 'baby wipe' their knees in the mornings because we've run out of time to get them showered. The teachers have never ever questioned me.
That said, if my kids had previously been very tidy kids with hair cuts every 5 weeks and sparkly clothes (maybe even with proper name labels rather than biro scrawls), and had then turned into how they look normally, I can very easily imagine being pulled aside by the staff and asked if everything was alright at home. Which I think would be a very good thing for them to do.
My friend has a DS who is undergoing ASD diagnosis at the moment.
One of his things was avoiding eating breakfast. The school know this but are known for not being supportive. She has been called into 'well being' meetings about this child, being accused of neglect and not coping.
He is 1 of 4 none of the others are 'neglected'. Several times they have been in the playground and he has complained of being hungry, so she has told the school he is unwell and taken him home to feed him, even though he is supposed to be learning the consequences of his actions.
The school just seem to see what they expect to see now. They are set on this one path with him and she is unable to do anything differently
I would just like to add that the state of your ds's uniform would have had no bearing at all on their (clearly unfounded) concerns about your dd. At my school there have been a few cases over the years where siblings have not been treated equally - horribly sad, but true. I am not for a moment suggesting that is happening here, btw.
As for other, even grubbier, children in the school - how would you possibly know that interventions weren't taking place in those families?
I would be annoyed by that. For the breakfast thing I would say 'thanks for telling me', but messy uniform?! I sent DD in with paint stains on her cardigan the other day- she only has 2 and the other one was still in the wash.
Grubby children = normal
No breakfast and the child complaining about it means the school had to act rather than ignore them, surely that makes sense?
Plus they had no idea if that was the first time it had happened, or merely the first time the child had complained of being hungry as a consequence.
You lot do understand that even children from nice, that-not-us-at-all, don't-class us-with-the-Oiks families can be neglectful and indifferent to their children?
It isn't restricted to one social set.
OP, look at the situation disapassionately rather than harrumphing about school knowing nothing. They do know very little about you as a parent, they are going on what they observe.
I have actually been in a situation where a school used CP concerns to stop me from raising concerns about discrimination (every time I complained about their lack of provision, CP concerns were raised). But this is very, very rare and doesn't seem to be what is happening here.
Chances are the head meant it kindly: she noticed a departure from the normal and wanted to know if she could help. If something had happened- say a bereavement or other family crisis- you might have been glad of her support. 'Are you ok?' doesn't have to imply criticism.
I would take it with a large pinch of salt. Mine is always offered breakfast but sometimes doesn't eat much. A few of her friends are the same. She generally looks a bit dishevelled. I wash and iron clean uniform. She puts it on - so collar tucked under, vest hanging out. I straighten her up a bit, she comes home dishevelled. I brush her hair, she puts her hood up and it all goes messy. Often spills her lunch down her front or has whiteboard marker all down her back. Sometimes someone gets a bee in their bonnet I think. We had a supply teacher accuse us of some ridiculous things once. I was open mouthed. It was so bizarre. I see her in the shopping centre sometimes and she looks quite embarrassed.
My friend's hv was convinced she had PND. But my friend didn't. The HV kept contacting her for ages saying things like "are you sure you're alright" when she was fine. She found it very irritating and quite bizarre.
But I guess you just have to put them straight and carry on.
White board pens is all I have to say. Oh and primary school kids and scissors = holes. DS can't keep a polo shirt looking decent for a day and I'm not buying new on a weekly basis.
She obviously means well but I would go in and have a word and put her straight-in a polite way.
Have you challenged her wishes in any way in your role as a governor? Personally I would be very careful as I know of cases of retaliation for being difficult or complaining about professionals.
I think the people saying the school were doing their job are sanctimonious and lack any empathy. You REALLY think you'd be cool about the school twice pulling you aside to question the quality of your care? I don't think so. The school are ridiculous - maybe the breakfast comment is forgivable - but sounds like the implication was to question your ability to parent rather than point out a possible oversight in that morning's routine. I think possibly the best action is to complain about their approach in a letter to the school, as over zealous and mishandled. Sod being reasonable - this looks like a perfect time to overreact! I couldn't let the implications of those criticisms rest unchallenged. Sometimes attack is the best form of defence.
Lord, DS gets bloody marker pen ink on his school clothes so often, the only time he looks neat is the morning after I've bought yet another school jumper. And if he gives his breakfast to the dog while I am running around sorting his lunch and putting on washing, I am none the wiser. His hair is beautifully shiny, I will say that, but refuses to sit in any style that couldn't be classed as 'unkempt'. As for the shoes, well, the only time they'd be irreproachable would be if there was indeed a family crisis and he was staying with his grandparents. I'd be mortified if the school made a point of questioning me about the care DS gets at home. He's in Y5, and nobody's collared me yet about him being scruffy or underfed.
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