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What can you do if you disagree with school?

(65 Posts)
yummumto3girls Mon 22-Jul-13 22:54:55

Long story, small school, 5 classes, 7 year groups so children stay in same class twice during their time at primary school. My DD is staying in same class this year when we were expecting her to go up. The criteria used to select children are vague and subjective rather than based in optional SAT's and grades and we are very unhappy that she is 1 of 9 staying in her class when we strongly believe that several of the children who have gone up have lower grades than ours. We are happy to be corrected but have written to Head and Governors and they are just not answering our questions to assure us that a decision has been made objectively. DD will be yr 5 so next year is a really important year for her as we want her to sit 11+. We accept she won't change class we just want the school to provide the facts and figures. Plus they have now asked us, and three other parents who have complained, that we must confirm we want her school place by 9am Wednesday, which feels like bullying for making a complaint. So where can I go with this now? Ofsted? Who is there to help us parents?

lborolass Mon 22-Jul-13 22:58:41

I don't know anything about that kind of system but why would they ask you if you want your school place? Surely a school can't just take your place away (is it a state school), could there be some kind of misunderstanding?

When did you write to the governors - it might take them a little time to reply as they won't be having regular meetings over the holidays and probably have governors on holiday themselves so I wouldn't necessarily assume they are ignoring you.

Patchouli Mon 22-Jul-13 23:04:34

DD's school has similar and all sorts of factors seem to be taken into account when deciding who moves/stays.

friendship groups
splitting children who distract each other
confidence - some children who perhaps lack confidence a little might have more confidence when they're one of the older ones in the class so may put their hand up more etc
balancing boys/girls
Just loads of different considerations.

So facts and figures would be impossible.

It would be a shame if your DD was made to feel some sort of failure

yummumto3girls Mon 22-Jul-13 23:26:38

I have had a response from governors who are too wet to challenge the Headteacher. I know wrong decisions have been made, I know it won't change things but just want the school to show that they are transparent and decisions not based on whether they like(or dislike which I suspect) a child. The letter from Chair of Governors asks me to confirm my place, they have no right to take my place away so I am fuming. It feels like a threat because I have complained.

BreconBeBuggered Mon 22-Jul-13 23:45:41

What facts and figures have you asked for? I doubt the school would be keen to supply you with the grades of other pupils. It''ll be hard for them to demonstrate transparency without compromising confidentiality. Have you been clear about what result you hope to achieve from your complaint?
I'm puzzled about the reference to 'confirming your place', if you have made no reference to withdrawing your child from school. The LEA might be able to help with that one.

clam Mon 22-Jul-13 23:47:56

But she will still be doing year 5 work, even if she's in a composite class, surely?

MaybeBentley Mon 22-Jul-13 23:48:47

But surely if the selection criteria is not grades there aren't figures to have? Plus the school can't discuss other children with you as that would break confidentiality. If the decision is not based on ability it is a combination of reasons, many of which would require knowledge of the other children and schools just can't do that. Schools have to look at what is best for all the children and that sometimes means not agreeing to what an individual parent wants. And without all the information how can you be sure "wrong decisions have been made", rather than "I haven't got what I want"?

TheSecondComing Mon 22-Jul-13 23:51:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MerylStrop Mon 22-Jul-13 23:56:53

IMO you are well within your rights to ask for confirmation of the selection criteria and well within your rights to ask to discuss their decision. Though I am unclear about whether it will actually affect your daughters educational opportunities.

Had I been in receipt of such a letter re your child's place, (provided that any papertrail would not find a stroppy email threatening to withdraw my child, that is) I would be copying it to the LEA and Ofsted in a flash.

Totally unacceptable.

BackforGood Mon 22-Jul-13 23:59:08

What Patchouli said - but you didn't acknowledge with your next post.
Also what Brecon said.
They can't tell you what other pupils are achieving. They can't tell you about personal circumstances of children which may well have been a big influence in the decisions.
They will have deliberated long and hard over it, and done the best they can for all the pupils.
I don't understand the bit about confirming your place though ? Unless you have said you are leaving ?

MerylStrop Tue 23-Jul-13 00:04:57

re-read your OP
how many times has your dd stayed in same class? is it not, quite simply, just her turn?
sounds like a nightmare system to organise and teach in
surely her work will be differentiated?
if you think that the school is actively making decisions that will be to the detriment of her educational progress (the comment you made about liking or not liking particular children) that is a pretty serious accusation. if you really think that is the case, would you not be looking at moving her?

YDdraigGoch Tue 23-Jul-13 00:06:21

Same as Patchouli. I doubt there's any sinister reason. Your DC will be doing the same work as other kids on same age group. I'm not sure what it is you're concerned about.

misterioso Tue 23-Jul-13 00:31:42

I also don't understand your angst, maybe they have asked you to accept your place because one of the other parents in the same position has threatened to leave and they think you might all go en masse.
I don't see how it will affect her chances of passing the 11+ either.
You also can't say you know wrong decisions have been made, wrong for whom?
As a side issue, what does your dd say about it all, she is old enough to understand? Is she upset and does she think it will affect her chances of 11+ success.
I would be concerning myself with your dds worries and happiness rather than your own tbh.
It seems like its just one of those things that goes with attending this school.

piprabbit Tue 23-Jul-13 00:42:24

Mixed classes at my DCs school are decided by a whole mixture of criteria including (but not exclusively): friendships; birthday; ability and gender. They are trying to create a class which is a well-mixed, cohesive group.

It isn't something the Governors are involved in at all as it isn't part of their remit (they don't do anything operational). It is down to the class teachers and dept. head plus the HT. I doubt the Governors have the information you require and it is likely to be September before they can speak to the HT about your letter.

Jinsei Tue 23-Jul-13 07:51:22

I'm guessing that you or one of the other parents has threatened to withdraw - can't see any other reason why they would ask you to confirm the place.

Your reaction does sound a bit OTT to be honest. You can't possibly say that "wrong decisions have been made" without knowing all of the facts/reasons for those decisions. And as others have pointed out, it may not be possible for the school to discuss all of these factors with you.

As you have acknowledged that the situation isn't going to change, your focus now needs to be on building bridges with the school again and asking for reassurance as to how your child's educational needs will be met in the class that she is in.

Why do you think they don't like her?

Caitycat Tue 23-Jul-13 07:59:39

As someone said above, if they all stay in the same class twice during their time in school is your concern that this is the third time (in which case you might have a valid complaint that this isn't how ir usually works) if not then it's surely just her turn to do this? Nine children must be about a third of the class so she will hardly be left alone.

Pozzled Tue 23-Jul-13 08:09:01

I agree with other posters. They're will be a wide mix of reasons for choosing the classes, which are not easy to quantify. Having the 'right mix' in a class is really important for all the children.

You seem to be assuming that your daughter is being 'kept down' and that she will not be working to her potential in the new class. This should not be the case at all- she should be given appropriate teaching and work no matter what class she is in. The school will have various ways of ensuring this, and I would focus on this aspect in any discussion with the school.

Some small village schools have three or four year groups in one classroom, and still manage to teach all the children effectively.

insanityscratching Tue 23-Jul-13 09:35:57

Dd's school have composite classes, the reasons why one child might stay with one teacher for two years are complex. For example dd is staying with her teacher because her SEN means that she needs a teacher with strong routines and the teacher we chose last year has worked well and so will continue. It also means that X won't be in her class because dd and X clash nor will Y because Y needs a teacher who is flexible and spontaneous but Z will be because Z is one of dd's best friends. In those instances it has nothing to do with academic achievement because dd is top group and X,Y and Z are all much lower groups.

NumptyNu Tue 23-Jul-13 10:25:20

I picked up on your comment about the criteria being vague. Is a lack of transparency regarding your child's progress the problem? We are also having a similar issue.

PatriciaHolm Tue 23-Jul-13 10:49:26

"The criteria used to select children are vague and subjective"

Yes, they always will be, combined with academic insight. It's not a decision based on grades alone; they have to figure out the dynamics of the class, friendships, personalities, etc. They absolutely won't be able to give you a list of concrete measures by which the placings have been done, and it's won't be the "cleverest" who have moved class and the intention will never have been to do that. They also won't be able to share with you any information that might tell you other pupils grades.

"Wrong decisions" haven't been made, just ones you don't like. The school are well aware of your child's abilities, let them teach to them as they intend to. If, next year, it transpires that differentiated teaching isn't happening, then you will have a valid complaint. Now you don't.

As others have said, I suspect the comment about places is because you or someone else has said something silly like "put my child up a class or I will pull them out!" and school needs to cover all its bases and make sure you're not going to do that.

PTA Tue 23-Jul-13 11:19:11

This is why out LA does it on language groups, no ambiguity, no room for appeal or protest. If your child is in the language group that is going into the composite class then that's it.

Of course, if you child is the only boy/girl or has no close friend in the language group then parents do get upset and annoyed but that's just how it is.

crunchbag Tue 23-Jul-13 11:34:54

PTA, do you mean age groups rather than language groups?

That's how our infant school did it, youngest 30 went to a Y1 class, oldest 15 went to Y1/Y2 class.

clam Tue 23-Jul-13 17:00:09

There is no method of selection that suits everyone - everyone will think that someone else's child should have been picked if it's an unpopular option, and that their own child should have been selected for the popular option.
Of course the criteria are vague; it's not up for debate, that's why. They're the professionals who know the kids academic strengths and weaknesses and social combinations, not you.
Sorry if this is not what you wanted to hear.

soapboxqueen Tue 23-Jul-13 18:42:22

The answer is not much. It is up to schools how they organize classes. I would suggest that your only real alternative would be to move your child if you are not happy.

Agree with pp in that you cannot know if an incorrect decision had been made.

BreconBeBuggered Tue 23-Jul-13 22:38:08

Have you responded to the Chair of Governors about your child's place, OP?

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