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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?

ShoeWhore Tue 23-Jul-13 22:45:10

Like other posters I am really not sure how you know that wrong decisions have been made OP.

Our school had a composite class this year (this is unusual for us) and one mother was very vocal about bad decision making on the part of the school - what she meant was the decision making resulted in her dc being in the composite class. Actually the school had given the matter a lot of thought and it has all worked out very well - overall results for both year groups affected are excellent.

yummumto3girls Tue 23-Jul-13 23:46:58

Thanks for all of your comments. I disagree with what some of you have said in that I don't think any school have a right to make decisions about my childs education without it being a clear and transparent process and them being able to justify it. I was also a governor at this school, and technically still am until Sept, but after 6 years have recently resigned for other reasons, so I do have a good knowledge of how all this works. Their criteria are based on the child's "emotional well being", "literacy ability" and "motivation to learn". They have told me my child is 9th in the class for literacy but still isn't one of the 13 going up. A child in a lower literacy group is going up. So they can't have a criteria and then ignore it, and not justify it. The approach from the school has been defensive and aggressive from the outset and despite my best efforts to resolve this, including accepting she won't change class, they won't explain the reasons behind their decision to me.

My child has been on a taster day at another school so I can understand why they have asked me to confirm my place, but as I am in the middle of a complaints process it is inappropriate until this is exhausted. Other parents, who tell me they have not threatened removing their child have had the same request which is inappropriate.

I'd be interested to hear what the criteria are in your schools.

Anyway, I have written to the school and Chair and told them that I will be removing my child from their school. Sounds extreme I know but we all have to do what is best for our children. DD is totally chilled about it all and will fit in anywhere, she is the one who has decided tonight that she would like to leave as she has been separated from all her friends and feels that she will get a better education elsewhere. I am very proud of her because she has made a very mature and considered decision.

TheFallenMadonna Tue 23-Jul-13 23:51:02

If it's not literacy, then it is emotional well being and motivation to learn. And that is difficult to hear about your own child.

BackforGood Tue 23-Jul-13 23:55:32

Have you not read any of the posts from people answering your original post ?
People have already explained how these decisions are made.

Also , you say they have given you the 3 criteria which they combine to make the decision. You seem intent on ignoring that, and trying to make it all about literacy.

lljkk Tue 23-Jul-13 23:57:15

Don't you think it's possible your child is being mixed with younger pupils for emotional well-being or motivation to learn levels, or do you dispute those assessments too?

Criteria in our school: Intake usually around 45 so lots of mixed yr classes. Stated as a whole mix of factors but ability is not part of it (doesn't seem like it in my observation, either). Our school does not term it as "going up" if they are in a class with all same age, or term it as "staying down" if they are mixed with younger year group. So I humbly submit that your school has a faulty way of dealing with mixed yr classes.

yummumto3girls Wed 24-Jul-13 00:02:52

Just to clarify, she stayed in the same class for yr 2 & 3, so would normally then have spent two years in the same class for year 5 & 6, instead they are keeping her in a mixed yr4/5 class as opposed to a mixed yr 5/6 class! She will be a year 5. It is is difficult to see how they will teach to year groups, it must be a nightmare for teachers, however she will be taught differently in this class to the yr5/6 class. They stream children for literacy and numeracy in top class but not the mixed yr4/5 class, she went to the top class for literacy last year, got a high grade in optional Sats, but is now being told she will not be streamed in yr4/5 class which I believe lowers the level to accommodate yr 4's (it will be based on topic work). Hope that makes sense. I just would prefer her to be challenged more in a mixed yr 5/6 class as opposed to a mixed yr 4/5 class as she has a tendency for distraction when not pushed, hope that makes sense!?

Jinsei Wed 24-Jul-13 00:02:58

Well done OP, you have probably made the right decision. Once the relationship has broken down between a parent and a school, I think it can be hard to get things back on the right track.

FWIW, I think you were being completely unreasonable about the school's decision, and so the school may well be glad to see the back of you! Anyway, I hope that your dd settles quickly in her new school and makes lots of new friends.

yummumto3girls Wed 24-Jul-13 00:07:33

Backfirgood - yes I have fully read the posts! The criteria, sorry but emotional well being, what does that mean and how do they justify that. My child is probably the most grounded and emotionally mature child in the class, However her emotional well being has been impeded by being separated from her friends without a good reason!

NewNameForNewTerm Wed 24-Jul-13 00:13:32

I'm amazed at the school for ranking children in literacy (i.e. telling you your child was 9th in the class). Literacy is a wide subject and your child might have the 9th highest reading age according to a certain test, but are they 9th for speaking and listening, reading comprehension, handwriting, spelling, writing stories, poems, non-fiction, etc. ?
I think if the school have told you the criteria - "emotional well being", "literacy ability" and "motivation to learn" - they have been as transparent as they need to be. Further information does overstep what you can know about other children.
I can also see why the school want you to confirm your place - you have voiced that you are not happy with them, you have had a taster session elsewhere - maybe they have someone waiting eagerly on their waiting list and want to help that child should you be deciding to move on.
I know I've not been there, but rather than it being the school being defensive and aggressive it seems to me, from your tone of posts here, it is you who are getting cross that you can't get your own way.
I'm sure the school will be sad to see your daughter leave, this is nothing about them not liking her or bullying you. It is about schools making the decisions based on their professional decisions for the whole school. Parents can comment and ask, but if they expect to be able to make the criteria about who goes into which class it just becomes a farce! Maybe you'd like to write the curriculum and plan the lessons for them too?

yummumto3girls Wed 24-Jul-13 00:14:06

Jinsel - yes I am sure they may well be glad to see the back of me despite my 6 years worth of unending work for them that has got them out of the shit many times.

I don't want to be part of any organisation that thinks it can make decisions without being transparent and objective. I am sure 99% of decisions in schools are made with the right reasons, but I don't see why anyone should not have the right to seek clarification on decisions without being met with "how dare you question me" attitudes.

yummumto3girls Wed 24-Jul-13 00:17:43

New name - I take it you are a teacher! She was 9th according to optional Sats.

NewNameForNewTerm Wed 24-Jul-13 00:18:18


NewNameForNewTerm Wed 24-Jul-13 00:19:29

And we never rank children on test results at primary school. It is a single snapshot on just one day; rarely a true reflection of what a child's level is day-in-day-out.

yummumto3girls Wed 24-Jul-13 00:24:54

I totally agree its a snapshot, the teachers have said her results were not a true reflection of her abilities. Just to be clear, this is not about me getting my own way. I have told the school that I accept classes can't change,I just want them to clearly justify their decisions. I think teachers underestimate parents knowledge of other children. We all talk to each other and know a lot about each others children. Teachers are professionals, as am I, I have to justify my decisions when questioned, teachers should be no different.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 24-Jul-13 00:33:31

Why do you think they don't like our daughter?

TheFallenMadonna Wed 24-Jul-13 00:34:28

Your daughter, of course. I am not dadto3girls!

NewNameForNewTerm Wed 24-Jul-13 00:34:35

But justifying their decision will mean discussing other children with you as they are part of the equation. I don't know what profession you work in, but the levels of confidentiality required means we can't even make unnamed comments about it that may let you know information about other children.
I'm not saying parents are not professionals or know their children, but how can a school function if they let the parents make decisions about classes. How would it be if all the parents were asked "do you want your child to move up or stay down?" Even if it was worded more positively. Judging from your reaction, how many would want to stay down? Then what does the school do? Surely as an ex-governor you understand that for the smooth and effective running of the school it just needs to get on with many decisions like this.
Reading between the lines you are generally unhappy about the school, so maybe it is best to move on. Good luck to your daughter at her new school, from your description of her I'm sure she will settle and make friends quickly (but wouldn't she have done that in a new class at the old school?). If you have bad feelings towards school she is bound to pick up on it and it will unsettle her even more, so you've probably made a good choice for her.

soapboxqueen Wed 24-Jul-13 00:48:01

Problem is though that it is difficult to justify decisions in this situation without alluding to the abilities of the other children. The school have given you their criteria and their answer but you are not happy as you believe the teachers will get all confused about how to teach children in mixed age/ability classes without being reminded by you that some children are older and/or more able than others. As a profession that had never occurred to us before so thank you.

I'm afraid the only person/people who know the strengths/weaknesses of the cohort as well as the social dynamics of the children are the staff. Basing your objections on optional SATs which most schools don't do anymore because they are crap, seems like you are clutching at straws. You know your child, the other parents know theirs, you all think you have an idea about the others but you don't really know. Your only concern should be; where is my child now? what is their target? how are the staff going to get them there? Not, how can I reorder the classes to suit me.

I appreciate your said to the school that you knew they would not change the classes now but if that is the case, what is the whole point of this? Surely it would be better, if you were truly concerned, to ask to speak to the class teacher to learn how she will provide for your child so as to put your mind at ease.

As other ppl have said, it is best to move on if your relationship with the school has broken down to such a degree.

Bumply Wed 24-Jul-13 00:54:18

It's really weird seeing you refer to it as being 'kept in the same class'. Ds2 was in composite classes almost every year at primary. They did it on age basis as far as I know so he'd be in say the P3 bit of a P2/P3 composite (being the youngest) and then the following year be in a P4 or a P3/P4 purely based on which classes they had to merge that year. The teachers were well used to running composite classes so there was no question of him getting a lesser education because he was in a mixed group. As the youngest (especially on Scotland where a lot of his age peers had been deferred a year and were therefore in the year below) it gave him a chance to to mix with his own age more for things like sport. In Scotland the size of a composite class can't be larger than 25 so that benefited him over the occasional years he was in a Px on its own.

zipzap Wed 24-Jul-13 01:13:30

I've come a bit late to this - but just out of interest, how well did your dd get on with her class teacher last year? And how many of her group of friends have stayed in the same class as her, how many have changed to the different class? Is that the same for everybody - at both my dc school they have to name 2-4 children they like and they try to put them with at least 1 or 2 friends in their new class (3 classes to a year in infant school, 5 classes per year in junior school).

Just before they announced the new classes for next year for ds2, we discovered that a reception teacher who had been ds1's Y1 teacher was moving back to y1. DS1 had had a rotten time with her, just never gelled and moved backwards more than forwards in his time with her. I also found her very unapproachable and difficult to deal with. (in all his other years, ds1 has been in g&t style stretch groups for all sorts of different things, has always got good reports from his teachers, she is the only one that everything went wrong. And by the end of the year I discovered that at least half the class if not more had had similar problems, people still talk about how she ruined their dc's infant school time etc so it's more than just me being pfb!). Anyhow, I was able to approach one of ds2's current teacher's to see if there was any way that I could request that ds2 didn't end up in this teacher's class as I could see the problems being even bigger than ds1 had. Luckily she agreed with me - and managed to steer him away from that class [big sigh of relief smiley] but there are some poor kids who will have had to have had her for 2 years on the trot which, if you are having a bad time with a teacher, is horrifying at this age when it means the basics aren't being taught properly, let alone reinforced.

Which is a very long winded way of saying - do you have issues with the teacher - is there anything to suggest that you don't want her to stay with her (I know that your dd has decided to move on and away from the school - was knowing that she had to have this teacher again part of it or was it just the friends thing or something else?)

I can see why you are upset though - does sound like she is not being treated in the way you would have expected her to be. Do you think they are over compensating because you were a govenor and therefore didn't want to seem to be favouring you by putting your dd into the single year class rather than the composite class?

MidniteScribbler Wed 24-Jul-13 01:45:31

Selecting classes is completely subjective. There is not one single criteria that can be used to determine which class a child ends up in. To give you an idea of what happens at our school - the current teachers and the next years teachers along with any other teachers that are involved with that year level (music, PE, aides, etc) and the head meet to decide the classes. Generally students with special needs are placed first - often because one of the teachers has experience in dealing with that particular need. We then consider everything from parent requests, grades, motivation for learning, friendship groups, children who just seem to rub each other the wrong way, children who don't work as effectively when in a class with certain other students, access to particular skills a teacher may have, or on the odd occasion we've even looked at parents and teachers who may not click with each other, or even just where a particular teaching style may suit a student better than the other teacher. It usually takes at least four to eight hours. Not one student is placed in a class without a lot of consideration for so many factors. And generally we're not going to tell parents why their child is in a certain class, because it may disclose information about other students. When we say "it's the best fit" it's because it is. We've done our research, we know these students, we know ourselves as teachers and we know what the best learning environment for those students is going to be and we make decisions accordingly.

PatriciaHolm Wed 24-Jul-13 11:20:00

There isn't going to be some nice Excel spreadsheet they can give you that ranks all the children with scores for all the criteria, there just isn't. They have told you how they have done it, that is all they can do.

Unless you trust that the school knows what they are doing, it probably is best you take your DD elsewhere; if the trust has gone, then nothing they do will be right from now on, however hard they try.

titchy Wed 24-Jul-13 11:33:36

If each child has to spend two years in a mixed year class, I'd be quite happy that my dc's year 5 was spent in a mixed class, as presumably that would mean their year 6 would be spent in a purely year 6 class, not a mixed year 5/6 class. Ho hum too late now!

mrz Wed 24-Jul-13 12:41:45

How on earth do you know she was 9th from optional SATs? Has the school told you other children's results ... I hope not as it would be a huge breach of confidentiality

kilmuir Wed 24-Jul-13 12:52:36

Madness. Teachers know ALL the children better than you.
She will be taught year 5 curriculum.
We are in a 11+ area and schools not supposed to teach for the exam

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