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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?

insanityscratching Thu 25-Jul-13 17:56:34

I chose dd's school because of there being more than one class a year for that reason after removing dd from a small school. Dd's school works on getting a good mix of children with the right teacher rather than an age split and it seems to work there. Dd next year will be in a pure y6 class (because the school has been extended by two more classrooms) but with the same teacher so that will be new to her but don't anticipate any problems. Streaming and specialist teachers for other lessons means that the class is rarely taught as a whole class anyway tbh.

NewNameForNewTerm Thu 25-Jul-13 15:46:08

ShoeWhore Thu 25-Jul-13 15:39:02

I understand your dd has specific needs insanity but most children don't. And in a single form entry school you are stuck with whatever kids are in your intake and are taught by every teacher.

Our school rarely has to split years but when it does it is done by age - very hard to argue about. And very easy for the children to understand.

Agree with reallytired about the likely spread of abilities across a mixed v single year class.

yummumto3girls Thu 25-Jul-13 13:43:48

Hi guys. Really interesting to see how other schools work and their criteria. I do think that if the criteria are clear, largely objective and transparent and clearly communicated to parents well in advance then chances of disgruntlement are reduced. If children who should be doing well are then not doing well that should be communicated so there are no end of term surprises in class decisions. Totally agree about friendships, some are unhealthy and need splitting up but surely in order to learn a child must be happy, and to most friendship is a huge part of that. There are 5 parents in this class that have complained so something has clearly gone wrong. Yes as much as I like the teacher as a person I don't like her as a teacher for reasons already stated. The decision is made now, school has finished, one tearful daughter and one equally tearful mum! Still we must look forward and be positive.

soapboxqueen Thu 25-Jul-13 07:47:23

I was going to say similar midnite. This sounds more like an issue with the teacher rather than the set up.

MidniteScribbler Thu 25-Jul-13 03:13:54

OP, is that you're daughter is actually with the teacher that she hasn't clicked with, rather than the grouping she has been assigned to? In which case, that is a completely separate issue.

ReallyTired Wed 24-Jul-13 23:28:22

It is hard for a parent to be realistic about their child's academic ablities. Some children will never be grammar school material and coaching them for the grammar or putting them in a private school does them a diservice in the long term. Most grammar schools take the top 20% of children at the very most. (In some cases its the top 3%) A child needs the natural intelligence to keep up with the fierce pace of learning.

My son's year 6 class had a HUGE range of ablitites. Thankfully his school has no mixed age classes. The bottom table count on their fingers and the top table are doing level 6 work. I suspect that a mixed year 5/6 class would not have that much bigger spread in ablities.

I think it would be horrible to make a split puerly on ablitiy. Year 6 girls children can be really immature and catty. Can you imagine the potential bullying in the playground of child A making fun of the fact that child B has been kept down a year for being thick.

clam Wed 24-Jul-13 23:05:44

Sometimes there is a close friendship that has become unhealthy in some way - maybe one child is too dominant, or a parent has requested the children be split but prefers that request to be kept private to avoid awkwardness amongst the families. But other than that, if there's no problem in the pairing/grouping, why split it? Although once you've put all the names into the melting pot, it's a bloody nightmare to balance the classes. There are so many considerations (gender, ability, age, social needs, friendship groups, teacher expertise etc..) and sometimes you do have to split an otherwise nice group to make it all work.

NumptyNu Wed 24-Jul-13 22:45:01

Clam - our school deliberately split close friendship groups to encourage socialization. I still can't get my head around it, but am an amateur to this school lark (DD end reception). Isn't it natural to have a best buddy? Perhaps one of the pros can shed some light?

GreenShadow Wed 24-Jul-13 21:49:23

It seems to work pretty well clam and insanity. I wasn't aware of any disagreement in my time there.

I think if everyone knows how the split will be implemented well in advance and it is not subjective, you don't tend to get complaints. Maybe they would make allowances for cases like your DD insanity, but I was never aware of any such requests while we were there.

insanityscratching Wed 24-Jul-13 18:33:07

Plus isn't it better to take the children's personalities and needs into account? There are three y5/6 teachers in dd's school, the one whose class she has been in this year and will be next year has suited dd down to the ground. The other two whilst I'm sure are equally good teachers dd would have struggled with because one is very spontaneous and dd needs routines and calm and the other is very loud purely because he's a large man with a big voice. Dd's autism and sensory issues means that loud is painful to her. So splitting by age would have been disastrous for her if she had been allocated the "wrong" teacher.

clam Wed 24-Jul-13 17:37:44

I think splitting according to age alone is unnecessarily divisive. Why would you want to deliberately split good friendship groups if there's no real reason to? I mean, in any jumble-up there's going to be some collateral damage, but at least try to keep some groups/pairings together.

GreenShadow Wed 24-Jul-13 16:59:50

This is why our primary school splits mixed age group classes purely on age, with no exceptions, however gifted the DC is.

There were some objections when they changed from an ability-based split, but it does stop the kind of issues above.

What they do do with very gifted children is sometimes move them up to the next class just for literacy or numeracy depending on their talents which seems to work.

yummumto3girls Wed 24-Jul-13 14:43:28

Zipzap - yes I don't think the teacher really liked my DD, she was always getting told off for things that she hadn't done (and for things she had done!). Other children would be messing around and because they would make my DD laugh she would be told off. She had excelled throughout school and always been above average, but certainly not top of the class, yet in this class it has ground to a halt and she has barely made one sub level progress in numeracy, despite me asking from September for her to be in maths booster groups but was told she didnt need it, surprise end of year very little progress. That's how all this started, I had a meeting to discuss her optional Sats results and why little progress so we could work together. Was told about a month before rest of class what class she was to be in, which obviously I kept confidential. I don't think this teacher works in the best interests of my child, or indeed gets the best out of my child. As next year is an important year for her I want her to have the best opportunity of succeeding, and that's not going to happen If she stays in this class.

Mrsz - the school told me she was 9th in Sats, so they can't have a criteria and then choose to ignore it, or at least explain to me why.

Just to be clear ALL classes are composite classes, so for her it's the difference from being in a mixed yr 5/6 class or a 4/5 class. I know they say it's not moving up or down but at our school there are some very clear differences between how a year 5 would be treated in one class to the other, which should not be the case. A year 5 should be treated the same wherever they are.

Anyway trust and confidence in the school has broken down and it's best we move on, that's until DD3 is due to start next year!

Kilmer - I know they can't teach to 11+, that's my job, but I can make sure that she is getting the best education to underpin this.

Thanks for all your comments everyone. We break up today, this situation has haunted me for 6 weeks now, on top of many other stressful issues. I'm glad we have made a decision and we have to stick to it, who knows whether it's the right one but that applies to us all. DD excited about new school and is spending the day saying goodbye, autograph book and camera. Off to collect her now, going to be very difficult and sad as have spent 8 years at the school since DD1 started.

insanityscratching Wed 24-Jul-13 12:59:31

Yummo you say the teachers have said her results were not a true reflection of her abilities Do you think that maybe her test put her ninth but on a day to day basis she doesn't perform as well and so isn't meeting the literacy criteria anyway?
Why do you say kept down? At dd's school they move classes there is no up or down mentioned.

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

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

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!

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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

Your daughter, of course. I am not dadto3girls!

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