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School refuses to give levels at consultation

(142 Posts)
Millie13 Fri 28-Mar-14 09:52:09

Hi I am a parent of a local school and we have just had a parent consultation . For each child I asked what level including sublevels the children were on ( for English and maths) and what their targets were for the end of the year . I was informed that the school will not give this information out to parents. They will only receive an end of year report with levels . However I would like to see how much progress has been made since the beginning of the academic year and I don't understand why this information is top secret and being kept from me .

I have asked before and had a meeting with the head which proved fruitless as she refused to give me the levels and it turned into an interrogation about why I had an interest in levels . I had to justify my reasons for asking and never received them! .
Could anyone please elaborate on this and how I can obtain them? Are they within their rights to withhold this information ?

EdwiniasRevenge Fri 28-Mar-14 10:04:45

Officially levels no longer exist since we have no national curriculum this year. So they would probably argue that they don't have them.

There will be no levels in next years curriculum either...but i suspect most schools will hang onto them as a means of monitoring progress. Not sure what else we can do...

PastSellByDate Fri 28-Mar-14 11:02:04

As a parent you are entitled to see any data they are holding on your child at a state maintained school. The situation is slightly different for independent schools.

Information here: ico.org.uk/for_the_public/topic_specific_guides/schools/pupils_info

My advice would be to e-mail the HT and reiterate what you understand her position is in relation to your requesting this information.

Copy that e-mail to the Head of Governors, with a complaint stating that neither the teacher nor the HT are willing to allow a parent to understand how their child is doing since the start of the school year. Most governors will now allow individual complaints - so it is important that you are complaining on behalf of all parents right to access this information the school holds should they wish to - so basically asking for a better system of communication of pupils' progress with parents.

It is important not to insist that progress data is recorded in any particular system (NC LEVELS/ APP SCORES/ ETC...)- that is their choice - but that whatever system they are using that data on your child is subject to the Freedom of Information Act and you do have a legal right to access it.

You do have to give the HT and the Governors adequate time to deal with the complaint (your school should have a complaints procedure system which will explain the time frames in such instances).

You must allow the HT/ Governors the adequate time to respond but in the meantime find out who to contact in the LEA regarding a school denying you access to your child's progress records.

It is never pleasant getting into this situation with the school but my advice is

1) you are correct to feel you have to right to see this data
2) remain calm at all times (no matter how difficult that might be)
3) from this point do not attend meetings on your own and my advice is that you record them.
4) with any conversations on this - prepare a summary and e-mail it to the school requesting them to alter your minutes if they have any objections to specific points.
5) make it clear that any legal expenses you incur in fighting for this would be reclaimed from the school should you win
6) make it clear that taking this to court, which you are entirely prepared to do, would result in very negative publicity for the school and the HT.

I find this attitude schools have in relation to informing parents of slow/ good/ speedy progress of their children incredibly unhelpful - in the worst cases, as in the case of my DD1, you find out so late in the day your child is seriously struggling that as a parent you're left with a huge uphill battle to turn things around. Tracking pupil progress should be central to what schools do, should be computerised (frankly there are tons of packages out there and councils provide training for them) and should be a doddle to print off for a parent.

I think when schools fight this (as ours did) it's because they really are concerned about letting parents truly understand how slowly (maybe even poorly) their children are progressing.

PastSellByDate Fri 28-Mar-14 11:03:03

Sorry Most governors will now allow individual complaints

should have read

Most governors will NOT allow individual complaints

newbieman1978 Fri 28-Mar-14 11:51:27

Ok just to make it clear, you are asking for information about "your" children?

Could I ask why it is so important you know mid year? Are you worried your child/children are not doing well?

Obviously I can understand that you may feel as a parent you have a right to know, which of course you do, but why press the issue?

This is not a situation which is likely to end in your parent school relationship being enhanced.

herdream1 Fri 28-Mar-14 12:08:14

How about doing assessment/tests at home? You can find free SAT papers and level information from web.

poopsydaisy Fri 28-Mar-14 12:18:17

OUr school gave levels last year (yr1) but not this year. I assumed it was because the levels have now gone (or are going) and didnt think to ask.

I do think, as a parent, levels are helpful to really understand where your child is and therefore which areas they need to improve in. We all like a number / ranking etc!

PastSellByDate Fri 28-Mar-14 12:33:47

Hi newbieman1978

You raise a good point - and I've no idea where on this divide you stand (as a parent/ teacher - maybe both?)

but....

Can I just flip this on its head.

THIS IS NOT A SITUATION WHICH IS LIKELY TO END WITH your parents THINKING WELL OF A SCHOOL WHO REFUSES TO DISCLOSE THIS INFORMATION.

juniper44 Fri 28-Mar-14 12:53:10

There may not be any official written evidence of your child's levels. Lots of schools level an entire group, using one child as the benchmark. If that child isn't your child then they can't share the data with you.

My school also doesn't share levels, apart from years 2 and 6. If parents ask then I will generally tell anyway, but there have been occasions where the Head has told us directly to not disclose levels.

Are you concerned about progress? Do you feel your dc is behind, or is it just that you'd like the information? If the latter, going in heavy handed is not going to help your cause. They'll just close ranks.

herdream1 Fri 28-Mar-14 12:58:00

Hi juniper44: why did the head not want to disclose the levels?

newbieman1978 Fri 28-Mar-14 13:00:06

PastSellByDate

I'm both a parent and someone in the education industry though not a teacher (hence on here in the day!) My wife is also in eduction at the coal face.

You are right situations like this never end well from both the point of view of parent school relations and for how parents view the school.

I was simply trying to understand why the OP is so intent on knowing the information.

If the OP was to go in and see the teacher for instance and say she was concerned about her childs progress the teacher is likely to say either "you have nothing to worry about, child is doing well" or "you are right to be concerned and we are doing x to sort the situation"

Ok so if the stituation is that the teacher says the child is doing well, why the need to know specific levels?

If the child is not doing so well then surely during that conversation levels may well be discussed.

What we have to also be concerned about as parents is that teachers and schools are not being burdended with spurious requests from well meaning but overbearing parents.

PigletJohn Fri 28-Mar-14 13:03:40

Newbieman

If a school fobs off a parent with meaningless platitudes like those, unsupported by evidence, do you think they have any value?

EmmaGellerGreen Fri 28-Mar-14 13:06:52

You can just request the information formally under the data protection act / freedom of information act.

Millie13 Fri 28-Mar-14 13:07:57

Hi thanks for all the posts so far. In answer to some of the questions I would like to find my childrens levels because last year I asked at every consultation for their levels which each time were not provided . At the end of the year I found out one of my daughters had only moved one sublevel all year. Why did they wait till the end of the year to give me this information. If had known about it earlier I could have helped my child. I do not wish to be in the same situation again .

HorseyTwinkleToes Fri 28-Mar-14 13:41:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AmberTheCat Fri 28-Mar-14 14:04:22

I think there are two different issues at play here - whether you're given a level for your child, and whether you're kept adequately informed of their progress and how you can support them. There are plenty of schools that don't really use the levelling system except when they absolutely can't avoid it (and there'll be many more shortly when levels disappear!), but know exactly how each child is doing and how to help them improve. Is that the approach that your DC's school takes, OP? Even if it isn't, I'm sure a conversation framed along those lines would be more fruitful than storming in and threatening legal action hmm

herdream1 Fri 28-Mar-14 14:08:52

My DD, too, did not progress much in one academic year. When I went to talk to the head, she said that the previous year's assessments were wrong! I lost my trust for the school.

cingolimama Fri 28-Mar-14 14:12:06

OP, I find this a bit shocking. Of course you want to know specifically where your child is, and how they have progressed (or not). Stuff about "progressing well" or the dreaded phrase "DD is exactly where they should be" is far too vague and very subjective.

There are of course arguments against NC levels, but there will always have to be explicit criteria in which to judge a child's educational progress. Whatever a school may use, this information should absolutely be available to the parent.

Clearly, the school does use levels, as the Head has made clear.

redskyatnight Fri 28-Mar-14 14:23:11

I have to say that DC's school does provide levels but I find them meaningless. Once you get to KS2, one sublevel of progress over the year can be perfectly acceptable so on a termly basis your child may well not move at all.

DD has progressed a lot this year. At her parents' evening her teacher spent some time pointing out that her "level" was likely to now plateau but that didn't mean she wasn't making any further progress. I got the impression he was sick of parents wanting to know why a child's sublevel hadn't moved between October and February.

Also, if you want to support your child, knowing they are a level 3b help you not one iota. Knowing that they need to work on their use of adjectives and different sentence starters or solving complex mathematical word problems is much more useful!

FleurForesight Fri 28-Mar-14 14:27:19

Just by the way... my DC are all at independent schools, and there aren't any 'levels' for anything (they don't do this test). However, I'm not worried about what 'level' they might be at anything. If I were concerned that they seemed not to be learning anything, I'd go and speak to a teacher; I wouldn't wait until parents' meetings to ask about 'levels'.

In short: I wouldn't get too stressed about whatever level your child might be. I'd think more about whether they are happy, busy, and seem to be learning something.

newbieman1978 Fri 28-Mar-14 14:47:19

Interesting you mention independent schools FlerForsight.

I'm sure you'll agree that was a parent to start making demands even after being to told they would have the information at a specific time of year they'd be likely to get short shrift.

Something along the lines of "we have done it that way for 100 years"

Like I mentioned earlier and as others have suggested, there is a difference between the school not being open about childrens progress in parent teacher conversations than to being told you can only have levels at a certain time of year.

Heifer Fri 28-Mar-14 14:49:53

Must admit to being surprised you're not told of your childs levels.
DD (yr 5) is told what level she is working at and what she needs to do to get to the next level..

Clutterbugsmum Fri 28-Mar-14 14:57:57

Ours too, Heifer. We are given levels reach and what area's we need to work at to get to where child should be at the end of the school year. In fact the school has just put in some assessment in this week so we can have upto date levels when we get the school report at the end of term.

bequiasweet Fri 28-Mar-14 15:09:20

shock It's clear I'm totally naive about this, but I'm absolutely aghast that some schools would withhold data from a parent about their child's progress and levels. How is a parent supposed to support the learning at home (which they are very much encouraged to do by the school) if they don't know where the problems are? It's a pretty paranoid (and possibly arrogant) school, that thinks sharing the data will undermine their work. If a doctor didn't share the child's medical issues with the parent, that would be unacceptable. Why should it be any different for the teaching profession?

goonIcantakeit Fri 28-Mar-14 15:48:33

Focus on the quality, not the type, of information.

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