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Totally child-led parent's evening at primary school - what do you think?

(61 Posts)
BirdyBedtime Fri 04-Apr-14 13:44:25

So, school got a new head at the start of the academic year and she has changed the format of 2nd parent's evening (first one in October still 'traditional').

It was earlier this week and took the format of the DC's having a little workbook of tasks grouped by curricular areas (literacy, health and wellbeing etc) and going round stations saying things like 'ask me to tell you 3 things about x topic' ' I can tell you about the proporties of these items' and ' I can write a sentence in cursive' - no s**t sherlock, I've seen you write before and I know that you know that a cup holds liquid.

We were explicitely told teacher wouldn't be able to answer child specific questions etc. It was just a glorified open evening.

The outcome was that I learned absolutely nothing about DD's progress, strengths, weaknesses, etc and have requested an appointment with the teacher to discuss this - as have all other parents I've spoken to and many more I expect judging by some of the looks I saw on parent's faces during the event!

The Head has introduced this in her 2 previous schools and seems genuinely shocked that parents at DDs school are not happy with the new format nor with the fact that it was introduced without consultation. Apparently only a handful of parents from those schools ever requested a one-to-one meeting after the child-led one - hmm.

So, what do you think? Are we all being precious expecting to actually have some time to speak to the teacher? Would you be happy if your school introduced something like this?

Let's not even talk about the fact that I also now have serious concerns about the level of what they are learning - that might be another thread!

TheGruffalo2 Sat 05-Apr-14 08:44:16

We do this for two of our parents evenings each term, after the parents receive the written report. Seeing the children's work puts my written comments into context and having their work and suggested questions really focusses the children on talking about their learning (great for the children who tell their parents "nothing" or "played" when they ask each day what they've done!). I am however available and wander around chatting informally. Later there is the option of a booked, private appointment on another night, but few of these are taken up after the informal, child-led one. Parents at my school say they love it as their child really talks about their learning and it means they have a context for future discussions at home.

SirChenjin Sat 05-Apr-14 08:46:26

How many parents evenings do you have each term Gruffalo?!

TheGruffalo2 Sat 05-Apr-14 08:48:26

The other bonus is there is no time limit. I'm not looking at my watch and ushering them out the door after ten minutes, suggesting they may like to look at their child's work in the waiting area, which it is then hard to put in context without someone to explain it. I often have parents in my room for an hour and I can dip in and out of the conversations they are having with their child. Parents can study my learning walls in depth, look at books on the shelf and IT programmes on the laptops that I leave running, children can share their saved.

TheGruffalo2 Sat 05-Apr-14 08:52:51

Two informal parents evenings as I've described, plus two part evenings for booked appointments. The part evenings are new and one starts and finishes later to provide late slots for working parents. As a teacher that is a pain as there is not enough time before the 5.30pm start time to go home, to Tescos, etc. so we are trapped in school. As the other day is 3.10 - 5.00pm I would find it easier to put it all on one day, but I suppose it helps if someone can't attend at any time on one of the days.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sat 05-Apr-14 08:59:04

4 parents evenings a term? Surely that's per year?

I used to teach secondary and as they got to exam years years the students came with parents. I told them I wouldn't say anything I hadn't already pretty much said to the child so there would be no shocks. We'd discuss predicted grades etc in advance.

However I taught 6 year groups. So every autumn and every summer that was 6 Thursdays in a row where I taught all day and did parents eve all evening!!

SirChenjin Sat 05-Apr-14 09:00:13

4 a term?

TheGruffalo2 Sat 05-Apr-14 09:03:06

No, that is per term! I am primary, if that makes a difference Goodness!

We do feel it is a lot but managed to persuade the HT not to put them all in one week! (Shows how out of touch HT is with the realities of classroom teaching!).

We also have two curriculum evenings a year! Plus a PTA to expect teachers to attend every event and get very vocal at our lack of commitment to the children if we don't!

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sat 05-Apr-14 09:17:36

Wow that is a lot. I'm a primary parent and we get one a term!

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sat 05-Apr-14 09:20:13


I'm not sure is manage childcare as a parent 4 evenings a term. That's every 2-3 weeks.... (I always thought as a secondary teacher doing 6 in a row that that was one thing primary teachers escaped, just having one class!)

our pta only has the head and sometimes one other teacher on it.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 05-Apr-14 09:24:43

Are you in England or Scotland TheGruffalo2. That does seem a lot. The legal requirement in England is 1 per year, I think + 1 written report.

4 a term would take up a lot of directed time.

Heathcliff27 Sat 05-Apr-14 09:27:04

Wow!! We get one "proper" teacher/parent appointment per year, yes year (in may) An informal open evening/ book fair once a year in october and family friday normally every 2 months where parents are invited into the classroom by the children and shown the latest work, teacher there to answer any general questions.

TheGruffalo2 Sat 05-Apr-14 09:29:18

No, LA primary school, not private. We are labelled "outstanding" in a MC area with parents who have dipped into private, but finances have prevented continued use. Our head feels it is important to live up to their "expectations".

We do spread those four parents evenings over two weeks, but yes I'm glad my children no longer need care after school and can go to a friends house for tea, etc. Not sure how I'd have coped if they were younger.

I am shattered after the end and do wonder about the quality of my teaching and limited planning and marking those weeks. I deliberately try to plan stand alone lessons well in advance as I can't plan or edit planning after a late evening with parents. I try to do lots of work that doesn't need the children's writing or maths books as they would get lost and be presented to parents as un-marked. Plus lots of drama, problem solving, mini-whiteboard work that doesn't need marking!

As far as PTA I've just learnt to ignore and not respond to the comments made in the playground if I haven't attended film night as it has clashed with my daughter's show, or Saturday fair that has clashed with my Dad's birthday. But it is hurtful.

MidniteScribbler Sat 05-Apr-14 10:10:49

We have two 'traditional' parent teacher interview opportunities during the year, and an open day/evening once per term. The open day is for parents to have the opportunity to come in and spend however long they want. We have various activities going on that showcase what the students are currently working on (we'll have an art corner, science corner, etc) and the parents can do the activities with their children. There are also displays, videos playing, etc. Sometimes the children will put on performances. It's quite a lot of fun, very informal, but it's good for parents to be able to get in the classroom and see what actually is happening, rather than the more official and technical parent-teacher interviews.

SirChenjin Sat 05-Apr-14 11:01:24

Wow - Gruffalo, that is a lot of parents evenings. Are they really all necessary? confused

Oblomov Sat 05-Apr-14 11:06:43

I wouldn't be impressed. I like a good open evening. But at parents evening I want to talk to teacher, about how my son is doing, and his levels.
Isn't that blatantly obvious?

TheGruffalo2 Sat 05-Apr-14 13:20:01

No, I don't think they are all necessary, SirChenjinery, especially as we have a very "open door" policy before and after school, plus open house every week after school on Fridays until 4.30pm. But the parents council and a couple of vocal parents insist they are. Apparently they think the school doesn't offer enough opportunities for parental consultation compared to previous schools their children have attended. So what the parents want, the parents get! They are actually actively seeking more!

proudmama72 Sat 05-Apr-14 13:27:09

I thinks its great, but does sound more like an open evening. As long as you can schedule a separate appt. with the teacher I wouldn't have a problem

NearTheWindymill Sat 05-Apr-14 13:46:51

Goodness Gruffalo. At primary, outstanding cofe and sounds a bit like yours, we had one formal parents evening per year from reception until Y6. There were lots of shows and choirs and church services but no opportunity to view work at any other time. The children did of course get a small amount of homework and you could see what they were producing and they brought lots of stuff home at the end of each term and everything they had done at the end of the summer term. One written report. Lots and lots of DC left with level 6's and I was never told anything about my DC that I didn't already know.

DS went to indy prep at 8 and it was one formal parents' evening a year and a written report each term. DD went indy after a disastrous Y7 and 8 at a top 100 comp and we get the same as for DS. Communication with and from the comp was shocking and that was a significant factor in moving her.

DC are 19 and 16 now. No teacher ever told me anything about the progress of my DC that I didn't know already. I knew DS was probably top 1-2% intellectually by the time he was about 3; I knew DD was probably top 5%-10% by the time she was 3. My job is to love, to facilitate and encourage my DC to do their best.

I think your head's milking it a bit Gruffalo.

pattykins Sat 05-Apr-14 13:51:57

Surely the point of parents evening is to have the opportunity to discuss your child's progress when your child isn't present - which isn't always possible otherwise .

And it's not just about academic progress is it? It's behaviour and any other problems too.

I've just found out the teachers think my DD has aspergers at parent's evening this week. This isn't something I would have wanted to discuss in front of DD or other parents at drop off or pick up time hmm

ggirl Sat 05-Apr-14 14:06:52

god OP's parent's evening sounds useless
I too think generally when they're very young taking your child along is not a good idea..much easier to talk to teacher alone.
Ds now in yr 6 and parents eve last week it was useful to take him along..english teacher had a good go at him , we were united in our kick up the arse that he needs.

DebbieOfMaddox Sat 05-Apr-14 14:23:00

I wouldn't mind doing that as an extra event, because I know the DCs would really appreciate it even though it wasn't telling me anything about their abilities that I didn't already know. But I wouldn't be happy about losing an actual parents' evening so that they could introduce it.

indyandlara Sat 05-Apr-14 18:34:27

Not only do I not like these, I'm pretty sure I know which school your DD attends! I'm a teacher and I would hate these. I like parents's nights where I can see and talk frankly to parents. Sometimes these are the only times I get! I've set short targets for a few children after our appointments in March and will see the parents again in May.

If you are where I think you are, I'm quite interested in why the reaction has been so different to other school where she has done this. Her last school have just done these type of PN again and they're okay about it.

I also like a written report. However, I've been t

indyandlara Sat 05-Apr-14 18:37:28

Sorry too soon

I've been told that Literacy, Numeracy and HWB are where personal comments are appropriate. The rest are going to be generic. I'm not happy but with 9 different sections to report on, I suppose in some ways I am relieved. A colleague has worked out that they will work about at 23000 words for a class set of reports which is quite an undertaking.

HobbetInTheHeadlights Sun 06-Apr-14 13:33:47

Surely the point of parents evening is to have the opportunity to discuss your child's progress when your child isn't present - which isn't always possible otherwise .

We always thought this but school has just changed format and insists the DC are present - even at the evening appointments won't talk to the parents without them.

It constrained what I felt I could ask about eldest yr4 issues with spelling - as I don't want to make her more self conscious but at least she could contribute. Younger DS KS1 and reception didn't say much and teacher spent most of time trying to get them to talk.

None of the parents are really happy - but the decisions been made and that seems to be that.

HobbetInTheHeadlights Sun 06-Apr-14 13:35:10

I really wouldn't be happy with that format OP. My DC school does have separate events for looking at their work though.

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