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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!

DalmationDots Tue 08-Apr-14 10:00:53

The main thing I used to get from parents evening was whether DD was happy socially, did she play with other children well or fall out regularly with friends, was her confidence improving in class, was she in line with/ahead/behind the class in any particular areas and was there anything in particular I could do to help her at home e.g. a certain maths topic she was struggling with.
I knew what DD could do/not do and that parents evening would not tell me anything about the non-academic aspects of school. So no I would not be happy if that replaced a parents evening.

DD did used to have exhibitions where the children were in groups and all designed an activity or something to show off on a stall. Parents could then (optionally) come in and visit the exhibition. There would be stalls with food and the children would dress up. It was a really great idea for the child to show off what they had been doing but it was not sufficient to replace a parent's evening.

juniper44 Tue 08-Apr-14 13:17:38

Gruffalo has your head given you a break down of your directed time? It sounds like these evenings could exceed the directed time quite easily on their own. I really hope you don't have staff meetings on those weeks too.

Do you have a union representative?

MiaowTheCat Tue 08-Apr-14 13:44:49

Bloody hell Gruffalo you've got my sympathies on all of that!

Best ones I've seen with the open-day type of parent event have been during the normal school day with a drop-in type system where parents can pop in and out of classrooms and join in activities with their children if they want to come in and do so, and if not - it's still the sort of fun break from the routine activity the kids enjoy anyway... optional extra of PTA selling cake and squash in the hall for parents to take their kids out for 10 mins or so to treat them to one (leftover cake distributed to the classes afterwards) and the like. Of course they got complained about as not fitting around working parents as well - can't win sometimes - but with a traditional parents evening alongside that as well. Was made clear that since it was a normal school day the class teacher might be available for quick queries or to make appointments to chase up issues - but their primary focus was teaching the class (although the activities going on were generally fairly informal "fun" but educational type ones... think I was doing something like tessellating shapes that session - that sort of thing)

TheGruffalo2 Tue 08-Apr-14 13:52:51

Yep, we do that type too Miaow! Last one was a DT day. Over two thirds my class had at least one family member in and most wanted to stay all day. It was crowded, to sat the least, and the arguments (and snatching ) of resources was a sight to behold ... and that was just the parents! Lots of parents took the day off work and if they couldn't attend sent an aunt, grandparent, etc.

TheGruffalo2 Tue 08-Apr-14 13:55:12

Yes, we've asked for a breakdown of directed hours. Sneakily the late sessions have been counted just as booked appointments, so it just about comes out correct. Yes, all other meetings are cancelled that week and we don't have to go into daily assemblies hmm.

Bunnyjo Tue 08-Apr-14 14:24:30

DD's school has an open evening in autumn term - very informal and a chance for new parents to meet everyone in the school from teaching staff to governors, pta and other parents. There are more traditional parents' evenings in spring and summer term and a full report is issued to parents a few days before the summer term parents' evening.

There is always the opportunity to speak with the teacher in the morning or evening, and appointments with the head an be accomodated at very short notice too. I think DD's school has got it just about right. However, it is a very small village school and I know that some schools couldn't accomodate those kind of arrangements.

BirdyBedtime Tue 08-Apr-14 22:02:42

Indyandlara - I think the difference can be explained (at least partly) by demographics. The previous school was a smallish one in a modern estate which is very different from ours (which although mixed does has a high number of higher socioeconomic status households - and I know I am generalizing here). I know someone whose DCs are at that school and she doesn't have a problem with it.

We've now been issued with a time for our individual appointment and asked to identify our concerns in advance -grr I don't have particular concerns, just want a chance to discuss DDs progress in private. Anyway I'm pleased that the majority of posters seem to agree that this is a bad idea.

I won't be happy if the reports are as you suggest although I won't be surprised. There is more to learning than numeracy, literacy and HWB - There can be real differences across the curriculum in terms of achievement/progress so I'm assuming these are just going to be tick boxes.

PM me if you want to check if you're right!

stargirl1701 Tue 08-Apr-14 22:07:49

I knew you had to be in Scotland!

morethanpotatoprints Tue 08-Apr-14 22:09:20

Wow, this is really good.
Schools round here do one parents evening, usually at the end of the year.
More than one sounds great, whatever it consists of.
Why do you need another progress report if you had a parents evening in November?

BirdyBedtime Wed 09-Apr-14 12:56:06

stargirl - don't you just love Curriculum for Excellence???

morethanpotatoprints (love the name BTW) - we had a PE in early October (so only about 6 weeks into the school year) . Much of the discusion was about how DD was settling into class, some about what they would be doing, not very much at all about her individual learning.

We'd usually use the second PE to discuss with the teacher how much progress DD has made since the first one, any areas of weakness that she needs support on and how we can support that as parents, also the social side things. We have not had that opportunity this year due to the change in format and I suspect the information in the end of year report won't give us the level of info we would like.

I would actually prefer what you have - one PE but later in the year when at least the teacher knows the children and can talk confidently about their progress etc.

I'm not saying it's not good to have the opportunity to see DD's work (although I did find the format unhelpful) but more the fact that we are being made to feel we are being difficult by requesting the opportunity to speak to the teacher as well.

stargirl1701 Wed 09-Apr-14 13:00:53

I'm afraid, as a Scottish primary teacher, I cannot possibly comment grin

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