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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!

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

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

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.

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?

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

I knew you had to be in Scotland!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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)

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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!

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?

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

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

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.

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.

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