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Can a teacher tell me why there is often little notice given for the 'come into school and do X with your DC' please?

(44 Posts)
SirChenjin Wed 26-Nov-14 18:46:57

Working f/t in the NHS, and we usually have to give at least a months notice for A/L - we can sometimes get away with less notice if no-one else has asked for the day off and if the service allows, but normally a month. DH has client meetings from now until about 2067, and again has to give a lot of notice for A/L.

Over the years, I've had invitations home from school with around a weeks notice to come in and view the DCs artwork/attend a charity coffee morning/go and see the class show etc etc. I've just had another one in on a beautiful handmade invitation from DC3 with a weeks notice - he was desperate for me to attend, and very fortunately I've been able to reschedule something and have put in for A/L.

Why do schools often give such little notice, esp. when they've been working on the arr/show/etc for weeks? Not trying to start a fight, just trying to get my head around this.

TheAlias Wed 26-Nov-14 19:01:05

I'm not a teacher but I do work in school. It's just plain simple lack of organisation I'm afraid.

Lots of the events really are planned at the last minute, so by the time the letter goes out you don't get much notice. Sometimes people just forget that they were supposed to invite the parents.

Some people will argue that if you tell people too early, the parents forget though.

I regularly advocate for parents who need a bit more notice. When I worked elsewhere I could pretty much manage my own diary so if I knew I could be at the school anytime but once I'd committed to a meeting it was very hard to change it. Falls on deaf ears though, teachers can't believe anyone has a harder work life than they do grin and they can't go to things at their DC schools, so I think there's a little bit of I can't go so why should anyone else.

TenMinutesEarly Wed 26-Nov-14 19:08:10

Once a year we get a feedback form to fill in from school. I believe it is linked to ofsted. Last year I put feedback that we needed a calendar of events at the beginning of the year with nativity dates etc. We got one in September! No idea if it had anything to do with the feedback but worth a try.

BrieAndChilli Wed 26-Nov-14 19:13:54

We hae a weekly newsletter and at the bottom it always has the years 'dates' for events that are scheduled. Any new one are highlighted in red as well as being mentioned in the newsletter. There is also a calendar on he website. School is also signed up to schoop which send a message to your phone.

SirChenjin Wed 26-Nov-14 19:19:07

We have a monthly newsletter which gives advance notice of various things - but these are often additional events, such as the show DC3's class is putting on.

I think I will need to raise this with the school - it's a nightmare trying to get last minute days off and we don't have a relatives locally who can attend in our place.

funnyface31 Wed 26-Nov-14 19:28:43

Same at my DS school, yesterday we had a letter for a trip next Thursday £11 cost. They only just went on one the week after half term.
Crap communication and every year it's on the feedback forms.

noramum Wed 26-Nov-14 20:00:09

We get a newsletter each 1/2 term and main dates like Inset days are published a year in advance.

Infant had more "come and watch" days but we got a term or at least a 1/2 term notice.

Lobby for more notice periods again and again. Maybe speak to the class reps and ask them to lobby with the other reps to get all parents involved.

chickenfish Wed 26-Nov-14 20:41:52

Because school dates revolve around children's lives and needs, which means an ever-changing timetable of sudden training opportunities, help from outside agencies, meetings with specialist teams, assemblies, interventions etc.

We set all our dates in September and every week they all need to be moved around again to accommodate all the other things that have come up in the meantime.

It's certainly NOT due to a lack of organisation in our school. It's because we are looking after hundreds of little lives and their needs come before the convenience of calendars, I'm afraid.

Teachers get JUST as frustrated by all the last minute events and changes because we have to suddenly rehearse an assembly or make 60 Christmas cards with a couple of day's notice!

TenMinutesEarly Wed 26-Nov-14 20:55:08

Last I noticed Christmas came round every December. It really is due to lack of forward planning as it isn't the same in all schools.

Hulababy Wed 26-Nov-14 21:00:06

We put things like the christmas concert, parents evening, sports day and the end of year show on the school calendar, these dates are sent out at the start of each term to parents.

We didn't send a second reminder for the first event this year - cue lots of people not knowing til day before when we put a reminder sign on the board.

However I do know we have a short notice of an event next week - but actually we can only have 4 parents anyway so this is less of an issue. The short notice wasn't intentional.

RhinestoneCowgirl Wed 26-Nov-14 21:02:32

I only work pt, but 9-3 so usually at work when DC are at school.

I just assume that teachers don't expect parents to go to every event? I do try and go when I can, particularly things like assembly which tend to be right at start of school day and I'm lucky to be able to flex my hours a bit. But I don't go to every thing, and my DC know that most parents work these days.

Our school is pretty good at giving advance notice of the big stuff like INSET days and Christmas shows. We usually know about these in September.

Muchtoomuchtodo Wed 26-Nov-14 21:02:36

Some schools do this better than others.

Ours is half way there. We get a planner at the start of each term. That means that anything in the first half term can be tricky to arrange time off for. They also will have something along the lines of '4th December - Junior Chrostmas Assembly. Am and pm performances. More details to follow'. Then the week before we get told whether we're invited to am or pm. It's too late I'm afraid, I've either booked the morning or afternoon off by then so that's the one I'll be going to!

Tigercake Wed 26-Nov-14 21:13:16

I wonder if it could be to do with the fact that unless they have worked in a career other than teaching this sort of requirement is just not part of their personal experience so it doesn't enter some of their heads. They see parents as the people who show up and drop off and pick up, not busy professionals with a hugely complicated diary trying to juggle everything. They perhaps also forget that whereas they get to spend at least a significant proportion of the school hols with their kids, lots of us only get statutory minimum annual leave a year and have to decide how best to deploy it, in negotiation with our employer. Some teachers don't have kids, and often they are just naive I think.

Our school does manage to give sufficient notice for parents evenings, open afternoons, sports days, concerts, major productions and nativities. School trips are a dead loss. I'd love to go on one, but without fail they always come out with stupidly short notice.

This term we've had an art exhibition, curriculum afternoon, and a couple of other things at v short notice. My reception age child will soon be offered stay and play once a week and family reading once a week. Completely uncontainable for working parents, and will split the class into those whose parents come weekly because they are available, and those who never come. Makes me sad my child will be in the latter group, and will make them sad too.

TessDurbeyfield Wed 26-Nov-14 21:18:52

Yes, our old school used to do things like this. They would suddenly send home a note saying 'Class 1P will be giving a presentation to parents about what we have learned so far this term, so please come along at 2pm on Thursday. Please dress your child as a woodland animal and provide them with a plate of forest themed snacks (no nuts) to share'. Of course you don't have to go but when your 5 year old comes out on Tuesday evening with this note on their book bag incredibly excited then it is very difficult if you have to say no. In the meantime you have to spend the evening trawling the internet for a badger costume that can be delivered in 24 hours whilst desperately trying to make a set of tree shaped biscuits that look vaguely presentable rather than having the shame of party rings from co-op and being on the phone to your boss trying to persuade them that Thursday's meeting would be better postponed to the following week.

I did raise this with the teacher who looked genuinely surprised and said 'oh I always ask X who says it is fine'. X was the parent who always went in to school to help with things. As she was also the only parent who neither worked nor had pre-school children AND she also had two sets of healthy and involved grandparents in the village she never had to worry about scheduling, or toddler naps. I think it might have been deliberate as she also liked to make faux sympathetic comments about working mothers...

We have now moved (not for that reason!) and everything is extremely well organised and set out eons in advance.

EndoplasmicReticulum Wed 26-Nov-14 21:20:04

Tiger I don't know that teachers don't have this as part of their personal experience - I'm in the "never come" camp as I can't ever get out of my own school to go to these events for my children either. This Friday I'll be watching the children I teach in a concert rather than watching my own playing in their assembly.

I used to send Granny instead when they were small, she's moved away now though so they don't have anyone to go and watch.

RustyBear Wed 26-Nov-14 21:22:55

Well, the shortest notice we've ever given was one day for a non-uniform day in return for a donation for the Christmas fair - that was because the PTA Fair committee decided on it, put it in their newsletter and then forgot to tell the school. So that one was down to the parents, I'm afraid...

skyeskyeskye Wed 26-Nov-14 21:29:04

our school does this and it is annoying. I am self employed and try and juggle everything around so that I can go, but it means either letting a client down or letting DD down, which I won't do.

They never ask for help on school trips, it is always the same parents who go on those, maybe they ask if help is required and I don't grin.

Last week's class letter said that parts for the Christmas play will be announced on 29 Nov and costumes must be in school on 5 Dec, so just one week to make buy a costume. It is things like that that really annoy the parents round here, not enough notice to do anything.

NK5BM3 Wed 26-Nov-14 21:31:05

Interesting. I work ft, in academia but also have a very big admin role which requires me to have evening meetings and lots of other meetings booked in ahead of time. I currently have meetings and things happening till June 2015.

My second child is going to reception next year and yes although I don't have to check out the school again, I felt she should be given the opportunity to 'look around' just like her older sibling did. She obviously knows the school a lot better since the sibling is there. The school had 4 open mornings/afternoons to visit it, and I couldn't make any of them. Thankfully dh could as he works from home but he then has to make up that time for work, and frankly he can ill afford it (irate clients emailing him). 2 of the days I wasn't at home (travelling), other 2 days I was in meetings.

I don't do stay and play, I don't do 'accompany children to x' and a whole load of other things.

I'm thankful too that dh is v creative, so the last minute book day costume.... He comes up with it. All I do is sacrifice some old tights, and bake cookies on the weekend (for the cake sales)...

Tigercake Wed 26-Nov-14 21:34:39

Non, you misread my post. Complicated annual leave arrangements to attend short notice events was what I was talking about. When you take up teaching you know you are never going to any term time events your kids have if you work full time. It's v clear! That's exactly my point, completely different 'rules' than most other professions.

SirChenjin Wed 26-Nov-14 22:05:35

Thanks everyone - it seems like I'm not alone!

I do understand that things crop up at the last minute, but surely (or maybe not..) that lesson plan for the coming term will include 'the show for the parents to demonstrate what we've learned this term' and a date put in the diary asap so that parents can be informed at the start of each term (mid Aug in our case) as opposed to the end of November for something in 7 days time that's the culmination of weeks of work? confused

I can't go in and help on a regular basis, nor can I be there to pick him up from school at the end of the day - so these events are really, really important to the wee chap and we try very hard to attend. I haven't been able to go to them all (again, very little notice meant that neither DH nor I could get time off) and he a Primary 7 child 'buddied' him. He was quite upset as 'everyone' (I took that to mean 'most') had a parent or grandparent there.

Bonkerz Wed 26-Nov-14 22:17:19

Our school is a nightmare for this. We get texts with 24 hours notice to send in cakes for charity sale or donation for raffle/tom bola and more recently we had 16 hours notice for a craft sale which apparently one of the PTa members advertised on her FB but I'm not friends with them.
Obviously with such short notice and working full time I can't support and then the school have the audacity to moan they don't have support from parents! Wrote a letter to head last week saying I'd love to support the school more but as a working parent I would need more notice of events etc have had no feedback!

toomuchicecream Wed 26-Nov-14 22:28:49

Lesson plan for the coming term?? We have a new curriculum this year so a huge number of lessons and plans have had to be dumped and started from scratch. I started the term with an A3 page with all the objectives to be covered this term, which in August I turned into a 1 A4 page, week by week plan with key bullet points for each week. So for next week it says wooden spoon puppets - link to retelling the Nativity story and writing instructions. That's it. From that I've been planning in more detail on a week by week basis. As a working parent I try very hard to give as much notice as possible because I know how important it is for both the children and parents, but Monday-Friday is so full on, I only get the chance to think clearly and plan in detail at the weekends.

chickenfish Wed 26-Nov-14 22:48:26

Glad to see this has evolved into another teacher bashing thread.

What toomuchicecream said. We have a new curriculum to deal with this year on top of all the usual things that shunt things around the calendar at the last minute. School life is not simple because we are juggling the needs of hundreds of children and families at the same time.

Most of us try to give as much notice as possible but I'm afraid things always change, due to the complexity of school life.

Of course we know how annoying it is. It's just as frustrating for us. Teachers are not able to attend the meetings, plays and assemblies of our own children either because we are not allowed time off for these things.

TessDurbeyfield Wed 26-Nov-14 22:58:04

Glad to see this has evolved into another teacher bashing thread.

No I bashed another parent! I am sure there is a huge amount of planning etc involved for teachers, it's just that often the things that were required or invited in just seemed a bit unnecessary given that there were already class assemblies, plays etc that were more predictable. So if it was something that came up at the last minute, I often wondered why they didn't just not do the 'invite the parents in' event. There just seemed to be a bit of an assumption that parents were at a bit of a loose end and thrilled to have the challenge of producing complex costumes etc at short notice and a lovely afternoon at school to pass the time.

Current school is much more on the ball and I have never had something unpredictable sprung on me. It is such a relief.

Lookslikeimstuckhere Wed 26-Nov-14 23:33:27

Most schools I have worked in do send out as many dates as we know, to parents in advance. I can appreciate how frustrating it must be when little notice is given, particularly if you work in an industry where it is hard to get leave at short notice. I agree that for a show off all our work type assembly, a date should be given at the start of the term. When in schools giving class assemblies such as this, we would each pick a date towards the end of that term and it went out in the newsletter, a few weeks into the term.

However, I do think most schools do their best to inform parents, most of the time

At my school we give notice of a week for a sharing assembly because we pick children who have produced a great piece of work that week. If a parent can't make it then we delay until they can.

TheAlias I'm sorry, but what a horrid attitude. Teachers can't believe anyone has a harder working life than they do? I find that extremely patronising and insulting.

I don't know any teachers that don't appreciate that most parents are busy. Nor do I know any who think that because they cannot attend their children's events, that no-one else should either!

We do try our best, although OP it does sound as if your school could have done a bit more to include you for that special assembly.

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