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How do I complain and what do I say?

(17 Posts)
KwikQ Sat 17-Oct-15 10:46:15

I'm after a bit of advice about how I should handle some issues I am having with my DD's school.

DD is in Year 2. Her class has two teachers, who take the class for 2 days per week each, and a HLTA, who has the class for the whole day once a week. The HLTA also marks all the class's homework (although in fairness, only about half of it ever seems to be marked).

My husband raised the issue of a HLTA having the class regularly and marking work with the Headteacher, this week., who defended it completely - said it is 'common practice' and that the governors and local authority had agreed to it.

We are still not happy. On the day that the class has the HLTA, they seem to be on a total 'wind down' - lots of colouring in and 'golden time', and no real learning. Her marking of the homework is pretty pointless, too. My DD has had three our of six pieces of work 'marked' and the marking is effective a smiley face and 'Well done'.

I have nothing against the HLTA personally. I just wonder if this really is acceptable on the part of the school - to be using a TA (albeit a HLTA) to teach a class and mark work on a regular basis?

I have looked at the DfE website and some other educational websites, and it seems to be poor practice to have this happening Am I right? Should we go back to the Head and/or governors and push for this to be addressed? I have spoken to some other parents about it, and several others are unhappy and are going to bring it up at a forthcoming parents evening.

DD has been generally happy and achieving well at school, and I dont want to be that pushy mum who complains about every small thing, but I am concerned about this.

Any advice?

ScentedJasmine Sat 17-Oct-15 12:26:47

TAs marking homework seems to be common at our primary school and yes, involves smiley faces and well dones.
In maths occasional different working at side if ds got wrong end of stick.
Also comments if his work scruffy or careless!
As for teaching, HLTAs do take classes but I don't think usually for a whole day. Usually a morning or afternoon.

reni2 Sat 17-Oct-15 16:40:40

HT is right, HLTA teaching a class for a whole day is common practice. Ours do it routinely every week in all years, whilst the class teacher prepares lessons (school is Ofsted "outstanding" and this practice was known).

Marking all homework is part of many TA's job, too and smileys, thumbs ups and well done are part of marking and really normal, too. You would be complaining about quite common and acceptable practices.

mrz Sat 17-Oct-15 17:30:44

Teachers only have half a day per week out of the class for planning, preparation and assessment time and many schools employ teachers to cover this rather than use HLTAs. A full day out if the class every week is unusual. It seems in this case that the head is only employing the class teachers for two days each per week (which would entitle each to roughly one hour each PPA time) and using the HLTA as cheap cover for the fifth day

KwikQ Sat 17-Oct-15 19:18:01

reni2 , you said 'Marking all homework is part of many TA's job, too and smileys, thumbs ups and well done are part of marking and really normal, too. You would be complaining about quite common and acceptable practices.'

Really? I dont understand how saying 'well done' is marking. What has my DD learned from it? I find this really hard to understand.

I used to be a HLTA in a secondary school and we were never timetabled in to regularly have classes (we were only used as occasional cover) and certainly never marked work. Is it really so different in primary schools?

I am struggling to understand, really.

Thanks for all replies.

WombatStewForTea Sat 17-Oct-15 21:00:47

Employing a HLTA for a day is cheaper than a teacher. Presumably the HT can't get a qualified teacher to do a day a week unless it's supple cover which is expensive and one of the existing teachers won't/can't pick up the extra day.

Our PPA is covered by a TA and I hate it. We plan it and we've now been told it's our job to redo the marking if it isn't good enough. I just wish our head would put her hands in her pocket and employ a qualified teacher!

mrz Sun 18-Oct-15 07:08:31

Many larger schools employ a full time teacher who covers all PPA in school. We employ a specialist science teacher (4afternoons) who teaches an afternoon of science in each of the KS2 class and I know schools that have sports coaches, music or MFL teachers to cover PPA.

(You shouldn't be planning for your PPA time ??)

SouthAmericanCuisine Sun 18-Oct-15 07:18:34

I dont understand how saying 'well done' is marking. What has my DD learned from it? I find this really hard to understand.

The school should have a marking policy that explains the principles behind the system used - you could start by asking for a copy.

As for the HLTA cover - it may be just a question of budgets. not ideal, but a sad reality that Schools are making compromises in order to balance the books.
For instance, two p/t teachers are more expensive than one f/t, but if the two p/t teachers were better candidates than the f/t teachers who applied, covering a day with an HTLA may not be as detrimental to the DCs as having an inadequate f/t teacher.

HumphreyCobblers Sun 18-Oct-15 07:21:50

I used to write formative comments on every bit of work I marked in my year two class, but unless I sat down with each child and went through it with them I don't think they paid much attention to it. Maybe the HTLA is giving better verbal feedback?

BertNErnie Sun 18-Oct-15 07:44:29

We employ HLTAs and put them in year 2 and 6 where they regularly cover for class teachers and sometimes this can be for a whole day depending on what is happening.

We are an outstanding school and Ofsted were aware of this at the time. They are very experienced and the learning that takes place when they cover is very similar if not identical to if a teacher was teaching the class.

Our TAs also mark homework and regularly have dialogue with the class teacher about the content. If there is an issue, the teacher is shown the book but the TA generally marks it and it is to a high standard.

Maybe it's the HLTA and not the system so to speak?

We also have to plan for our PPA.

mrz Sun 18-Oct-15 07:45:14

Not every piece of work will be "quality marked" sometimes it will a matter of a tick and in others detailed feedback will be given.

Teachers will have 4/5 pieces of work to mark for each child in the class each day so possibly 750 books to mark each week ...

mrz Sun 18-Oct-15 07:48:56 point 14

SouthAmericanCuisine Sun 18-Oct-15 07:50:38

mrz the school is providing PPA time - just not covering the class with a qualified teacher at the time.

mrz Sun 18-Oct-15 07:54:47

Two teachers have said they are being asked to plan for their PPA cover that's against the Workforce Reform Agreement

mrz Sun 18-Oct-15 08:07:19

Axekick Sun 18-Oct-15 08:14:01

Tbh it all sounds like common practice in a lot of schools.

The homework marking is pretty standard at this age. If there is a problem I would expect them to raise it with you, the parents. I didn't see home work being graded or full feedback til later in school.

The class being run by someone else also seem fairly standard. It happened all through my dd in primary and they did generally do the more relaxed day. Our school had an entire morning where kids could bake, go to art, music, dance, football etc. Both the kids and parents loved it. Teh kids got to interact with other kids of all ages (dd loved helping out the younger kids especially when she was with out ds) and they got to have some relaxed Funtime at school. It's also the top performing primary in our area.

In the afternoon it was golden time or whatever they call it now and a structured lesson.

Tbh if the LEA and the governors have approved it, you would need to prove its not working to be able to change it.

EeyoresTail Sun 18-Oct-15 08:35:29

My DD is in year 2 also. At her school we have found so far that after her homework is handed in we won't see it again until the end of the school year! So she has no idea when she gets stuff wrong etc

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