Not sure I've handled this very well, might have made it worse, advice needed(19 Posts)
Dd1 has had a few run-in's with one of her friends for years. Low level bullying, usual schoolgirl nastiness, dd being left out, etc. Lately it escalated to the girl hitting dd. It happened twice and the teacher told me it had been dealt with and the girl was on a 'three strikes and you're out' rule and would be excluded for a day if she did it again.
She duly hit another girl. I assumed this would be the third strike. Nothing happened however and the girl wasn't excluded. I believe she was spoken to though.
Dd is a bit concerned that it will happen again because the girl might think she can get away with it, because the school didn't follow through with what they said they'd do.
Anyway. We've had Ofsted in today. The inspector had an informal meeting with parents to canvass our opinions. Most of it was very positive feedback; on the whole it's a lovely school. I had to be honest though and say that we had had a negative experience that I didn't feel had been resolved. A couple more parents had a similar view.
The inspector asked to speak to us afterwards, to elaborate on our experiences. I explained what had happened. I'm sure she can't take personal anecdotes into account but she asked us so we told her.
I related this later to my friend, who is a member of staff, as I am also, although only in an admin role. My friend was horrified. She said dd was just as much to blame and gave as good as she got and wasn't being bullied! She said I don't know my own child and shouldn't believe everything I'm told.
I don't know whether to be upset at her opinion of my daughter, who she's known since she was a baby, or wonder if I've actually made a mistake and now made it worse by discussing it with the Ofsted inspector.
I gently questioned dd later and she got upset and thought I didn't believe her. Obviously I believe and support her, this has been going on for ages and she's not the only one having a hard time with this girl.
I just don't know what to think now. I wonder if I ought to ask the teachers tomorrow? The trouble is every time I've approached them before they've clammed up and closed ranks and made me feel like 'that' parent.
This friend seams to know an awful lot about classroom/ playground bullying for someone in an admin role! Is it possiblly a bit more likely shes stressed in inspection mode and possibly being defensive of the school.
If being labeled that mum gets you a happy at school child then don't let the fear of it stop you progressing this until you're satisfied the school are treating your concerns seriously.
Regarding what the teacher said they'd do to punish not your child, what not your child did to another not your child, i know its distressing but its not your battle and those childrens needs may be being handled in a way you can't and shouldn't be privy to.
If your DD is concerned about going into school because this childs ongoing behaviour has been worrying her then it would be appropriate to ask whats going to be done to support your DD. Sometimes being that mum gets things done.
The teachers certainly won't be keen on talking to you tomorrow.
Well that's true. She's my priority, not their Ofsted rating. Although that is quite important obviously but a bit out of my control!
What happens to the other girl is of course none of my business but it would just be nice to be able to show dd that they do keep to their word and will put actions in place to keep her safe. They're bloody hot enough on safeguarding, I have to attend a course myself, so they ought to want to help.
Sorry that was to Flouncy. Yes I'm wondering how popular I'll be tomorrow. They had a meeting after school tonight and it might have been mentioned. The inspector doesn't know who I am but they may guess from the description.
No I wouldn't tell anyone at school. You were asked into a meeting as a parent, and you have to be honest. You told her your experience, and that's what you should do. It will only be one tiny part of all the information the inspector will process.
You were right to be honest about your experience. And you shouldn't feel bad about that. Really no need to discuss.
To me, it seems quite inappropriate and undermining for a member of staff (have I got that right?) to use an OFSTED inspection to raise concerns about something that they had not formally raised with the headteacher.
The implications of a negative OFSTED inspection are huge, for the school, the staff - and for the pupils, including your child. Failing schools are not happy places for children or adults.
Of course OFSTED is there to protect children, and parents are right to be honest - but you don't seem to have even had a conversation with the teacher, let alone the head, about your concerns.
I think it's unlikely that the Inspector will give any feedback that will identify you, but your friend who is also a staff member may well say something and yes, it could make thigns quite awkward for you for a while.
It's kind of irrelevant wether ofsted know who you are or aim to keep your complaint/observation anonymous as you have now told a member of staff. I doubt she'll keep quiet if it becomes a big thing, if not going straight to the head first thing to tell her anyway.
I'm sure, wether or not the complaint itself becomes an actual big thing, you are now the "parent who tried to get the school in real trouble with authorities" in the Headteachers eyes and may have lost any sympathy or inclination to help your situation beyond basic guidelines.
You'd think OFSTED inspectors have enough experience and common sense not to be disproportionately influenced by one parent's point of view though. Naturally they will hear from many parents who only have their own child's perspective on how things are handled and they should be able to explore with the school to see if there are genuinely issues that need to be addressed, whether this was a one off that the school should have handled differently or whether the school have handled perfectly well but naturally as a parent you are protective of your own child's interests over those of others, especially when you don't have all the information about how the other child's behavior is being managed. If the school get a negative report, it would be madness to think it was solely a result of one anecdotal incident seen from one parent's perspective.
So, bit awkward, might have been best not to share with colleague and fellow parent that you have been critical of the school with OFSTED, people can close ranks a bit, but the OFSTED rating in no way sits on your shoulders!
If it goes beyond a bit of awkwardness and you are treated differently, that would be very wrong, you shouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable for speaking openly with inspectors as a parent.
I wasn't the only parent to voice concerns after the meeting and my views weren't as strong as some that others expressed.
DebCee obviously I have spoken to the teacher and the head about this, about three times now. And I didn't particularly request to speak to the inspector about it, she asked our concerns as parents and a few of us spoke up. I'm not headhunting.
The school is currently trying to get out of its inadequate rating, which came as a shock after consistently outstanding ratings. It is on the whole a lovely school and up until now we've always been very happy. I'm sure one parent can't influence a whole report. Their sats results, lack of management, safeguarding and staff issues are rather more pressing at the moment.
I am pissed off with my friend though. Her reaction surprised me. Clearly she's not as much of a friend as I thought. I can see where her loyalties lie and I won't discuss school matters with her in future.
I'm really surprised that, as a member of staff, you didn't follow the complaints procedure. I'm also surprised that you expect a child to be expelled after 'three strikes' as I don't know any school that operates like that. But perhaps you're not in England and have a different policy?
Oh for goodness sake. Why would you assume that I haven't followed any kind of procedure? But I may have inadvertently confused you over the 'strike and out' thing, it means a days exclusion. Not expulsion!
You haven't said that you followed procedure. Did you put your complaint in writing? Did you send a copy to the governors? Have you read the school's bullying policy? What does it say?
You seem ill informed and have therefore resorted to blurting out to OFSTED something that should have been dealt with by the proper channels.
Fine if you make a considered decision to contact OFSTED after all other avenues have failed. But it doesn't sound like you have done that.
If there was fault on both sides in the ongoing problems between your daughter and the other girl then I would have expected the school to tell you that. If my son has a problem with another child I always ask about the events leading up to the incident and whether he was partly responsible. So if the school haven't said anything to that effect I'm surprised your friend think she knows better. You could always ask the teacher now your friend has said this to se if there's any truth in it.
I can understand loyalty to the school but why shouldn't you tell the OFSTED Inspector the truth about your experience. They will be taking all the evidence together. So if yours is a lone voice it won't do the school any harm. But if it's part of a pattern then the inspector should be able to build up an overall picture.
I see your point Fairenuff, and that would have been the next logical step but unfortunately the Ofsted inspector arrived first. If things aren't resolved then my husband and I will pop in for a meeting with the teacher and the head. If it still isn't resolved then yes we will put something in writing. I'm sure it wouldn't get to that stage though.
Oh and I have asked about the anti-bullying policy but they don't seem to be able to lay their hands on it just at the moment.
Everyone in the school will be aware. who spoke to the inspectors. Your friend will have told someone, or lots of people and it will be all over the school.
There's no such thing as an informal meeting with an Ofsted inspector. All inspectors enter the school having formed a hypothesis based on the data from the school, school improvement plan and a range of other paperwork they will have had prior to the inspection. They use the time in school delving more into all of that to either prove or disprove the hypothesis.
Your meeting would have helped them to prove or disprove their views about behaviour in the school and to make a judgement.
My friend was horrified. She said dd was just as much to blame and gave as good as she got and wasn't being bullied! She said I don't know my own child and shouldn't believe everything I'm told.
Yes, you've known your child since birth, but have you seen her actually function/behave in a school environment? Could there actually be some truth in this? We all want to believe our own children aren't capable of anything other than lovliness..I realise that...
As for Ofsted...nothing is off the record and yes, you've made things awkward I would imagine.
I am surprised though that you have completely dismissed another version told to you by a friend and staff member...
Well not dismissed exactly, I'm under no illusions, I've heard dd1 bossing dd2 about sometimes. And I do see her in a school setting as I do work there myself occasionally. Would you be ok with a friend calling your child a liar?
Anyway. I was in today and everyone was perfectly normal and their usual friendly selves so no, I don't think it's been mentioned. We're now on half term so hopefully that's the end of it. I'm still going to keep an eye on things though. I was perfectly entitled to mention it and I won't be dissuaded from supporting my own child if she needs it.
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