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How do I speak to teacher about this issue?

(51 Posts)
trumpisaflump Sat 09-Nov-19 12:09:31

Please go easy on me as I know this post makes me sound like a horrible person!
My son is 9 and in p5 (Scotland). He goes to a smallish local primary school and we've never had any issues. Previously there were two classes of around 18 children in his year group but this year as a few kids have left they are all together so a class of 33 p5 children. A couple of issues have cropped up like not having enough reading books to go round the class so they have to share and no reading or maths homework has been sent home this year (he's had two projects to do at home but that's it)
My biggest issue at the moment is that his teacher has arranged the class in such a way that a 'clever' child is sitting next to a not so clever one. I know this as the classes were split last year into reading and maths ability. The child my son is sitting next to has a global developmental delay and struggles academically. He constantly interrupts my son and asks for help with reading and writing all day every day. The school has a policy along the lines of 'ask for three and then ask me' which I think means the pupils must ask for help from other pupils three times before interrupting the teacher.
So my issue is my son is being constantly distracted by the other child. He has asked me a few times how to deal with this as he doesn't want to hurt his feelings. He's tried to encourage him to try himself a bit more, then he progressed to saying he wasn't allowed to tell him the answer. He's still interrupting him lots and believe me my DS isn't the best at holding his concentration!
My DS is now saying they have to share a phonics card and as the other boy is on the lowest level, my DS has to use the lowest level too. My DS is a great reader and this is concerning me.
It's parents evening on Wed and I'm wondering if these are valid concerns to speak to the teacher about. Or is this just life and my DS should learn to deal with it?

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OnTheEdgeOfTheNight Sat 09-Nov-19 12:15:03

Stick to the facts, ask the teacher which phonics reading level card your son is using. Ask if they're sharing cards. Ask why he's on that level. Regarding the homework etc, get clarification and take it up with the head teacher (or similar). Ask how much assistance they expect pupils to give to one another. Ask how they feel this is affecting your son. Don't accept this.

WhiskeyLullaby Sat 09-Nov-19 12:16:02

I don't think he should just have to deal with it.

It might be great for the other kid, but if it keeps your son back or impacting his ability to do the work then that is not ok.

I had this with DD and eventually intervened because she either got in trouble or had to miss play because she spent too much time helping another child. That child was also fairly manipulative playing the "you're not my friend anymore if you don't help me " card.

Have a chat about his progress,his ability to finish his work and if they are impacted then suggest a different seating arrangement for him as at the moment he's not coping and being distracted.

At the risk of sounding like a dick,your responsibility is your own child's wellbeing and learning,not the other child.

CaptainMyCaptain Sat 09-Nov-19 12:16:21

You should definitely talk about it. It isn't the teacher's fault resources are scarce but the arrangement seems odd. Your son's view of it might be skewed or it might be correct but you can ask the teacher to explain and tell her how he feels. I have used mixed pairings before in occasional lessons but not all the time.

trumpisaflump Sat 09-Nov-19 12:18:33

Good advice @OnTheEdgeOfTheNight. I'll purely stick to the facts. The school has just published a homework policy but this states the kids should get literacy and numeracy homework and they've had neither so far this year (started back in the middle of August in Scotland)

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rededucator Sat 09-Nov-19 12:21:54

I agree with having mixed ability groups for social seats and Big Task (topic) subjects but my p5 the children should be moving seats for maths and literacy. So absolutely raise this on Wednesday. As I teacher I question how the teacher offers additional support to the Support Group kids unless they are grouped at one table with the teacher also sat there offering further explanation and support. Similarly with the extension group and core. If kids are spread across 5/6 tables how is targeted support or extension given?

trumpisaflump Sat 09-Nov-19 12:22:32

@CaptainMyCaptain I agree my son's version of events may be skewed. I suppose my worry is the teacher may try and reassure me everything is fine and my son's not being held back and is progressing well and then where do I go?

@WhiskeyLullaby yes totally agree my responsibility is my son's education but I maybe needed a MN opinion on if this is an important life lesson to be more caring towards others?

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fedup21 Sat 09-Nov-19 12:24:22

Speak to the teacher and stick to the facts.

My DS is now saying they have to share a phonics card

What is a phonics card? Do you mean like the other child has been given a phase 2 sound mat but yours is on phase 5
or something?

Corneliawildthing Sat 09-Nov-19 12:24:48

I'd ask the teacher just to check that what your child's saying is correct. I our school we regularly have classes of over 30 and always send homework out.

Ask for three and then ask me I hate this sort of "collaborative learning" stuff. I trained and am paid as a teacher - the kids are not angry

rededucator Sat 09-Nov-19 12:25:40

Also, regarding Homework, check the school website for policy. By P5 if your son is vote or able he will most like be off ORT and be expected to use his library book as a personal reader. Spelling words should still be given out plus research tasks. Maths perhaps less so, check his class trembly newsletter to see what they're covering and work on that

trumpisaflump Sat 09-Nov-19 12:27:53

@fedup21 I have absolutely no idea what a phonics card is blush
Me son is a nightmare explaining things but the whole class seems to use them a lot while reading. My son has always used the red card but now has to use blue as the other boy is on blue. This may or may not be a big issue!

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fedup21 Sat 09-Nov-19 12:30:27

I have no idea what that means-can he tell you what’s on them? What’s the difference between them?

trumpisaflump Sat 09-Nov-19 12:30:32

@rededucator yes the school has just published the homework policy and all children should be given literacy and numeracy homework and my DS has had neither. I'll definitely print this off and familiarise myself with it before parents evening though.

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rededucator Sat 09-Nov-19 12:33:26

I'm a Glasgow LA teacher, so anything you'd like to ask please let me know. Teachers want the best for their kids and their families. I'd recommend asking about the structure of groups during maths and literacy lessons based on differentiation and whether or not yes come to the end of the schools reading scheme and therefore on personal reading

rededucator Sat 09-Nov-19 12:33:59

Is your sons teacher a probationer or new teacher to the school?

ThatsMeInTheSpotlight Sat 09-Nov-19 12:34:46

Ask the teacher to explain to you about the phonics card. You can say it's affecting your DS' confidence because he doesn't understand why he's using a different card now.

We had similar in P6 (they don't use phonics cards but the additional support teacher left and they moved the children into other reading groups then changed the levels so everyone was on the same level).DS is an avid reader and started coming back with books that were 3 years below the level he had the previous year.

trumpisaflump Sat 09-Nov-19 12:38:31

@rededucator thanks. We're in Ayrshire. I think you're probably right as I've definitely heard him mention his personal reader so yes he must have finished all the usual reading books. The teacher isn't a probationer but he's newish to the school. Been there two years.

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BubblesBuddy Sat 09-Nov-19 12:39:10

Where I was a governor until recently, the DC that needed extra help were not in a separate class but they were seated together with a TA for literacy and numeracy as required. Their work was differentiated by the teacher but the TA practiced pre work with them, eg tables, phonics, so they could access the curriculum in smaller bite sized pieces. Other DC did work at different levels of complexity and greater depth. I don’t think the teacher is doing the best by your DS. Therefore do raise this.

I think I know where the teacher might be coming from though. A lot of research has been done on peer to peer teaching. Especially for PP children (assuming you have this in Scotland). It is very effective for the less able. It is also meant to consolidate learning for the more able pupil. I’m not so sure about this and the gap between your DS and the other child seems too great to me. If teacher is doing this, then query it. Ask to see the progress your DS is making. If it’s not excellent definitely ask if the seating policy is having an effect.

Also, I think a school that has a homework policy but doesn’t carry it out is poor. Is this why DC are leaving? What is the quality of the leadership ? Are they checking what teachers are actually doing and whether they are following policies or not. What is the general ethos at the school and are they getting DC with great progress in all years or not?

I would definitely say your DS isn’t enjoying the seating arrangement and feels its impinging in his work. However a decent teacher would have seen that. They also need a TA in this class to help with the less able. They have saved on teaching costs so must have some money available! The well-being of your DS is also important and they should listen to your concerns.

rededucator Sat 09-Nov-19 12:39:53

The phonics card might be a 5 minute starter which works as a revision for your son and a peer support Learning Experience fir the partner which be if it's both children as it support the other but revises and boosts sons confidence

CaptainMyCaptain Sat 09-Nov-19 12:43:52

* I suppose my worry is the teacher may try and reassure me everything is fine and my son's not being held back and is progressing well and then where do I go?*
Having established the facts then you'll be quite entitled to disagree and say if you think he is being held back. I don't know how things are in Scotland but if P5 = year 5 I'd be surprised if an able child that age needs a phonics card at all but I also wouldn't like it if my child was constantly being interrupted or not getting the homework he should.

rededucator Sat 09-Nov-19 12:44:37

BubbleBuddies the Scottish system is very different from the English, I've taught in both. As a governor have you taught? SfLW in Scotland are what in England are TAs. All LAs are different but currently in Glasgow my 4 for year group has 1 SfLW between us so consistent maths and Lit support is not an option. Therefore the CT should be grouping in order to best support tables

CaptainMyCaptain Sat 09-Nov-19 12:45:03

That's a possibility rededucator which puts the situation in a different light.

rededucator Sat 09-Nov-19 12:47:45

P5 is Year4

rededucator Sat 09-Nov-19 12:49:33

I completely agree that SfLW are understaffed to the detriment of the children

trumpisaflump Sat 09-Nov-19 13:11:05

I don't know what SfLW means but my DS said the less able children are taken out of the class to work with a kind of support assistant. Only 1 support assistant in a school of 180.
I have also heard the head teacher talk a lot about peer to peer support.
The parents who have taken their kids out of school haven't really said why but they are now going to a Glasgow private school which has an excellent reputation.

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