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Is this letter to DC's teacher ok?

(36 Posts)
Tessaraqt Sun 01-Dec-19 21:39:58

I had parents evening last week and she said my DD (Yr 1) is working below age related expectations at the moment in reading and handwriting - she finished reception on the expected levels for everything. DD is a pupil premium child in a school with a low amount of PP children (less than 10 children are PP in a school of 400), but it's never been discussed with me how this funding is used to benefit DD (or even if it is). Is this an ok letter to send her teacher? I don't want to have a face to face discussion because I'm not articulate and I'll just clam up.

Teacher is an NQT, if it's at all relevant.

"Dear Miss X

I hope it’s ok to write - it seemed easier than trying to catch you at the end of the day when things are hectic. At the parents evening, you said that DD is currently working below age related expectations, but that you aren’t concerned because you know she’ll get there.

Having reflected on it a bit since, I am a bit concerned now. She finished reception with “expected” levels of progress across all areas, so to be below this at the end of the first term in Yr 1 makes me think she has fallen behind on where she was, and perhaps she has struggled with the transition to Year 1 more than I had realised.

I understand DD is classed as a “Pupil Premium” child, and I am under the impression that this brings additional funding for the school.

Having looked into it, the Pupil Premium research shows that academically able pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are most at risk of under-performing, and I’m concerned DD will fall into this category and “slip through the gaps” so to speak. I think she’s enthusiastic to learn but lacks confidence in herself and her abilities, and I worry that as she’s a quiet child who neither struggles hugely nor is extraordinarily bright, she’ll continue to muddle along unnoticed, and not fulfilling her potential.

I’d really appreciate it if you could possibly speak to whoever deals with the funding at the school and see whether it’s possible for DD to receive some extra attention to bring her back up to age related expectations, so that she doesn’t fall behind further."

parrotonmyshoulder Sun 01-Dec-19 21:42:12

I think you need to contact the head, rather than an NQT, about how the PP is being spent. You’re right not to want her to slip through the net.

bloated1977 Sun 01-Dec-19 21:43:06

Do you mind me asking why she is PP? Lots of kids slip back on hitting year 1. All of a sudden they are expected to be independent and spend more time sitting down working all of a sudden.

Mistressiggi Sun 01-Dec-19 21:46:15

I think it's a nicely written letter.
I have noticed in my dealings with dcs' schools (and am a teacher as well) that to guarantee a reply you need to have an actual question in the letter. So make it clear you want them to get back to you with some information, or whatever.

Zofloramummy Sun 01-Dec-19 21:46:52

My dd is a pupil premium student, she was also behind in her maths and reading level. They did nothing in year 1 but in year 2 (more experienced teacher) she went into an extra reading class. In year 3 she was in an extra maths group and this year is in an extra group for spelling.

This smaller graded groups have been brilliant for building confidence in basic skills and she is managing much better. They were run by the TA, it maybe worth asking if your school offers anything similar?

Zofloramummy Sun 01-Dec-19 21:48:47

Actually crossed wires my dd is a free school meals child not a pupil premium child.

Quartz2208 Sun 01-Dec-19 21:51:01

Her teacher would not be the person to ask regarding PP so I would remove that bit - PP is a tricky one so would need to be asking higher up!

I would focus on asking how you can help bring her forward. It is quite common to go from expected to drop because frankly the expectations are hard (for example DS is currently seen as working towards in writing, his spelling is good, his creativity fine but because his finger spacing is large and he doesnt join up very well (Yr 2) he wont hit the target).

So you need to find out what part it is and how you can help and what extra support they have

Bubblysqueak Sun 01-Dec-19 21:56:56

Pupil premium does not have to be spent on specific children.
All schools must publish how they spend pupil premium money, usually on their website so take a look.

cornflakegirl Sun 01-Dec-19 22:00:00

The school are required to publish on their website how they are using the pp money to remove barriers to learning for the intended children.

I would say to the teacher that you are concerned your dd is slipping behind, and ask whether she thinks this is new, or whether the attainment at the end of reception was overstated. And then ask how she will tackle it in the classroom and how you can support at home.

Mentioning pp can then be the backup if you need it.

thehorseandhisboy Sun 01-Dec-19 22:00:50

Your letter has a really lovely tone - concerned but friendly and non-confrontational.

It's very difficult to have these discussions in writing - would you feel able to ask for a meeting and take a list of questions along with you?

It's also very difficult to identify exactly what is an age related expectation is in November of Y1.

I would focus on the specifics. In what areas is your dd not reaching expectations (eg comprehension, phonics, quality of handwriting, use of ambitious language etc etc), and what is being put in place to help her at school and what can you do with her at home?

It may be that the age related expectations are those at the end of the year. Most children will be below them at the moment (having not been taught the curriculum...) and she will reach age related expectations by the end of the year.

It may be that she needs some additional support to achieve this, in which case, the school should be able to let you know what that is.

Aurorie11 Sun 01-Dec-19 22:03:37

I thought the ARE are for the end of the year, so less than a term in its not surprising to be under the expectation as there’s more than two terms to reach the expectations

doritosdip Sun 01-Dec-19 22:06:45

She is below age expected because it's not July of y1 yet. The targets are for the end of each school year so I wouldn't expect her to be expected at the end of Reception then Expected in December y1 for end of y1 targets.

Tessaraqt Sun 01-Dec-19 22:09:31

@bloated1977 She's pupil premium based on my income. I split with my husband (due to DV) when I was on mat leave with my baby, so had no income at all, and she was PP for about 8 months. I understand it's an "ever6" thing now, whereby if a child is PP at all during their time in Primary, they remain that way through the duration of primary school, even though I'm now back at work again and earning (although admittedly a pittance and it's all going in childcare fees for the baby!)

The main reason I don't want to remove the PP mention is because otherwise I think the teacher is going to be too vague in telling me how to help DD. At parents evening when I asked what I could do to help she said "just keep on doing whatever you're doing, I know she'll get there, she's just that sort of child that will. Of all my children that are below expectations, she's the one I'm least worried about" and when I pushed for specifics and said "yes but what can I actually do with her at home to help her?" she said "errrrrm, make sure you keep practicing her lyrics for the Christmas production, that's so important right now, and just read every night".

So I want to mention to PP thing to try and generate something a bit more specific and not get brushed off with a vague answer.

The school does have an outline on their website about how funds should be used and mentions 1-1 for children, but AFAIK DD isn't receiving any help at all.

Embracelife Sun 01-Dec-19 22:10:49

www.gov.uk/guidance/pupil-premium-effective-use-and-accountability#effective-use-of-funding

If I understand correctly You seem to be asking for the pp funding to be spent directly on your dd but it doesn't have to be directly allocated to individual pupils .

That would be if child has ehcp with specific funding attached?

But of course you can ask how your dd is being supported and ask for a meeting to discuss any individual plan for her.

Embracelife Sun 01-Dec-19 22:17:34

Your request for 1-1 support should be based on her individual needs. Maybe ask for a meeting to discuss and ask for further assessment (standardised assessments not just teacher assessment) so you can see what her levels actually are

isittooearlyforgin Sun 01-Dec-19 22:20:00

Lovely letter. Ask her what exactly the ppg money Is being spent onthat will benefit your child, what you can do at home to support and what is being done generally at school. As a teacher myself, accountability is important.

Tessaraqt Sun 01-Dec-19 22:31:05

Ok, so if I add this paragraph too, maybe?

"and I’d also really appreciate some more concrete examples of what I should be doing with her at home. I’ll read with her every day (and I do think moving her to blue band has been a good move - she read and enjoyed this weeks book really well), and I’ll remind her about capital letters/finger spacing, but any more examples of things I should be working on her with to ensure she doesn’t fall further behind would be really appreciated"

ineedaholidaynow Sun 01-Dec-19 22:34:10

Zoflora I think that is the same thing unless your child is simply receiving universal free school meals.

OP your child will fall within the term 'disadvantaged' and they have to be monitored including their progress, and Ofsted Inspectors will be very interested in how schools are helping them to achieve their full potential.

But as others have said the money does not have to be used directly for your child. Also it might be an idea to clarify that the teacher means your child hasn't yet reached the expected standard for the end of Y1, rather than where she would expect her to be at this time of year.

ineedaholidaynow Sun 01-Dec-19 22:36:41

Very few schools can afford 1-1 support unless they get additional funding for a child with complex needs, which it doesn't sound your DD is. Pupil premium for one child is about £1,300, that wouldn't go far paying a TA's salary.

SpruceTree Sun 01-Dec-19 22:49:49

She may be not meeting expectations as it's so early in the year.
Reading with her is the most helpful thing you can do.

Zofloramummy Sun 01-Dec-19 22:53:09

Oh right I wasn’t sure if they were the same thing! Same situation I got it when I was unemployed and it’ll stay until she moves into the next phase of education (I think)

BodenGate Sun 01-Dec-19 22:59:41

It is a nice letter and shows that you want to support the teacher by doing everything you can to help her at home. If you ask for specific examples as to how you can help her at home, this gives the NQT time to think and get back to you rather than having to think quickly during parents’ evening when trust me she would have been very nervous. She can consult her mentor or more experienced teachers to help with the reply.

MistressMind Mon 02-Dec-19 01:06:05

It is a nice letter. I would perhaps remove the reference to your DD being higher ability - I don't think it adds much and the issue at the moment is that she is not meeting expected level. Also I think you need a suggestion for next steps, perhaps a quick catch up face to face, when the teacher has had a chance to look into things.

Anecdotally my DD is very strong in English but in Y5 her NQT marked her as not meeting expectations. Her more experienced Y6 teacher though that was bizarre and pulled her straight out of all the small group work she'd been assigned to help her "catch up".

Do add the paragraph about how you can help her. I would bet cold hard cash that she will do very well, with you in her corner.

cabbageking Mon 02-Dec-19 02:13:53

She won't be at ARE because they haven't covered all the work yet.
Genuine FSM children are pp children.
The teacher has no say on how it is spent. The Head will decide based on whole school needs and priorities. Parents have no say on how it is spent sorry.

Norestformrz Mon 02-Dec-19 05:21:06

This "_^*She is below age expected because it's not July of y1*^_" and this "_^*She won't be at ARE because they haven't covered all the work yet."*^_

I suggest you ignore the advice of going to the head rather than the class teacher.

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