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Chewing things in class

(16 Posts)
debs40 Mon 22-Sep-08 07:05:03

I posted below on God and science.

I had trouble with my son's school last week because of the way they had introduced the creation story into a science lesson. I ended up seeing the Head on Friday who was very defensive and not at all constructive in our discussion.

One of the other issues I wanted to discuss with her was three incidents over the last week in which my son had been pushed/dragged and had received cuts/grazes in the playground. He had reported this to staff and had treatment but no one had told me.

The Head is new this term. She accepted that I should have been told about the playground incidents but, during our meeting, she also told me how she had watched my son play . She said he had been playing 'all on his own'. But she also said, although on his own, he was playing 'quite aggressively' when she watched him. She had watched a little girl go over to him and their interaction but that had been fine.

She wondered whether this was how he usually played.

I was taken aback by this. I explained that he often played imaginative games like Peter Pan or Batman on his own. My son has a close friend at school with whom he plays all the time so I thought it a strange thing to say. I said he had a friend and I thought he was happy at playtime.

She then got up to get some things from her desk and showed me my son's pencils and exercise book which he had chewed. She said this had been brought to her by the supply teacher he had had the day before. She wondered whether he'd done this because he was anxious. Was he an anxious child?

I was a bit taken aback at having to talk about this in a discussion about RE/playground policy but I told her he often chewed on things.

She told me all this without seeming at all concerned for him. I really felt she was 'having a go' at me. Your criticise us, we'll criticise your son.

The Head had already scheduled the school nurse to join us at the end of the meeting so she could review an 'accident plan' which was drawn up for my son when he first started school and had a few toilet accidents. I had had to get the school to do this with the nurse after they had cleaned my son up and sent him him one day. But there no problem for at least 7 months.

I feel really uncomfortable with all this.

It is not the way that I would handle a meeting with a parent or the way I would raise any genuine concerns. I have had to raise complaints before at school because there were many problems with the old Head and I just got the feeling that she was setting out her stall.

What do you think? Am I being paronoid? I just feel that the next thing to expect is a complaint about my son's behaviour.

cornsilk Mon 22-Sep-08 07:14:12

You are not paranoid - is very weird response. What did you say about the creation story to her?

debs40 Mon 22-Sep-08 07:27:23

Well, basically, my son is doing 'light and dark' as a cience topic. We had a note about it so we could bring torches etc in.

I asked my son what he had done at school last Monday. He told me they had been studying 'light and dark'. I asked what he'd learnt and he said 'there was darkness and then God created the earth and the light'.

I raised this with my son's teacher who turned out to be the RE coordinator. She said she had taught this in RE separately from science and my son had 'made the link' not her. She had prefaced it with 'Christians believe this' and then played a power point presentation.

The thing is there are three Year 1 classes and two of them got together to watch this. Some of the other mums say their children said similar things and it was not introduced as 'christians believe'.

A poster in another room linking the light and dark topic with 'God the creator' has been removed after another complaint.

I spoke to the Head about my own concerns and did not mention anyone else. I asked that they ensure they separated clearly the topics for children (she blamed my son for making the link - they can't control his mind) and I also asked that they do an introduction to teaching religion so the children knew the difference between fact and opinion. She said they did - they don't

She said I should withdraw him from RE and worship if I'm so concerned. I thought that was unnecssarily aggreesive when I was trying to establish a dialogue. I told her this but there lots of non-repsonses to my comments

Threadwworm Mon 22-Sep-08 07:39:09

Well although of course it's possible that the RE/Science teacher is not making enough of a separation of topics, it does seem likely that your son is just joining two similar themes in his mind (depending onhis age, of course). In Reception my DS1 told me that 'Jesus is the light of the world' and when I asked him what this meant he said that perhaps Jesus carried a torch.'

I would think that they do discuss the difference between fact and opinion, but small children will take a while sorting out this distinction fully.

I'm an atheist but I was entirely happy for my children to be exposed to our CofE primary school's drip-feeding of Christian culture. Children need to make a decision betwen faith and no-faith. Since our household is atheist, the school was a useful place to be informed of the alternative. I don't want them to choose in ignorance.

It does sound that perhaps you are a little over concerned and the suggestion that you take your child out of RE seemed like a reasonable one.

debs40 Mon 22-Sep-08 08:00:03

Thanks but I have no wish to ostracise my child by removing him from class for RE. I think there are lots of good things he can learn from it - if it is taught properly and is not exclusively christian.

I made this clear to the Head before she made that comment.

Other children made pictures on the light and dark topic which included torches, the sun, and 'God made the world'. it is not a link he is making alone.

My son understood the distinction between fact and belief when I explained it to him. He had not been told this before.

In any event, this post was about the way the Head raised other issues with me.

I bent over backwards to be constructive and accomodating but was greeted with hostility.

I have no objection to school raising issues but in such a difficult meeting it seemed unnecssary to raise such petty matters without making any particular point on them.

debs40 Mon 22-Sep-08 08:03:28

I should add that this is a non-denominational school under a legal obligation to teach RE in a certain way.

But again that is not really the matter concerning me here

AbbeyA Mon 22-Sep-08 08:09:34

It sounds to me as if your son has made the link, especially if the 2 lessons were taught on the same day.
The RE should have been clear that they were studying Christianity and if they were looking at the Bible (which I would imagine they were)then it is the opening chapter.
The problems with introductions on fact and opinion is that children in year 1 are too young to understand the distinction.They don't even get the term 'Christians believe'.
You have the option of withdrawing him from RE but I agree with Threadwworm.
I would have a quiet word with his class teacher and ask if she has any concerns about his behaviour, because she will know him better than the Head and the supply teacher.

debs40 Mon 22-Sep-08 08:21:18


I am happy with what I think happened regarding the God issue! My son does not need to be withdrawn from a school which teaches RE effectively. He is not the only one to 'make the link'. At best this is ineffective teaching. But there is more history to this and I don't want to divert the post further.

My concern is the Head's attitude. She wasn't at all willing to engage in any discussion on this and was quite rude. I really was not and raised the issue first by email in a polite and non-critical way

It is always frustrating when professionals act like this. You need to keep it polite yourself but it feels like you are being bullied if they cannot do the same

My son's teacher has said he has settled in well and had a lovely start to term.

I just realy feel uncomfortable with a school that treates parents concerns like this.

Maybe she was just a poor communicator but it felt like she was trying to make a policy issue personal. Maybe it's just me but I find that unprofessional

AbbeyA Mon 22-Sep-08 08:53:07

I would just pop in and see the class teacher, especially as she has already been positive. Tell her what the Head said about the chewing etc and see what she says. Perhaps you just have a peculiar Head! They don't all have good people skills.

cory Mon 22-Sep-08 09:33:17

Had similar behaviour from a Head myself: 'you criticise us and I will find fault with your dcs!'. Petty, but there it is. You talk to the class teacher and if she is happy then be thankful that she is the one your ds has to deal with every day. May be worth keeping notes about strange comments made.

debs40 Mon 22-Sep-08 10:29:18

Thanks folks. It just seems like I'm always popping in for a chat with the teacher! The chewing was never mentioned as an issue last year and I'm surprised that it would trouble an experienced head! Just seems like bitchiness.

I emailed this morning and confirmed what she had told us and how we had advised our son not to chew books etc! Honestly.

magso Mon 22-Sep-08 10:44:11

Is the head new this term? She may still be getting to know the children. It may be that playing alone, chewing pencils and having an accident plan flagged up a worry for her and she started to bark up the wrong tree so to speak!

debs40 Mon 22-Sep-08 10:56:43

Thanks for that magso. She is new and my son's class teacher was off Thursday and Friday so it could be that.

If it is that, it is a shame she didn't think to do it a bit more sensitively. Mums worry about anythign and everything. Well I do!

magso Mon 22-Sep-08 12:42:33

Ah! Did she go to observe your son because she knew you were coming to see her (and she doesnt yet feel confident she knows all the children) and was second guessing why- and the class teacher wasn't there to ask! Maybe she guessed you were worried about your sons progress or similar rather than the teaching. As a new head there are probably a lot of things she is not fully up to speed on - yet. Some people unfortunately get defensive when uncertain - which I agree is unhelpful. But she did try to prepare by watching your child and speaking to his supply teacher - so she may just need time to get settled in.
I worry about everything too.

debs40 Mon 22-Sep-08 12:58:23

Honestly, you have made me feel so much better Magso! I'd much prefer to go with your theory about why she brought it all up.

She told me she had gone to watch him as she didn't know who he was yet. I had also warned her that I wanted to discuss the injuries my son had had in the playground.

The fact that she brought all these issues up at once made me feel under siege although I didn't respond defensively like she did- but then we're not all perfect!

Thanks so much. it shows how important clear communication is

debs40 Mon 22-Sep-08 12:59:45

Honestly, you have made me feel so much better Magso! I'd much prefer to go with your theory about why she brought it all up.

She told me she had gone to watch him as she didn't know who he was yet. I had also warned her that I wanted to discuss the injuries my son had had in the playground.

The fact that she brought all these issues up at once made me feel under siege although I didn't respond defensively like she did- but then we're not all perfect!

Thanks so much. it shows how important clear communication is

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