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Separating twins in reception - been told its not up for discussion by Head!

(61 Posts)
HammerHeadShark Wed 03-Jun-09 15:34:49

I would be very grateful for some advice/experiences of this. My non-id girls start reception in September. I had enquired to the school office and also on an open day of any specific policy on separating twins and was told there was none though separation was encouraged and usual, but it could be doscussed. Last night at a prospective parents evening I was told by the Head very firmly that it is school policy to separate twins and not up for discussion, after asking when it would be decided if they were separate or together.

I had been leaning towards keeping them together but am now shocked and upset at the "not up for discussion" stance, as I feel I only want my DCs to be happy at a big transition time.

I wrote her a letter outlining my concerns re: the confusion over policy, asking what would be in place to support them if separated and also if they could be placed back together if the separation did not work.

I have been summoned to the office next week to discuss and feel about 10 years old again! Would be very grateful for any advice on what to say or experiences of similar issues. I am wary of being labelled a troublemaker before they even start school, but feel I do need to voice my concerns. Many thanks for any thoughts!(Will also post on multiple board)

BonsoirAnna Wed 03-Jun-09 15:40:00

All the schools I have ever come across have separated twins - and I am talking about several different countries/cultures. So I think you shouldn't worry - just ask the headteacher about support for your twins during the transition of them no longer being together all day (which is quite justified).

hobbgoblin Wed 03-Jun-09 15:48:59

What is the current thinking on twin separation? I mean, from an educationalist perspective and from a behaviourist one. I know little about the subject. However, a long concern of mine re. educational institutions has been the lack of parent/school liaison. Only a few schools do this well in my experience.

I have no comment to make on the school policy - as I said, it's not an area of personal knowledge - but I would be concerned by the possible unwillingness to work cohesively. It may be a school but that does not mean that what they say goes without proper open discussion.

I hope you get that at your meeting. Have hope in the fact that the meeting has been suggested at least.

SoupDragon Wed 03-Jun-09 15:55:32

Our school separates twins (and triplets ). From what I've seen, it works well. Certainly in reception, the 3 classes play together outside a lot of the time and are constantly mingling so any separation is gradual.

cuppateaplease Wed 03-Jun-09 16:06:42

The only set of twins at our school that I have knowledge of have stayed together in the same class from reception through to yr 6. I hadn't realised that this was unusual!

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 03-Jun-09 16:10:03

Message withdrawn

Greensleeves Wed 03-Jun-09 16:12:17

I think parents should have a say in this. Dictatorial and rude of the Head to say it's "not up for discussion". They're your children, their education should be a two-way process. I would be wary of a school where the parent/school relationship started like this, tbh.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Wed 03-Jun-09 16:19:33

From what I hear on the school governor grapevine, practice in schools around here varies (and some are single form entry, so the question doesn't arise).

I think you may find that the school is resistant to any request for the twins to stay together, if their policy is to separate them, from a fear (at least in part) that other parents will then start lobbying for child A to be with child B or away from child C and so on. I know there are particular issues with siblings, but most schools (I think) are quite precious about not letting go of what they regard as school management matters.

I agree that you should push for the girls to be offered support (if they need it - they may surprise you).

HammerHeadShark Wed 03-Jun-09 18:05:24

Many thanks for all your messages - I suspect you are right that the DTs will be fine if separated and will have plenty of joint time in reception even if in separate classes.

Hobbgoblin - you are right about the parent school liaison, or lack of! An awareness earlier of the process could avoid much (parental, mainly) angst!

Greensleeves, you have hit the nail on the head - I had previously been very impressed with the school but now have reservations that a school would not be open to discussion with parents before decisions such as this are made.

MadBad - I certainly get the impression that the DTs will be separated despite any meeting. I am just disappointed that despite asking twice regarding their policy I was told there was no set policy until last night when places had already been allocated and accepted. I had been keen to only apply to places that had no rigid policy either way and made decisions based on the individuals.

Thanks again for all taking the time to post, it is much appreciated.

Mintyy Wed 03-Jun-09 18:10:42

Just wanted to say hello Hammerhead, as you are an infrequent poster.

You came to my house and bought my boooster seat from me, do you remember? I had a different name then.

Can't believe your girls are starting school in September!

The twins in our school are separated, also non-negotiable, I believe. We have a set of triplets in my DD's year, and they are separated too - luckily we have a big school with a 3 form intake.

Hope you got lots of good value use from the booster seat grin.

lljkk Wed 03-Jun-09 18:20:27

Twins at our school are often kept together.

Hulababy Wed 03-Jun-09 18:30:52

Think it is discussed between staff and parents at school I work at. They decide what is best for each set of twins/triplets and take it from there. It is also possible to change your mind at a later date if the current situation isn't working.

We have twins in same class and twins in seperate classes. Both seem to work well for the siblings involved.

I think the parent/teacher discussion is the key here.

Not an issue at DD's school. Only one form intake, so twins are kept together. Not been a problem.

abermum Wed 03-Jun-09 18:33:09

we live in a fairly small town and most schools have 1 form intake- so we made the decision to split the twins totally- different schools. This was due to my own childhood as a twin- i was the academic, dtsis was the artistic/imaginative one- we both hated being compared.

clam Wed 03-Jun-09 18:41:09

In our school, we've usually kept them them together until about the end of Year 1 or 2, when often the 2 classes are jumbled anyway, as often by then, imbalances in the groups have emerged. Unless the parent has requested they be separated before then, as often they do. Certainly in KS2 they'd be separated.

tkband3 Wed 03-Jun-09 18:51:31

At our school the policy is to separate twins, which I am perfectly happy with as I have id twins who I feel will benefit. Particularly as one of their nursery teachers still can't tell them apart without examining their faces for DT1's birthmark (or lack of it, in DT2's case) hmm.

However, in this year's reception intake there were two sets of twins. One pair were quite happy to be separated, the others became very distressed at the idea and so the school allowed them to settle in to reception in the same class before being separated, which I believe worked well. The classes work together a lot anyway, and certainly play together so in reception the separation is less of an issue and once they are in Y1, they should have settled into their own friendship groups.

As you say, the DTs will be almost certainly be fine, but like you, I would be unimpressed with the school's attitude and lack of willingness to even discuss a compromise.

Good luck with your meeting next week.

OrangeFish Wed 03-Jun-09 18:57:25

I understand what you mean, I got the same sort of response from a headmaster regarding a particular issue of DS's health. Although I was expecting no special favours and I knew they couldn't do much for it and my questions were intended to understand how the school worked to find how I could help my child, the negative attitude he took towards my questions ( he just dismissed me as if I were a trouble maker) made me thought that that was not the school for DS, not because I disagreed with their practices but because I couldn't bear a school where dialogue with parents was discouraged. So I sent him to another school.

LetsEscape Wed 03-Jun-09 20:03:18

I think it's generally thought better to separate twins and I think research does support this - so that part of the original post doesn't surprise me but the 'not up for discussion' part is unusual. I would like the head to provide me with the research findings as she is obviously very sure this is the best way forward. Perhaps inviting you to her/his office may be a way of allowing a discussion.

dancingbear Wed 03-Jun-09 20:14:53

I experienced this at my kid's first nursery school - I had thought that I'd separate them but was shocked that it had been forced upon me and they had no strategies for settling two 3 year old into separate classrooms. Mums of single children were encouraged to join their children in their settling in day for 30 mins before attempting to leave them - what was I to do with 2 kids starting on the same day - I was confronted with blank faces and few suggestions. I ended up taking them after the classroom session and they settled quickly anyway but it's typical of how school insist on twin policies without thinking through consequences.

Now they attend a small primary with only one class per year - I believe they would have beeen better off in separate classes because I have one child who is depending too much on the other and a teacher who constantly compares their academic differences.

BUT I firmly believe that the decision on whether to separate each set of twins should be made by consensus between the parents and the school.

HammerHeadShark Wed 03-Jun-09 20:21:15

Mintyy - thank you - how fab to be remembered! I remember picking the booster seat up from you when I was just pregnant with DD3 - she is now trying to escape from it unsuccessfully on a regular basis! Hope all is well with you and yours.

Thanks so much for all your replies. I particularly appreciate hearing from teachers and how this issue is addressed at your schools. I do feel discussion would be the key here. Whilst I feel my DTs would be happier together I understand that the school will have experience of teaching multiples and I want to remain open minded to their recommendations and not be a nightmare parent! If they insist on separating them (which I think will be the case) I would want to know how they would deal with potential anxiety from my girls and that the situation could be flexible at any time if not working - is that being too cheeky?

arbermum - that is really interesting, particularly your experience of being a twin also. You must have fantastic organisational skills to get the school run done - I am in awe.

tkband3 - I think I remember you from TAMBA olden-times! Hope all is well. If my twins were ID I think I would definitely separate them, but I have a tall curly redhead and a petite blonde - people often doubt they are sisters let alone twins, which has always made it easier for people to perceive them as individuals I think. The example in your post highlights my feeling that there is no "one size fits all" solution - and I am frustrated that a non-negotiable policy seems to veer away from treating multiples as individuals.

Can I ask those of you who have asked your DTs what they want how you have approached this - as I am fairly certain mine will ask to stay together.

Thanks so much for all your posts - it is very helpful.

skibelle Wed 03-Jun-09 20:27:23

Sorry if this has been said already, or if I've missed a trick here but, OP, I don't really understand how you can complain that you're being 'summoned to the office to discuss' yet your saying that the issue is not up for discussion? Surely 'not up for discussion' would be a polite but firm letter saying that they will not enter into a discussion? The fact they have asked you to meet implies that they are willing to discuss. What do you want/expect from them at this stage otherwise?

For what it's worth, I have taught twins in the same class and in parallel classes and think they are (on the whole) much better off in different classes. The only time I've found it better with them in the same class is if they have very specific/medical needs etc.

Paolosgirl Wed 03-Jun-09 20:30:50

DS has a set of twins in his class - there is only the one class, so it wasn't an option to seperate them! They both do very well, have no medical or educational needs, and have not suffered in anyway by being kept together. I didn't realise that schools prefer to seperate.

duckyfuzz Wed 03-Jun-09 20:35:10

our school is single class entry and there are 3 sets of twins in reception, including my non id girls. They don't seem to play together much at school but get on better at home than they did before starting school. I'm sure yours will be fine and there could well be benefits for you!

abermum Wed 03-Jun-09 20:40:50

hammerhead- both schools have breakfast clubs so the boys take it in turns to get to school early grin

edam Wed 03-Jun-09 20:43:39

Agree with you that the head's manners could do with some work. You've made two attempts to raise the issue, been given the same advice each time, only now to find the head flatly contradicting that and telling you it's 'not up for discussion'. VERY rude.

Whatever happened to treating each child as an individual? If they were, they wouldn't be insisting on fitting your girls into a box marked 'twins, how to deal with them'.

Lizipads Wed 03-Jun-09 20:49:12

I am curious that you are thinking of asking your dt's what they want. It never occurred to me to ask mine, they were too young, they had never been to school, so how would they know?? I'll obviously ask each individual child about secondary schools, but decisions about a 5 year old should be made by parents and teachers, not by 5 year olds themselves.

The fact that your dts are not identical has no bearing on other people's unending ability to think of them as a "unit", but the research DOES show that separated fraternal twins cope fine and actually it can be the id ones that find it more difficult. There's a great book called "Parenting School Age Twins and Multiples" by Christina Tinglof which will give you the research context plus a lot of different people's exoeriences.

I think you should go next week willing to listen and maybe even be a bit humble. From your original post, it sounds like you fired off a letter to the school immediately after being told something you didn't like (you said "last night" you were told and by the following afternoon you had submitted a letter and received a request to discuss). You may not want to hear this but I suspect your card may, as a consequence, already be marked, so you should definitely make it clear that next time you would make an appointment first, to discuss something you're not sure you've understood correctly. IME it's never a good idea to go in all guns blazing when dealing with schools, no matter how strongly you feel you're in the right - it just entrenches people in their original position and makes change even less likely. If you want dialogue with the school, then you have to rise above the things you don't like, and not let them think of you as the sort who puts every problem as a written complaint.

Sounds a bit harsh - sorry don't mean to, just not finding the right words tonight.

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