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What is reasonable?

(16 Posts)
Olympias Tue 03-Nov-09 13:03:39

I came to UK from America with my DH and DS (4.5 year old) a few months ago.
DS started school this September. It is a small village school(state) and he goes to a mixed
reception/year 1 class of 30 kids. There is another straight reception class there.

He's been unable to settle: he cries most mornings before we even set off, he cries when I drop
him off and, according to the teacher, he is intermittently unhappy during the school day.
Although he is very articulate and talkative, my DH and I couldn't get out of him the causes of
his misery. He just says he dislikes the school and doesn't want to go.

I've spoken to the teacher a couple of times about it, trying to find out if she could shed some light on the problem.
The first time in September, The second, just before the half-term holidays.
Each time she would say that she was concerned as well and that she will try to
find out what the matter was and would let me know.
I've got a feeling that in between this conversations, she did not try that hard.

Is it reasonable of me to expect the teacher
- to try to find out what the problem might be.
- to actively help him settle by, for example, chatting to him when I drop him off in the morning, or
asking the TA to do that

Today, when I dropped DS off, she said she wants to talk with me in the presence of the headmaster.
I am guessing, it might mean they want to move him to the straight reception class.
I would not object to that, but the problem is I actively dislike the teacher there.
I saw her interacting with kids a few times and thought she was cold and uninvolved.
I also chatted with another mom whose son was in Mrs.C&U class last year and it turned out
she had the same opinion.

Is it OK
- to ask to sit in Mrs.C&U class for a few hours before I agree to moving my son there?
- to tell the headmaster that I did not want my son moved based on my feelings about Mrs.C&U?

My general feeling is that we made a mistake with this school, that we should
find another one with more caring teachers, but it might be, my lack of knowledge of UK school
system and of British mentality causes me to make wrong conclusions.

postal Tue 03-Nov-09 13:07:51

reception is supposed to be play based and more self-directed by children

year 1 is supposed to be more school-like

I wouldn't have thought a young 4 year old would get on in a mixed class and am surprised to hear of schools doing mixed classes from foundation to KS1, they're not even the same educational stage so how they can do that is surprising.

I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for a meeting with MrsC but to sit in her class as judge? I don't think that's on.

You have the option of taking your child out of school and puttin him back in to the mixed class when he reaches 5

I don't think you're being unreasonable though - a half-term is adequate to settle

luciemule Tue 03-Nov-09 13:18:15

I think it's very wrong to have a mixed yr 1 and recpetion and I think that the majority of schools try their hardest not to do this and if they do, they try to mix less able yr 1 children rather than more able.
That said, your DS' current teacher obviously isn't doing much to help him settle and I think that rather than moving him, she should be concentrating on helping him settle more.
I guess, your DS could have been placed originally in Mrs teacher you don't like's class but wasn't. However if he had have been, you never know, he might have settled better. Just because she seems harsh/cold etc, doesn't mean she's not great with the LOs. Would be strange to employ a recpetion teacher who wasn't quite motherly and most try to.

There is a fairly big jump in structure from prr-school to reception, however Every Child Matters and the new EYFS, should enable a seamless move over to big school and see your child as an individual who has needs differeing from others (as they all do).
At our primary (recpetion), the entry is very staggered and until they're five, the school and parents have regular chats about how often to bring them in, whether it be still only mornings, full days twice a week and the rest half days or completely full time. I think you should perhaps ask teacher if he could reduce time for a while so you pick him up after lunch for example.
Also, see if it's different if you take him in at 09:00, rather than ten to or watever it is. If he sees the class settled and ready to listen, it won't be a noisy, boisterous room full of mums going in and out, which can be quite daunting to a 4.5 yr old. smile

AtheneNoctua Tue 03-Nov-09 14:11:28

I'd look for another school. I would want my DS in eeither of thoise classes. Do you know what other states school have openings?

BTW, I too am American. Let me know if you need any translations. smile

AtheneNoctua Tue 03-Nov-09 14:12:16

I wouldn't want my DS in either of those classes.

luciemule Tue 03-Nov-09 14:18:45

Yes - that's another good option I would consider. I only moved to our area 6 months ago and ds has just started in reception and took ages to settle. Had my DD not made so many lovely friends, I wouldn't hesitate in moving them both to much nicer village school a mile away.

Littlefish Tue 03-Nov-09 16:09:49

I would go to the meeting and see what they suggest before you make any decisions.

FWIW, I thought my dd's teacher was farily cold and uninvolved. In fact, although her manner with parents is not great, her manner in the classroom with the children is much better. I go in and help with reading, so I've seen it at first hand.

I've taught a mixed Rec/Yr 1 class which worked really well. However, I had the older Reception children and the younger Yr1 children, so in fact, there was less than 6 months age gap between them.

mrz Tue 03-Nov-09 18:36:05

I agree with littlefish go to the meeting rather than trying to guess what they want to talk about. It would be very unusual for them to suggesting moving classes mid year.
Mixed Reception/Y1 classes can work very well depending on the teacher and many, many schools work this way.

Olympias Wed 04-Nov-09 11:55:23

Thanks to everybody for their comments.
The teacher spoke briefly to me this morning
and did indicate that the meeting will be about moving my son to the other class.
In view of this I'd like to re-iterate my
questions from the first post:

Is it reasonable of me to expect a teacher
- to try to find out what the problem might be?
- to actively help him settle?

Is it OK
- to ask to observe the other teacher's class for a while before I agree to moving my son there?
- to object to my son being moved to the other class based on my opinion of the teacher (if it is still negative)

Your answers would help me a lot!

mary21 Wed 04-Nov-09 12:15:09

You couls offer to help in school in those 2 classes and just watch. I helped in my sons reception class and it was quite revealing. the parrallel class was next door and the 2 classes mixed alot. Interesting to see the different dynamic between the 2 classes

cory Wed 04-Nov-09 12:53:23

My pennyworth:

"Is it reasonable of me to expect a teacher
- to try to find out what the problem might be?
- to actively help him settle?"

Yes, but how can you know that she hasn't? Your ds may simply refuse to tell her what the problem is, however much she tries- after all, he hasn't actually told you a lot either and you're his Mum.

"Is it OK
- to ask to observe the other teacher's class for a while before I agree to moving my son there?
- to object to my son being moved to the other class based on my opinion of the teacher (if it is still negative)"

No, this has got to be the school's responsibility, not yours. It would be impossible to run a school if every parent decided to do a personal evaluation of the teacher in advance and then expected the school to match the child up with the one they preferred.

Besides, you have no means of knowing that a teacher won't be right for your son, just because you don't like her. Those friends of mine who have based their expectations of a teacher on their own impressions have been very taken aback when their dcs have either loved the one they thought cold and uncaring or absolutely hated the one they thought had a wonderful personality. Your ds is not you.

Littlefish Wed 04-Nov-09 13:36:55

I agree with everything Cory has said.

Bucharest Wed 04-Nov-09 13:44:02

Did your child go to any kind of pre-school in the US?
Could it be simply that, together with the upheaval of moving to the UK, another huge step is starting school and he's just taking longer than you'd like to settle?
Dd started primary in September and there are still a few kids clinging weepily to their parents every morning. Some kids just need longer to settle.

You really mustn't even ask to sit in on the class. They will (rightly) brand you a PFB loon for the duration and it will do neither you or your child any good at all.

Work with the school. Tbh, the fact that the teacher has spoken to you, organised these meetings and is seemingly thinking of moving your child means that she is doing everything humanly possible when she has 30 other children to assess.

Undercovamutha Wed 04-Nov-09 13:58:36

I find it very odd that they put him in the mixed class straight away anyway, seeing he was new to the area/country.
Our primary school (which has a nursery year and has mixed classes) always puts the newer children in the classes that are mixed with the younger kids. E.g. there was a new 4.5 yo this term, who was not at the school for the nursery year, so rather than putting her in the straight reception class, she was put in the mixed nursery/reception class so that it would be easier for her to adjust.

I would be inclined to speak clearly to the school about your concerns, and let THEM suggest some solutions.

Some of the parents at our school go into other classes to help with reading etc, now and then, and most of them actually do it so that they can get more of an insight into how the school actually works. This can really put minds at rest and is more positive than seeming to be 'checking up' on teachers. This can be a great idea as it is SO hard to get anything out of the DCs most of the time. Me and my friends refer to school as 'Fight Club' (as in the film) in that the first rule of school seems to be that noone talks about school grin!

aristocat Wed 04-Nov-09 14:08:18

hi Olympias,
please dony ask to sit in on the class. it wont help anyway.
agree with Bucharest that perhaps DS is taking longer to settle.

at my DCs school there are always a few kids who cling to mummy in the morning.

give the teacher a chance Mrs Cold cant be that bad or why would she be a teacher?

Danthe4th Wed 04-Nov-09 14:24:02

I think you're expecting quite a lot from a 4 year old who has moved countries let alone started school.
Legally he does not have to be in school, I would consider shortening the week up until xmas.
You won't gain anything by sitting in on a class, if you are not confident you've made the right choice of school, then go and look at some others before making a decision.
It sound like the school are helping and are concerned, give them a chance to help your ds
He is under the eyfs curriculum so it doesn't make much difference if he is in a mixed class or not.
My ds is the same age and goes to a small village school, 54 in total up to year 6 with rec, yr1 and yr2 in one room but they all work seperately, this is a skill that many schools can manage and many children cope well with, it does have advantages as well.

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