Extra Sessions and detentions.(17 Posts)
I have two letters this week from a learning mentor at my DSs school (academy) informing me he has extra after school sessions extra lunch time session and an after school detention for missing a lunchtime session. These session are catch up sessions for the curriculum to help students to 'up' their predicted grades. According to the parents evening we attended four weeks ago my DS grades were predicted As and Bs for his GCSEs. No one mentioned he needed to attend extra sessions. It was mentioned that the Easter Revision classes held at the school would be of benefit if he could make it.
My issues are:
We live in a rural area and he gets the bus to and from school which is 7 miles away.
These sessions are not legally compulsory but he gets an after school detention for missing one and we have to make separate travel arrangements for him. If he does not attend the after school detention he will spend the day in the Supervised Learning Unit on internal exclusion, missing his regular lessons. (He missed the session because he misunderstood the learning mentor and thought the sessions started after half term not the week before).
He has a lunch time session of 45mins every day and an after school session three times a week. On Thursdays he doesn't finish school until 6pm.
There has been no communication from teaching staff or the learning mentor (everyone has one) about why he is in these extra sessions despite no concerns being raised at the parents evening and I have tried to speak to staff about this all last week only to be stoned walled by office staff.
The science sessions are actually covering the current topics taught and it seem there at least 30 students attending which makes me wonder if they are actually extending the lessons to fit it all in.
I appreciate and understand that the teachers are putting in extra time to help and ensure that students get the best grades possible. I am miffed about putting DS in after school detention for missing a session. He has only ever had one detention before this for the same reason, never been in trouble otherwise. One of the extra after school sessions clashes with an outside school activity, he plays rugby for a local club, and it makes getting there on time difficult . The school seem to be of the opinion they can enforce these sessions without my permission and punish him for missing them according to the mentor and the office staff. My DS doesn't mind attending the sessions but when I'm working its not always possible to get him home.
I am over reacting?
No. Write them a letter explaining that you are very gateful for the additional support they are offering and that your child will endeavour to attend at lunchtimes
However, unless there is an issue with behaviour, you are given to understand that detentions are inappropriate in this circumstance and, given your transport issues, the school will understand your position when you say that you will not support their policy on giving detentions for missed catch-up sessions. If the issue is regarding behaviour then you'd appreciate a call to discuss the matter.
You could also remind them that if they require the curriculum to be delivered via so many lunchtime and after school sessions that you politely suggest that they look again at their timetabling policy as it is clear not enough time is being allocated to the subject...
Your poor child doing all those extra sessions. When does he get a break?!
Sounds like they haven't covered enough of the curriculum and are making up for it
Just so long as you don't try to blame the school if he doesn't get his target grades...
I find this odd. Why would you NOT want him to get the support? Perhaps he doesn't concentrate well in lessons and the extra sessions are going to help him achieve that of which he is capable.
Schools can't win, can they? If there were no sanctions for not attending extra sessions then lots of kids wouldn't go nod teaching staff would be pulled apart by parents come results day.
Do remember that teachers will be giving up their lunchtime (which is not directed time) to do this, for the benefit of your child.
it sounds like they are running the assertive mentoring programme (given every student has a mentor). The idea behind this is that they are given this adult to give them a kick up the bum/organise support/listen to them but in return to ensure they gain their target grades they need to attend sessions designed to work in a smaller and more focused session on particular needs in their own time.
These extra sessions are planned to ensure that particular areas of study which some students may be struggling with are covered in depth with a small group which means that the teacher can give far more attention and support to individuals needs than in a normal class setting when there are 30 students in the room.
As others have said; why would you not want this extra support for your DS? Prior to this sort of programme students were expected to self study themselves with often disastrous results and teacher are giving up their own time to ensure that all students understand all the concepts needed to gain their GCSEs so why can't your DS also give his time for his future?
I was waiting for that response...
He is getting and exceeding his target grades.
It's not that I do NOT want him to have the extra sessions if he needs them.
There was no mention of them at the parents evening and no discussion about why they think he needs to the point they are compulsory. For all three sciences these extra classes have thirty plus students, some have been turned away because there is not enough room, and they are covering the current curriculum topics.
He has raised his grades already by being motivated and deciding on what he wants to do at university. It's going to be very competitive to do what he wants to do (3D animation) and understands that every point counts. He knows what he needs to do and he is mainly happy to attend these sessions. He already spends time in the art room whenever I can pick him up late to keep perfecting his portfolio and projects of his own choice. This doesn't seem to be noticed.
He was not deliberately avoiding the extra lunchtime sessions, he believed the mentor was making out the timetable for the new half term and there was only a week to go before the half term break. It was an error in judgement, a misunderstanding. He has gone to ALL previous extra lunch time sessions.
The last (and only) time he got a detention was for missing an after school extra session was because the school sent the letter to the wrong address, followed by the detention letter, which resulted in him being internally excluded.
The point is there should be some amount of choice to take up the extra sessions as they are out of the school hours and a compromise when it doesn't go to plan. A chance for the parent to be involved and discuss it...maybe? Not to be just dictated to by some faceless mentor who then hands out a detention due to a genuine error.
Travel issues should be understood. I would say that 60% of the students at this school travel by designated school buses. There is very little or no public transport. He hasn't broken any behaviour rules, been rude or done anything detrimental to anyone else. He hasn't not handed home work in, met deadlines etc. Detention is and should be regarded as a punishment. If he cannot attend then they will internally exclude him, take out of lessons , as a punishment... kinda defeating the object really.
The school has a reputation for being light on pastoral care and concentrating on exam results. Yes, the teachers are giving up their time, which is very much appreciated, but I suspect in such a target driven environment they have little choice either. High turn over of teaching staff. Work life balance?
As family we are very serious about education, three already at university, (one achieved a BSc first and landed a job before finishing uni, one on target this year for masters first in Physics and a job with Rolls Royce nuclear division in September) and two at this school already thinking towards further education. I not crowing here, I'm just trying to point out that we are not sitting on our laurels expecting others to do all the work and then carry the can when it goes wrong. I just really can't see why they have to be so dictatorial.
If it is assertive mentoring then you/your DS would also have agreed to sign up for this
The deal with year 11 is if they are told they need to attend an extra session it is because the teacher has identified an area of weakness/need of support and this extra session is needed (we don't give up our own time for the fun of it). Our students are given 3 warnings resulting in no prom - why should staff put themselves out for them if they are not willing to do the same?
I work at a school with designated school buses and our students travel from a wide area to attend; students are more than old enough to get them selves home/arrange a lift etc - they are 15/16 not 6 and in a few months time will have to become independent when in 6th form/college.
Cricketballs, you seem to think I'm having a go at the teachers for providing these sessions and suggesting my son doesn't want to attend. Please re-read.
I haven't agreed to or signed up to any mentoring. Didn't know anything about it until the letters arrived.
I think you missed the point where I mentioned, if there were weaknesses or need for support then why wasn't I informed at the parents evening four weeks ago or even a letter to explain.
Since when are A and B grades been a sign of weakness and in need of support?
These are not one to one or small group sessions but thirty plus and appear to be compulsory or you get a detention. Not mixed class sessions but whole class sessions.
In 6th form they still have to use the school bus because there is no alternative form of transport in the area. And a mile walk at the end of the bus ride.
I am not berating the teachers for doing this nor am I ungrateful and at no point have said as much... just the method of going about it, lack of information and consideration for not always being able to commit to this. Neither I nor my son seem to have a choice or a voice.
Goodness, OP you are getting a hard time here. Your concerns are clearly expressed and reasonable, IMO.
How is he supposed to get home if there is no transport?
Losing all lunchtimes, staying late three times a week with no means of getting home, having to give up a sport, and being given detentions for a misunderstanding - this is serious stuff. And the school has not explained why it is needed.
Will after school lessons in a group of 30 children who have not had a lunch break be so helpful? Why not have them once a week in a group of ten?
I am quite hard line usually I think, but this sounds too much.
DS told me tonight that if you are struggling you are withdrawn from PE and PSHE for extra sessions. I thought PE was compulsory? Or is that only when convenient?
Bring on the 'what would you rather have better exam grades or PE lessons...'
It's not a case of that it's the complete lack consistency and including the parents in these decisions. It's school NOT boot camp and not Korea.
I would write a strongly worded letter to the HT and the governors stating exactly what you have said here, that you appreciate the extra sessions and that your DS appreciates them, but they are just that extra.
No way should detentions, let alone internal exclusions be applied for missing extra sessions.
I'd be amazed in a rural area if several other children haven't already written to no transport get stuffed.
OP, schools don't necessarily ask parents if their child wants mentors, at the school I work in mentors are compulsory (but all mentoring is done within school time) and they just talk to the child about their concerns/future plans etc. So you wouldn't necessarily have had to 'sign up' for it.
Also, you might not have heard about any problems/weaknesses at parents evening because, as you say, A and B grades are not too worrying. BUT, if the school believe that your son is capable of A* grades, the extra sessions could be for this. Lots of schools do A* extra classes because the A* material can't always be covered in lesson time.
Not saying this is the case, but maybe a possibility?
It is a faff though if you live far away so I understand the annoyance.
I can see the point if they are sessions aimed at getting A*, but the school has at the very least committed a huge communication fail. I mean, how is it to send out a letter saying' Dear kirlia, we have identified your DS as a student capable of achieving the very top grades and in order to achieve this, we have put him into extra sessions. The sessions will be x, y and z and once the student has agreed, these sessions will be compulsory, with a,b and c in place by way of sanctions for non-attendance. Yrs sincerely, A. Mentor.'
I mean, not rocket science, is it? I'd want some answers at the very least, not a load of stonewalling, and I would not be imporessed.
Thank you pointythings, you seem to be on my wavelength.
GoingBackToSchool... Yes, I can appreciate that but would be nice to told and agreed that we can get him home.
Thank you all who have responded and the range of points made. It has given me ideas on how to handle this.
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