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Right, parents and teachers- this way please. Parent's evening.

(104 Posts)
Hakluyt Tue 21-Oct-14 09:12:24

What are the killer questions? What have you found has got the information you want from your 5 minute slot.

Teachers- what questions make your hearts sink? Be honest- the chances of any of your parents being in here is vanishingly small! grin

I was thinking along the lines of "In your opinion, is he working to the limit of his ability?" <yes, ds, this means you.....>

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 21-Oct-14 10:29:15

I tend to ask, what could s/he be doing to improve?

BrendaBlackhead Tue 21-Oct-14 11:24:14

watching with interest.

At dd's school the pupil accompanies the parents. I'm not sure whether this is a good idea or a bad one, as when ds was at the school sometimes clearly there was more to be said that kind of hung in the air. Otoh, at least the teachers mostly knew who they were talking about! I'm quite sure that in my day 3/4 of the teachers had absolutely no clue which pupil it was that belonged to the parents sitting in front of them.

RabbitOfNegativeEuphoria Tue 21-Oct-14 12:17:28

I have never found these events to be useful. The thing I hate the most is when the teacher says hello then asks the student how they think they're doing. That's just lazy. The inevitable answer for kids of a certain type (which includes mine) is 'alright' possibly with an 'I suppose' tacked on. How does that help anyone? But it probably wastes up to a minute of your 5 minutes.

PiqueABoo Tue 21-Oct-14 13:10:24

"I imagine you've heard rumours that I'm an Education Psychologist but I'm afraid that's just one of DD's embarrassing little jokes and in truth I'm just a perfectly normal HMI so please treat me just like any other parent. Now, I expect you're acquainted with the key changes to the September 2014 inspection handbook so I was wondering...?"

PastSellByDate Tue 21-Oct-14 13:57:21


We asked about no homework in maths (I'd been logging it in the planner - which I have to sign for the past 4 weeks). We explained that DD1 had tried to ask in class - but was interrupted and can't ask after class because of scheduling she always has to race across the school for her classes after maths.

This lead to us getting the teacher's e-mail address and encouragement to contact her. We were told that he was sure it was just a misunderstanding.

We spent a lot of time drafting the e-mail. Slept on it. Revised further and sent it. Basically - said DD1 loved maths class & was enjoying it but was jealous that the way it's organised (worksheets are given in class and what you haven't finished is homework) means she has no homework (because she finishes in class). We stressed we weren't asking for special homework or additional work from the teacher - but would like a password to the school's maths tutorial and permission for DD1 to do more on that under her own steam.

Silence for a few days and then we had a wonderful e-mail back. Very positive & supportive. Main request - getting a password to the school's on-line maths programme was resolved in our favour & DD1 has permission to go ahead and work on L6 materials & play games to her hearts content.

We also got some suggestions for website games & DD1 found out that her application to help in the maths clinic after school was accepted.

She's over the moon and we're relieved. Especially pleased to have received such a nice e-mail and so positive.

So - for us - it was a useful 5 minutes.


titchy Tue 21-Oct-14 14:13:55

grin piqueaboo!

Runningtokeepstill Tue 21-Oct-14 14:15:22

I think PastSellByDate has the right idea. My 3 ds's all ended up at different secondary schools and at each school I've seen the parents' evenings as a way to further the partnership with the school.

So, if there's an ongoing problem you can ask about it, and if there is something specific you need to know you can ask about that. If there is a significant issue I cannot imagine that most teachers would not tackle it because the child was there. But if there was a reason why this was not seen as appropriate, then I would expect the teacher to arrange an appointment at another time with just the parent(s). Or, if you want to talk without them present, you could decide not to take dc with you.

Mostly, when we've been to parents' evenings there's not a lot been said as we already knew, from regular written progress reports, what level our ds's were working at. So it's been a confirmation that things were going well, or that a particular area of the subject requires more work. Where more complex discussions were needed, e.g. catching up on work missed due to an ongoing illness, this has been dealt with by email or by a meeting with a member of staff responsible for supporting children with health needs.

MillyMollyMama Tue 21-Oct-14 15:15:10

We once asked why, when DD had been marked at 98% in several pieces of work, the teacher had only graded her at a B? Apparently there was more to the marking scheme than marked work and DD had not engaged sufficiently in class discussion. DD was outraged when we told her because, as we suspected, it was untrue. This decision stopped DD getting an award for exceptional progress. It was also clearly unfair. There are no killer questions but the above was the nearest we got! It did establish that this teacher was a nasty piece of work though and DD never got less than an A in this subject all they way through to A level.

TeenAndTween Tue 21-Oct-14 16:32:13

DD1 is y11. This is how I do secondary parent's meetings.

1) I ask DD1 if there are any issues or problems. in the past she has raised not being able to follow the verbal instructions, feeling lost in essay writing etc
2) I think about any issues I have seen via homework and discuss with DD
3) write down the above. At most 3 points per subject.

At meeting
1) Let the teacher do their bit briefly, if they ask DD prompt her to raise issues she mentioned to me
2) Raise issues on my list

If a subject is going very well I generally don't bother seeing the teacher, but may send a message 'Mum is very happy so isn't planning to see you'

Takver Tue 21-Oct-14 16:53:25

I've only had one secondary parents' evening so far, but found it much more helpful/informative than primary. For us, there were two different strands, really.
Firstly the messages coming across all/most subjects, which were basically the same - they enabled us to go away and reinforce a couple of messages with dd (helped by the fact that she was there with us). With most teachers, we didn't really need to ask any questions, just listen to what they had to tell us.
Secondly, it was an opportunity to pick up on a specific issue with one subject, and tackle it with the teacher (after listening to what they had to say, of course).

Bunbaker Tue 21-Oct-14 17:04:13

DD goes to a large school and one of her teachers had photos of all the children he teaches so he knew who I was talking about.

So I suggest that if you don't have your child with you that you take a photo along. Other ideas have already been covered here.

Hakluyt Tue 21-Oct-14 18:22:54

Interesting. I always rather like the teacher asking my child how they think they at getting on- I find the way they respond illuminating about their relationship with the teacher- particularly in the early days of Secondary. And I like that they are expected to speak up and engage with the process.

cansu Tue 21-Oct-14 18:32:49

I find it a bit odd that you ask about 'killer questions'. Surely you want to have a dialogue and ask what she is doing well with, what she is struggling with, is she doing her homework, is she behaving well and showing a good attitude in class? It isn't or shouldn't be about trying to catch the teacher out. I remember vividly showing a parent their child's work and highlighting what I was pleased about and what they needed to improve and him saying so you are taking she isn't the best in the class though, why not? I tried to explain to him that it was about the progress she had made not about measuring her against others in the class but he simply couldn't grasp it. I felt really sorry for the girl.

Orangeanddemons Tue 21-Oct-14 18:50:29

The thing I hate the most is when the teacher says hello then asks the student how they think they're doing. That's just lazy

Why? I always do this when I'm confronted by parent and child at parents evening. This then will turn into a conversation about the student.

I prefer it when the student isn't there.

Nosy67 Tue 21-Oct-14 19:00:29

Most parents go with specific worries so if their children are doing great or the parents don't give a toss, then parents don't bother to go at all. What is the point of a killer question, especially when you don't know what you want to find out?

I am happy just to have a general chat.

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 21-Oct-14 19:10:20

I prefer going without my child. And I have never been illuminated by the "how do you think you're doing?" question - my dd2 will do the "alright s'pose" even to teachers she adores and in subjects she's doing brilliantly in! Had to take dd1 in sixth form, and she managed a longer answer, and the conversation was much more between her and the teacher, which just made me wonder why they didn't just have this conversation at school (I expect they frequently do), and not expect me to be there! grin

BellaBearisWideAwake Tue 21-Oct-14 19:16:46

I use the how do you think you are doing opener frequently, it sets the whole thing off as a dialogue from the start and is illuminating when the chattiest student in the class mumbles an answer! Bit embarrassed that's it's such a put off.

Marni23 Tue 21-Oct-14 19:41:35

I'm not a fan of DC being present either. At DD's school the pupils don't attend parent's evening till Y11. Not sure what DS's school do but don't think DC attend in Y7/8/9.

Wrt questions I think 'Where could DC improve?' leads to the most productive discussions. Ask for specific examples if the feedback isn't clear enough. The upside of them being present is that they hear first-hand what they need to do to achieve the next level/grade and can't try to wriggle out of it when you debrief them at home

AtiaoftheJulii Tue 21-Oct-14 20:26:23

Bella if it gets useful answers for you, then I guess it's fine to ask it.

Hakluyt Tue 21-Oct-14 21:25:53

One of the things I like about my dd's school was that I felt that it taught them how to speak up and answer questions like that without a "dunno" grunt. I was always impressed by the teacher/pupil dialogue.

ginnycreeper5 Tue 21-Oct-14 21:32:48

I wish there was more privacy at parents evenings.

At my son's school they usually have about 5 desks crammed into one classroom, with a teacher sat at each desk.
The parents are called to sit in front of the desk and the other parents, still waiting their turn, are sat on chairs about 3 feet behind eavesdropping as you do. Well it's human nature isn't it?
Hardly confidential.

I preferred the old way, where you all sat out in the corridor and each family would be called into the classroom separately and there would be a door to close.
It was a much better way of doing things.

ginnycreeper5 Tue 21-Oct-14 21:35:15

oops were

bigTillyMint Tue 21-Oct-14 21:43:03

Is he working to the limit of his capability? <guffaws>

"Is he sitting in his chair, keeping his gob shut and not arsing about?" would be more the question we have to ask.

Hakluyt Tue 21-Oct-14 22:11:22

"Is he sitting in his chair, keeping his gob shut and not arsing about?" would be more the question we have to ask."

Maybe qt that particular tiny moment in his life that is the limit of his capability? Capability is not just academic stuff,you know.

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