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Son flags things up going on at school - and then tells me not to say anything!

(21 Posts)
SparkyLark Wed 29-Oct-14 13:26:18

I had this very occasionally in primary school, and it was quite frustrating.

If - very rarey I might add - I went to the school about something my son had flagged up as a problem - he could be furious. As If I was being a "snitch" or something.

Today my Y7 son has just said, off-the-cuff, probably in an unguarded moment, there's loads of talking and shouting in class, especially one subject, he can't learn anything shock, his words. And I had been thinking things had been going so well.

Then he added: "but don't say anything"!

FWIW, I'm not about to charge up to the school, and will put it on slow-burn I suppose but there's a bit of grrr... about it too.

(I am tempted to put this in AIBU, but then somewhere along the line I'd be accused of being a crap parent.)

Any thoughts about what to do when son wants me to stay quiet? He has allowed me to bring up one or two issues, but generally its "be quiet".

Please feel free to be frank...

scurryfunge Wed 29-Oct-14 13:30:21

I think that when children tell you about a problem, they generally want you to help them.

motherinferior Wed 29-Oct-14 13:31:40

Bring it up at parents' evening.

Floggingmolly Wed 29-Oct-14 13:35:08

I'd email his form tutor. Agree with scurry, he needs you to do something.

Bakeoffcakes Wed 29-Oct-14 13:41:04

I do think you have to be very careful about "doing something" when he has asked you not to. It may stop him telling you about things in the future.

I'd have another chat with him, look at his workbooks etc, see what actual work he is doing for that class, then if things are bad, try to reason with him about just sending an email but reassure him you will demand that his name will not be given to the teacher concerned.

Megaload Wed 29-Oct-14 13:43:45

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TheFallenMadonna Wed 29-Oct-14 13:46:32

Er..... Those things will not happen. Your DS will not be permanently excluded if you email the school about this. I would probably go with the head of department for that subject, or head of year.

Megaload Wed 29-Oct-14 13:54:14

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Olivo Wed 29-Oct-14 13:55:25

As a secondary teacher, I would much prefer it if parents would contact me directly about a possible problem in my classes. I find it patronising when they go to my head of dept without asking me to resolve the problem first. I agree about being careful in going behind your sons back, could you encourage him to either raise the issues with the teacher himself, or get him to see the value in you mentioning him feeling frustrated?

tiggytape Wed 29-Oct-14 14:24:30

Megaload's worst case scenario is far removed from any experience at most schools and rare enough to have been dragged through official proceedings. Most schools have complaints and concerns raised on a daily basis. If they excluded children for this reason, there'd be half empty schools in every region! Besides, most schools genuinely welcome parents querying things rather than worrying or seething over issues for months and then it becoming a much bigger deal.

Being frank (as asked) though, sometimes children say things for impact or perhaps just stretch the truth to make it more interesting. They don't want you to say anything about the terrible antics they've described in great detail because then you'll be told by the school that the version of events don't really tally. Obviously I am not saying dismiss bullying or serious worries but more things along the lines of "Jack was swinging off the light fittings all lesson and the teacher didn't even care. She never tells him off because Jack's mum is a governor and he is allowed to do this every lesson" which may need a bit more digging before you go and report this.

Sometimes though it is very true and possibly very serious in which case it is best to try to persuade DS to let you discuss it with the school. Maybe if you stress that you're not going to go in all guns blazing and just want to raise it so they know. If it is very serious you may have no choice to tell the school whether he agrees or not but if you can get him on side it is better as you don't want him to stop confiding in you.

NeedaDiscoNap Wed 29-Oct-14 14:34:08

OP, do you know the policy for contacting the school to discuss problems like this?

Olivo above says she would prefer to be contacted directly, but it depends on school policy. I am a secondary HoD (on mat leave just now in case you're wondering why I'm mumsnetting at this time of day smile) and at my school issues like this go to the HoD via the head of year. Teachers are not contacted directly, although this has been the case in one school I previously worked at.

I would also advise against your son talking to the teacher about it directly. In my experience, that doesn't usually go well. If things are as disrupted as you say, it's highly likely that the HoD knows already.

Finally, schools have ways of working that avoid pinpointing particular children. For example, there have been times when I've dealt with one or more parental concerns about behaviour in a class without mentioning the particular children to the member of staff. It may even be possible to have your son moved class - again, there are ways and means of doing this.

cunningartificer Wed 29-Oct-14 17:57:12

Of course if you are concerned, contact the school. They should be able to deal with a concern without going berserk (or they are not a good school). Please don't judge schools for the things that get into court, often there are issues in these cases that can't be brought to light for child protection reasons, allowing people to tell a fictional version of story to papers without fear of reprisal. For instance in a case such as the one reported you would not be able to talk about the danger the child concerned might represent to other children.

I can see why you're worried by the reveal and then conceal. However, there is another explanation for the 'don't tell' in my experience. Sometimes children (and adults) need to let off steam about something that was actually not typical. So for instance child says class was noisy and we never get anything done because that particular day didn't go well. If beloved parent seeks to intervene, child says 'no thanks' because child doesn't actually want to give chapter and verse, actually, because it wasn't quite as stated in moment of frustration, or not really that typical (or child was one of the people making a racket) and child doesn't want teacher persecuted when generally things are OK...

So I would wait a little, then ask 'and how are things going in History?' (or whatever) in a few days time. No pressure, just interested. If message is the same, then be concerned.

scarevola Wed 29-Oct-14 18:08:10

Take it as a compliment. He sees you as a confidante and a sounding board. This is good, and not to be risked by taking the steps he has explicitly asked you not to do.

Next time he talks, how about adding some open-ended questions about how
the issues could be tackled and throw in some ideas of your own (much as you would if DP needed to sound off about difficulties at work).

Hard as it is, stand back, unless it is a safety issue. A mention at parents' evening could be be beneficial though. Especially as it seems to be just the one teacher currently having big problems with classroom behaviour.

SparkyLark Wed 29-Oct-14 20:45:51

So helpful, lots of things articulating what I was sensing in my mind; plus a few pointers; thank you all.

pointyfangs Wed 29-Oct-14 22:45:20

In secondary you need to at least give your DC the choice of handling things themselves - direct them to talk to their form tutor first, then to take it further if need be. DD1 has a boy in her class who seems to delight in winding her up - she talks to me about him but doesn't want me to do anything because she is basically blanking him - won't respond to anything he says/does, totally ignores his presence. He still stresses her out, but so far this strategy is working better for her than responding in any way. She just needs to talk to me about it every now and then.

Ultimately, it's a judgement call. If you feel your DS is being bullied or is in danger, you have to be the parent and step in. Just be careful about making that judgement.

I'd have gone in if DD1's RE teacher last year had followed through on her threat to hit DD with a Gross Misconduct charge for (politely and in context of an ongoing discussion) questioning the existence of God - it turned out not to be necessary, but DD1 felt supported knowing that I'd go there if needed. (And thank goodness said RE teacher is now retired)

Thrholidaysarecoming Wed 29-Oct-14 22:49:29

My dd said this for two years. At the beginning of year nine she filmed her class on her phone.

Two girls singing, lads toy fighting and an exasperated teacher with no control whatso ever.

I changed schools that week, best thing I did.

maddy68 Wed 29-Oct-14 22:55:44

I'm senior leadership of a school. He will not get expelled because of a complaint.!
I would send in an email to your sons form tutor. State that he doesn't want you to raise it so they will handle it discreetly without him knowing you have raised it (maintaining his trust)
It is probably something the school know about already. It could be a new inexperienced teacher and as so will be having lots of support put in place. Or it pud be that the teacher has a different teaching style that your son doesn't particularly like. Not a lot will change in that instance as some students just don't like particular teachers and others love them

Coolas Thu 30-Oct-14 00:10:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pointyfangs Thu 30-Oct-14 16:13:20

They have a range of charges at the school, Coolas and GM - which stands for Gross Misconduct - is indeed one of them - it's in the DDs' planners. It's a term the school uses to describe conduct likely to lead to an immediate suspension so pretty serious and yes, on a par with the sort of thing that happens in the workplace. It's used for bullying, violent behaviour, swearing at teachers - that sort of thing. Politely asking the question in the context of a discussion about the Big Bang and the beginning of the Universe doesn't justify it, obviously - but the teacher in question was an evangelising Christian and did not like the fact that my DD was open about being an atheist.

Coolas Thu 30-Oct-14 18:14:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

pointyfangs Thu 30-Oct-14 19:45:24

It was a she, but yes - she was awful. Marks given reflected whether she liked the student - DD now has a different RE teacher and is predicted an A in GCSE. She now loves the subject.

DD2 also has a lovely RE teacher and is really enjoying RE and doing well. I suppose every school has the odd dodgy teacher now and again but this woman really gave me the rage. If she's really pushed the GM, I'd have been in there talking to the school.

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