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How would you question a teacher's methods/complain?

(17 Posts)
Lottie4 Mon 17-Nov-14 09:34:54

All term my DD has been saying she thinks her maths teacher is "rubbish". She doesn't feel he explains things well. However, they have been have been doing algebra (sorry not sure of exact spelling) part of the term, which I suspect isn't easy to pick up. He has been saying things like "you should have been taught x in Year 8, so you'll have to find out how to do it yourselves", and put something on the board last week saying "you are the top set, you can work it out yourselves" - my DD said she hadn't got a clue what to do and sat there all lesson messing about with numbers (although she's confident with friends, she is very quiet with teachers and respectful so in all fairness he wouldn't know at the moment she doesn't speak up to ask things). She was assessed as level 6.75 at the end of last term. This term he's assessed her as level 6 (which must be down the fact she's not understanding what's being taught and expected). She reckons she's about middle in the top set.

DD says she knows of two sets of parents who are going to complain, and I know of another couple who are starting to get negative feedback. I hate the thought of complaining and it may well be the above should be expected in Year 9, but feel I need to say something. How would you go about it?

Haggisfish Mon 17-Nov-14 09:38:52

I would get in touch with the teacher first and tell him your daughter is having the problems you said here. Ask him what solutions he can offer. I would offer initial after school catch up sessions for four weeks and then a regular time students could come and see me with any further problems. The trouble is, maths teachers are a rare breed and good ones are rarer still. There are some maths teachers whose teaching is so poor they would be sacked if they were science-there are millions of science teachers though!! This is obviously not true of all maths teachers, obviously.

PastSellByDate Mon 17-Nov-14 10:54:39


I'm not saying the teacher's approach is right (I want to stress that) - but presuming he's not going to change swiftly - perhaps a solution is to encourage your DD to really pay attention to the terminology:

'Today we're solving balanced equations'

from there - you can type into a search engine:

how do you solve balanced equations?

which lead me to: - with a list of different types of equations and you can read through worked examples.

By the way BBC Bitesize KS3 is really useful just generally - for finding out more about whatever topic you're working on at school - and it's free.

Another useful resource (also free) for maths is Khan Academy: - I just typed in Khan academy solving equations on my search engine and got

Khan academy has videos which show you step by step how to do the calculation - and you can rewind/ revue instructions if you're a little confused.

There's another website: which has instructional videos for GCSE LEVEL (Higher/ Foundation): - so you can look through the list and see solving equation videos under ALGEBRA:

there's tons more out there - and you can always sign up to Times Educational Supplement as a 'volunteer' and can then access their teaching resources as well.

If your school belongs to an on-line maths tutorial (e.g. My Maths/ Mathletics/ etc...) - you can also go into these resources and review lessons - to refresh your memory/ fill in gaps.

Yes, it's crazy that the teacher doesn't ensure everyone understands what is going on - but it's also the real world. It isn't ideal that the teacher is assuming everybody knows how do solve equations or whatever (fill in the blank) solidly - but on the other hand they're probably under pressure to get through a lot of material and may not feel they have the luxury to review things that should have been mastered in previous years.

Again - I stress this isn't ideal teaching method and I don't condone this in any way - but logistically I can absolutely see how this happens - especially if leadership in a subject (in this case maths) isn't firmly establishing what must be mastered in a given school year.


RosieProbert Mon 17-Nov-14 11:01:03

I'd ask to speak to the head of dept first and explain what you've written here, rather than calling to complain iyswim. There might be existing issues that you're daughter is unaware of.
Good luck - it's miserable having a teacher that doesn't meet the needs of the pupils.

TalkinPeace Mon 17-Nov-14 13:38:24

Do not be afraid of complaining.
But be willing to accept that the SLT might support the teacher.

In one case I chatted to various other parents and through the pastoral tutors, complaints were submitted by lots of parents - the teacher was gone by the end of the term.

In another case the SLT supported the teacher and turned them - and their classes - around.

Lottie4 Mon 17-Nov-14 14:36:36

Thank you for your replies. A few different ways to proceed, so I will have a think and also tell DD what I plan to do. It's mentoring evening this week, so need to decide whether to contact teacher direct or take it higher. Either way, I think I'll mention it to form tutor, as DD says two other sets of parents are actually going to complain to her about this teacher - that way if they do, hopefully she will pass comments on.

PastSellByDate, thanks the links. If DD is struggling again this week, I will look at some of them with her - if she'll let me.

I know all subjects are different, but she's in a few top sets and feels the other teachers are getting across to her what they want her to know, and this is the first time she's been concerned over maths.

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 17-Nov-14 14:38:44

I don't understand what the point of him is if she is having to teach herself?

woodlands01 Mon 17-Nov-14 15:55:43

Maths teachers are a rare breed as a previous poster commented. Rather than understanding 'what the point of him is' maybe you should consider the alternative which could be he leaves (due to parental pressure/SLT pressure) and the student is left with no Maths teacher and a cover supervisor (who 95% of students think equates to no work required) until after Easter.
I am not suggesting don't bring this up. I think you definitely need to. I'd forget the form tutor - all they can do is pass it on. Contact the teacher in the first instance and if they are difficult or defensive then Head of Dept. Be prepared for this to be pushed back to you but at least you can ask for a suggestion for a revision guide or recommended websites so you can support at home. The internet is a wonderful thing but there are some shocking mathematical methods described through u-tube!

ChillySundays Mon 17-Nov-14 20:14:30

Had this problem with DD. All started with a change of teacher her grades gradually got worse and worse. Ended up paying for a tutor.

itsaknockout Wed 19-Nov-14 13:55:03

A top set maths at level 6 in Y9 is very poor.have you got any GCSE study/revision books that you can buy in WH Smiths?

GnomeDePlume Wed 19-Nov-14 20:12:39

We had a problem with a maths teacher throughout. I raised it with form tutor who (that evening) raised it with Head of Year & Head of Department. They then put things in place with the teacher.

The teacher wasnt happy but her happiness wasnt my problem. She got her act in order with respect to my DD which was what I wanted.

Mind in the end she went postal and had to be escorted from the premises but that is another story!

stn24 Fri 21-Nov-14 21:04:36

I heard a lot of those complains before. A lot of the time it is true. A lot of the time the kids don't realise how lucky they are to be taught by the special kind of Maths teachers. The ones who don't answer questions but carry on asking more questions.

I think you need to look at it carefully, talking to the Head of Department first, raising concerns but do not be negative or aggressive. Like woodlands01 suggested, you don't want her to end up with a supply teacher or cover supervisor. I am lucky enough to have a department consist mostly of actual mathematicians but it is due to pure luck not by choice.

TheLeftovermonster Sun 23-Nov-14 07:57:44

Instead of complaining, why don't you help her catch up? It is true that some teachers are better than others but I wouldn't want to encourage the 'I didn't do well 'cause the teacher is rubbish'-type mentality.

DeWee Sun 23-Nov-14 15:27:31

I would go and discuss it with the top set.

He may be talling them the basics then wanting them to work things out from there, which should give them a better understanding in the end. If you spoonfeed the students who can work it out for themselves, they can end up expecting to be told everything and just plug it in rather than trying to understand it. When they do that, they can struggle when they need to take the concept on to a higher level, or are foxed by a question that's worded differently from the norm.
He may be saying more than you think about how to work it out as well.

But I would echo the person that said level 6 for top set in year 9 is low. Dd1's at a standard comprehensive in year 9, and the top set finished year 8 on level 8s. I would query that as well.

DeWee Sun 23-Nov-14 15:28:58

Top set teacher not the top set. Though they'd probably enjoy that too. grin

ChillySundays Sun 23-Nov-14 21:45:47

TheLeftovermonster - It's alright saying help her to catch up but this for a lot of parents will mean spending money (which not everyone can afford) on a tutor. in my case my DD needed 2 hours a week. I was lucky that I was only paying £10/hr (normal price is double that) and that was hard enough to find.

ChillySundays Sun 23-Nov-14 21:52:47

I know that it is can be easy to for pupils to blame the teachers but sometimes the pupils are right.

My DD hated her english teacher with a passion but always said she was an excellent teacher and for that reason counted herself lucky to be in her class.

The maths teacher was a really nice chap but her words 'what a crap teacher'

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