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Is it stupid to bring a complaint like this?

(61 Posts)
var123 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:01:34

Its not even that i want to complain. I am just beginning to feel that something isn't right and I want reassurance that my son is not being overlooked.

DS is high achieving in maths. He's at an outstanding secondary and everything went very well last year. However, this year (as far as I can tell):-
1. He's only being taught level 7 work this year in class despite getting level 7a last year.
2. I asked the teacher if he would sit a level 8 exam. She didn't reply for a week and then 10 mins before she wrote back to say yes, she emailed DS and some others with an invitation to do 2 hours of level 8 work with her out of class hours.
3. The teacher is taking up to a week to reply to any email I send her. All other teachers reply same day usually and within 48 hours at most.
4. DS won an award last year so i know he's one of the most able mathematicians in the school, yet I learned that he's been excluded from G&T opportunities. It can't be behaviour.
5. the teacher has never given him one of the daily class awards for good work or good behaviour, despite the fact that even she says he does all the work easily and his behaviour is never an issue.
6. The teacher refused to give me a parent's evening appointment. then she took a week (and a reminder email) to send me a one line email which only said "keeping up with work in class well".

Floggingmolly Tue 03-Feb-15 11:04:44

How can he sit a "level 8" exam? Surely you're awarded whatever grade you've achieved? Is he is the top set?

honeysucklejasmine Tue 03-Feb-15 11:12:20

I would try raising it with the head of maths or failing that, head of year. Provision for gifted students should be a department wide thing, so the head of department is best placed to deal with queries.

I assume ds is in year 9? It might be worth asking if he will later have the chance to do FSMQ, a maths qualification between GCSE and a level. Or, even further ahead, do they offer Further Maths a level? The point is... Are they equipt to handle G&T maths?

var123 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:13:39

there is a level 5-7 paper and a level 6-8 paper. Last year he did the 5-7. This year it will be the 6-8. Sorry I wasn't more clear.

var123 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:14:07

No he is in year 8.

MillyMollyMama Tue 03-Feb-15 11:14:52

I think it is difficult to know what level work he is being set if the teacher is not really communicating with you. I would ask to see the Head of Maths. A good school will forensically have monitored his progress and will be setting work according to his ability. However,if he is doing the work easily, this suggests he is not being stretched. I would not term this a complaint: I would see it as a fact finding meeting. Teachers should plan according to previous, measured, attainment, so you can ask what his target is for this year and where he is on reaching it. Good progress would be 8b. If he is having exceptional teaching, he might get to 8a but you may find he has been over assessed at 7a and is doing that level of work to consolidate. However, you can ask but I would bypass the teacher who seems not to want to talk to you about it. Be pleasant but firm when you ask for an appointment with the Head of Maths. Also, does your son have feedback and targets written in his work books and does he know what his targets are? If not, this is a problem and it should be raised with the Head of Maths.

noblegiraffe Tue 03-Feb-15 11:16:50

3. The teacher is taking up to a week to reply to any email I send her. All other teachers reply same day usually and within 48 hours at most.

Why in earth are you sending so many emails to teachers that you know how long each individually takes to reply?? Teachers are completely overwhelmed with work at the moment post-mocks and exam classes will be taking priority.

The teacher is giving up her time unpaid out of school hours to teach your DS some level 8 work. This is good.

Perhaps he is being excluded from G&T opportunities because he isn't on the G&T list. The G&T list and opportunities has nothing to do with subject teachers at my school, and an award wouldn't put him on the list, I think it's totally decided by CATs scores in my school. If you want to query G&T stuff, you need to contact the school G&T coordinator.

You sound a bit over involved worrying about daily class awards in secondary.

var123 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:17:33

His target is for year 8 is 8c. However, it was set at the start of year 7, and he exceeded the target for year 7.

I believe DS had mastered level 7. I have a degree in maths myself and I was checking that he was prepared for the exam last year. I could see that he could do it all easily.

capsium Tue 03-Feb-15 11:23:47

So your son is going to do the level 8 exam? You have a result there.

The teacher has offered lessons out of hours covering the subject matter. Will he go to these?

Did you want your DS to be taught the subject matter in school? I can understand that. However are there enough pupils of his aptitude to make up a whole class?

var123 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:24:50

Why in earth are you sending so many emails to teachers that you know how long each individually takes to reply??

I'm not. I have had emails with only four other teachers over two years, all relevant things. I know the statistic from other parents. This teacher has given me some cause for concern. Moreover, she doesn't fully answer anything I ask her - brevity is perhaps understating the effort she puts into her reply. So, then I write back asking for more info. Then we have another lengthy delay.

Right now, i am still waiting to get the three questions I wanted for parents nights a fortnight ago to be answered. All of them relevant. All of them my duty as a parent to find out the answers to.

var123 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:26:15

DS's CAT score put him in the top 1% in the school, I was informed by the school. So, if attainment doesn't put him in g&T, then surely CAT scores would?

Floggingmolly Tue 03-Feb-15 11:27:27

You have three unanswered questions from parents night?
What on earth can they be; that it's your duty as a parent to have them answered asap?? You sound very intense.

var123 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:29:41


They are about his SEN. Whether he is doing level 8 work in class or not? and one other related question.

capsium Tue 03-Feb-15 11:30:52

What would you like the school to do OP?

They have said they will provide lessons out of school hours. Do you think he should be taught the subject matter within school hours? If this is the case you need to discuss this with the head of department and maybe the head teacher.

capsium Tue 03-Feb-15 11:32:32

....because it probably lies outside an individual teacher's control and will involve maths setting, class sizes etc.

noblegiraffe Tue 03-Feb-15 11:35:26

Ask her to ring you. Or arrange a meeting with her. Email clearly isn't working as a method of communication.

var123 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:37:28

I'd like to know if DS has spent all year doing revision of stuff he already knows and whether that's what he will continue to receive.

I appreciate the out of hours help but I suspect it was only offered because I asked whether he would do the 6-8 paper or not. The timing is a bit suspect otherwise. My concern there is that DS is not on the radar at all unless I email, and I don't want to start sitting on the teacher's shoulder. Also its only 2 hours in a whole year???

What i would like, is for Ds to be recognised once in a while in class if he deserves it. If he doesn't then what does he need to do? He may be able and well behaved but he doesn't have very high self-esteem.

I would also like for DS to be offered the G&T opportunities that are available.

I suppose what i want is for DS to be on the radar somewhere.

capsium Tue 03-Feb-15 11:47:32

Surely the reward for doing well is doing well though? In that it is intrinsic. I have read some research that would suggest manufactured rewards can actually devalue a subject, in terms of the pleasure people take in learning itself.

You can award at home, if you wish, when you learn of his progress. If his self esteem is of real concern and you think it might hinder his progress have you considered making an appointment with the SEN department?

It does sound like making an appointment, through the school office, with the staff you would most like to discuss your son's progress with, would be the logical next step.

var123 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:48:17

My original question is would it be stupid to raise this concern. Obviously its not a complaint, so I must make sure that i don't make it sound like one.

Ds probably is working at the top of the class. I doubt he's alone up there but there probably aren't enough others to make up a whole class.

He isn't being given access to the G&T stuff and I don't know why. Is this like a gift though and its poor etiquette to ask why your child hasn't been included?

Mainly I want to work with the school in getting DS educated, not against. I don't want to get people's backs up as that could be counter-productive.

So, is it stupid to say anything at all? Even if the teacher doesn't want to do anything for the children at Ds's level, is it better overall to just drop it and hope he doesn't get her again?

capsium Tue 03-Feb-15 11:52:43

I don't think your concern is stupid at all OP. It is a common concern. Added to this any concerns you might have had have probably escalated through lack of communication, though not for the want of trying on your part.

I would just make an appointment through the school office, since you were not able to get an appointment at parent's evening, it is very understandable you want one. Maybe start with the maths teacher but then if your concerns are not allayed make appointments with head of department, SEN department and / or head teacher.

var123 Tue 03-Feb-15 11:53:02

His self-esteem issues comes from his SEN. he is frustrated with himself for the things he can't do and he is critical of himself. He has a tendency to be very down on himself. He puts very little weight on his achievements and focuses on the things he struggles to do adequately.

The SEN dept know about it already. In the end, the solution must come from DS himself. However, he's still young and he still glows when he receives praise, just as he quietly cries when he is criticised. If he deserves to be named as the star pupil that day, and it would do him the world of good, then why not give it to him ever?

noblegiraffe Tue 03-Feb-15 11:53:02

If I got a parent emailing now whether a y8 would be sitting a level 6-8 exam in the summer, the answer would be 'fuck knows'.

The maths curriculum is being overhauled, the new GCSE is changing everything. Levels have been scrapped. SATs have been abandoned. We are desperately trying to figure out what to do with our Y9s at the end of the year, who have started the GCSE course, because Ofqual are currently investigating the sample assessment materials the exam boards have provided and won't report back till April.

So Y8 is not exactly a priority.

If you are concerned that your DS is not being challenged in lessons, then a better course of action than banging on about level 8 material (unless it is being taught with the rest of his class, because if he is taught it outside of his set then you'll only have the same problem again next year as they catch up) is to ask for enrichment material to be provided. The UKMT provide monthly mentoring material for the junior maths challenge and perhaps your DS could work through this if he finishes stuff quickly in lessons. Or you could look it up yourself.

capsium Tue 03-Feb-15 11:55:18

Not making an appointment is also valid, if you think your DS will receive sufficient teaching with the extra lessons and any support you can offer.

I think you just have to weigh up which option is most preferable to you.

capsium Tue 03-Feb-15 12:03:46

Regarding his self esteem issues I think it might help if at home you always highlight the things he has done well and stress that the struggling is only part of the process of learning. If there are particular struggles, can you help him resolve them, come up with solutions?

PastSellByDate Tue 03-Feb-15 12:05:34


Look I get that you're concerned but as others have posted what do you hope to achieve. I think it is fairly reasonable to presume that a single individual is highly unlikely to get a school to change it's maths curriculum for their child (gifted or otherwise).

I understand the frustration - believe me - but I think it sometimes is just easier on all concerned to just plow ahead regardless of what is going on at school. Use school to check/ confirm/ review - but at least for this year - don't see it as a place where rapid progression is going to happen. Also be aware that as you move up levels progress becomes slower - it's much more complicated.

So my advice is try doing more at home - your DS can dip in here and there progressing his own knowledge - some solutions include:

First, and most obvious, is Khan academy - entirely free - and you're child can learn more about maths and progress away at his own speed. Info here: - just select maths under subjects and have a look high school maths and beyond (Years 9 - 12 in US = Years 10 - 13 UK).

Have a look at the maths puzzles on NRICH maths: - start with lower secondary but if too easy move up to upper secondary. You can post your answers and your school and if it is correct you will be published on-line.

Have a look at Corbett Maths 5 a day: - this is GCSE practice - if your son is level 7/8 - have a look at foundation and higher problems. Answers are provided. A few can appear out (maybe because of rounding pi, but answers show workings usually and can really help).

If your school subscribes to My Maths - work through lessons at Level 7 (for practice and then try for Level 8). Try setting records in games.


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