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Concerns about one of DS1's teachers. I usually don't interfere but..

(24 Posts)
EWLT Wed 04-Nov-15 17:33:44

He's in year 10 so just getting into his GCSE courses. Up to now I've tried to support the school but leave them to it. Even when he was in infants, I rarely even spoke to the teacher outside of parents' evening, trusting them to know their job and get on with it. In hindsight, there were a couple of things I probably should have got involved with. This is just for context, as I am feeling the need to interfere now regarding DS1's computer science teacher.

He's not a particularly academic child and TBH has had a lot of could try harder type reports in secondary. However, there have been definite signs of maturity over the last 6 months and he is genuinely interested in learning and doing his best for GCSE. He tells me most of his teachers this year are strict (which he doesn't necessarily see as good!) but interesting good teachers and he feels he's learning well from them.

However, he's really quite upset about his CS teacher. He says a lesson generally goes as follows:

-She will give a brief outline of what's required in the lesson and leave them to it
-If they ask for clarification, she tells them she's already explained, so they'll have to look it us, which mean Google
-There is one boy in the class who is very skilled so the whole class are gathered round his desk for help throughout the lesson

DS1 feels she's unable to help them because she doesn't understand the subject and that the level of work they're doing is below that in the other class (no setting). Some lessons they also have a student teacher (or TA, not entirely clear) who is apparently much more willing and able to help.

He tells me that most people in her class last year scored less than D and that the other class got mostly As, but that's obv just hearsay that I have no way of verifying

I know they're year10 and certain degree of independent learning is probably expected but is this right?

If not, how do I go about approaching the school and what can/should I expect them to do about it?

cricketballs Wed 04-Nov-15 18:11:41

CS is a subject that until very recently was not studied at GCSE, therefore there are limited teachers who have the sufficient knowledge/training to teach. Therefore ICT teachers (who are experienced and trained) have had to suddenly switch subjects due to the recent changes.

It sounds like your DS's teacher is an ICT teacher that has been thrown into the frying pan without any training or support from the school. I would firstly advice asking to speak to HoD and express your concerns. In the mean time is an excellent site for your DS to use to further his understanding.

This is an issue in the vast majority of schools given this swift change without forethought for experienced teachers I am a Business and ICT teacher who, fortunately, has qualifications and working experience in electronic engineering which includes assembly level programming

EWLT Wed 04-Nov-15 18:36:06

Thank you that makes sense, although the school didn't need to offer it if they couldn't deliver? Sounds like there may be other issues with this teacher as ds had her very briefly (for ict) in year8 before she went on extended sick leave, so possibly she is in need of support.

If I speak to HoD, what, realistically can I expect them to do?

yeOldeTrout Wed 04-Nov-15 19:50:16

There's a teacher a lot like this at DC school. A lot of parents mutter among themselves about her. Ours is quite competent at IT, just can't be arsed to hand hold or actually teach !!!

Steep learning curve but DD actually got the hang of it and is even planning computing GCSE with this teacher, now.

Because, even people I know working with quite sophisticated software (you get certificates in it) often end up googling to find out how to do something very specific, that is what everyone does now in place of online manuals (I'm old enough we had stacks of hard bound manuals in my day). It's a harsh crash course in modern RTFM.

EWLT Wed 04-Nov-15 20:51:13

Thank you

I'm really not sure what to do. If things can improve then it would be worthwhile getting involved, but if realistically, DS has to make the most of it for the next 2 years and will be with the teacher we've complained about, perhaps best not to rock the boat?

zipzap Wed 04-Nov-15 23:18:25

Can you request that he gets moved into the other class with the other teacher because 'you think that his/her teaching style will suit ds significantly better and because he's going to have a fighting chance of getting a decent grade?

IguanaTail Wed 04-Nov-15 23:27:39

Raise it with the head of department.

cricketballs Thu 05-Nov-15 06:23:10

Op; please don't even think about the teacher having extended sick leave 2 years ago - this has no bearing on the current issue

lifesalongsong Thu 05-Nov-15 06:31:38

Speaking from my own experience I'd definitely raise it with the head of department.

One of my children had a language teacher who was a native speaker but just wasn't able to teach her own language and a year was wasted before the school did anything about it.

I still regret not voicing my concerns.

lifesalongsong Thu 05-Nov-15 06:34:58

Cricketballs - how can you know whether the sick leave has any bearing on the OP's problem.

It might not but depending on what it was it could very well do, anyone with a health issue or even concern about one might not perform their job to their best ability whatever the job is. I think it's valid to be aware that might be relevant.

Scoobydoo8 Thu 05-Nov-15 06:59:48

Can you get some out of class tuition for DS??

They can't all crowd round one childs desk to learn! there wouldn't be room!

By the time anything improves it will prob be too late for your DS unless they agree to move him to a different teacher which I would think is unusual.

Bacontastic Thu 05-Nov-15 07:52:04


Just so you know...

Computer science is by no means a new GCSE subject. It was introduced as part of very the first (ever!) range of GCSE subjects in 1986 for first exam 1988...I know this to be fact because I took it myself wink. It's obviously evolved as the subject matter has over the past 30-odd years.

Even though it was genuinely new as a subject area way back then, my teacher (who was actually a maths teacher) was kind, enthusiastic, polite but firm. Basically, she cared about delivering the syllabus (accessible to all teachers!) in a manner that facilitated student success and had personal professionally high standards as a teacher even though it was tough for her. We all did great; her motto was "failure is not an option" grin

I would definitely pass on your child's feedback , ask the school to tell you if it is true or not and exactly what it going on. If it's true, then this teacher need to change, be changed or your son needs a new one.

Brioche201 Thu 05-Nov-15 09:21:24

I don't think you should be going above the teacher s head to begin with.just dropnher an email saying your D's is struggling with understanding what is really nice,play to her ego. You catch more bees with honey and all that

AChickenCalledKorma Thu 05-Nov-15 09:29:04

Bacontastic - Computer Science was, indeed around in the 1980s. But in the intervening years, things shifted towards courses in ICT that didn't have the same level of rigour in actual programming etc. Hence ICT teachers that have had a massive learning curve to deliver a more technical course:


TeddTess Thu 05-Nov-15 19:45:09

go to head of year, tell her what he said and ask her to look in.

Ricardian Thu 05-Nov-15 19:59:53

Computer science is by no means a new GCSE subject. It was introduced as part of very the first (ever!) range of GCSE subjects in 1986 for first exam 1988

Actually, you are underestimating how not-new it is. I took O Level Computer Studies in 1980, which included some interesting programming tasks.

I recently circulated in my RG computer science department the CSE Computer Studies paper from 1982, a copy of which fell into my hands. The general conclusion was that strong A Level students or first year undergraduates would be fine. O tempora, o mores.

Ricardian Thu 05-Nov-15 20:02:26

things shifted towards courses in ICT that didn't have the same level of rigour

GCSE ICT has been killed, anyway; it's not going forward into the new qualifications. "The last examinations for GCSE, AS and A-level IT will be in summer 2018". Source: email from AQA this week.

Disinclined11 Thu 05-Nov-15 21:49:47

EWLT just in case this link may be helpful whilst sorting things out at school

cricketballs Thu 05-Nov-15 22:25:20

lifesalongsong how can you know whether the sick leave has any bearing on the OP's problem. It might not but depending on what it was it could very well do, anyone with a health issue or even concern about one might not perform their job to their best ability whatever the job is. I think it's valid to be aware that might be relevant.

How do you know the health issue affects the teachers ability 2 years later? The presumption that the issue was stress/mental health problem is not acceptable - a long term illness 2 years previously has no bearing on the ability of the teacher.

without wanting to derail the thread Ricardian this information was published yesterday on page 11 of a document dealing with consultation on GCSE PE, A Level Geology and Politics link here; for some reason this government think that because they can post on facebook, they know ICT - we have year 7 students who don't know how to open/save documents because they have spent their time in primary editing videos on an Ipad rather than actually learning IT skills don't get me started on spreadsheets/databases etc

sorry op; but this is a very sore point atm!

lifesalongsong Fri 06-Nov-15 16:20:46

I never mentioned a stress/mental health problem - are you confusing me with another poster?

You categorically said that the old health issue was nothing to do with the current problem, unless you are the teacher you can't possibly know.

Just as an example someone who had cancer treatment 2 years ago may just have found out that it had come back, in that situation no one would be on their best game, we don't know but it's valid to bear it in mind imo

cricketballs Fri 06-Nov-15 18:03:37

No previous health issue should be mentioned no matter what the reason was. I apologise life for automatically assuming that you were inferring mental illness, but an illness 2 years ago is not a concern for a current parent and should not be part of the discussion.

EWLT Fri 06-Nov-15 19:54:55

I only mentioned the health issue in sympathy with the teacher. She went on long term sick leave 2 years ago, she's only been back a few months. Imo, it's highly likely that the extended leave and/or the illness are affecting her at work, how could they not be? However, that's for the school to manage, it's absolutely not something I expect them to discuss with me

yankeecandle4 Sun 08-Nov-15 13:43:27

Definitely raise this issue with HoD.

My secondary modern had lots of teachers teaching subjects that they really weren't qualified to teach; but due to budget cuts there were a lot of redundancies and the school had to make do. There were some who genuinely tried to make the most of a crappy situation and other s who didn't give a toss. I really wish my parents made a fuss about it as I feel it impacted on my GCSE grades.

A few examples:

ICT teacher had to change to maths teaching. Her maths was not even good let alone at a lower set teaching level. She used to shake quite violently at times, probably due to stress.

Careers teachers was given a music teaching role (at GCSE and A Level level) He would appear at registration and leave us after five minutes. He didn't teach even a quarter of a period the whole year. (He was incredibly smug though!)

Maths teacher went off on stress in GCSE year. After a string of substitutes a long term substitute was recruited. She was an art teacher and used to burst into tears because she couldn't help us (she wanted to).

OP from what your son has said it sounds like the teacher just isn't that bothered.

OddBoots Sun 08-Nov-15 13:49:57

This does sound worth discussing with the school but I would do that alongside getting him some extra resources such as a text book for that exam board.

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