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What would you think about this school?

(50 Posts)
WoodHeaven Wed 09-Dec-15 18:04:04

Dc1 has started Y7. He is clearly unimpressed but have decided to let him settle down a bit more before doing anything. However, there are a few things that make me uneasy.

- in most subjects, they have two teachers. One is clearly 'leading' whereas the other is mostly a supply teacher. These teachers change a lot (eg he has had 4 teachers In French, all supply teachers, so far covering half of the lessons. The other half is covered by the 'main' teacher who us now off such until after the hols).
It is also known by the children that X is covering for different subjects as far apart as history and science.
- not a lot been done in the first term st all as it seems that teachers couldn't work well wo the children all having iPads. And they didnt come in until after half term.
- poor communication. We were told the children would be evaluated against their first standard evaluation when they first started. No info about what these levels are (some have been given to the children, others didn't). Reports were supposed to be available this week as per calendar. Again nothing there a week on. They are still doing the evaluations.
- dc1 also report regular fifghts at lunch time. Apparently said children end up in detention wo much effect.
- more specifically for dc1, clearly nothing in place either if your child is G&T. He us fluent in French (bilingual) and have been assured he would get specific work. Nothing has happened so far. Supply teachers arrive not knowing they have a bilingual child in the class. Similar issue in maths or science.

Quite a few children have left in the last few weeks which makes me think I'm not the only one wondering.

So what would you think? Normal or an issue?

Scarydinosaurs Wed 09-Dec-15 18:14:22

Oh blimey it sounds like you could have a child in any number of schools that I know of- this problem seems to be coming up all over the place.

Lack of permemant staff: funding cuts mean that staff aren't being replaced, at my school we have staff teaching a myriad of subjects to cover shortfalls in different faculties. We are also replacing experienced staff with NQTs who have to have a reduced timetable, this means we are short all over the place.

Term one of year seven a lot of students start and leave. Sometimes a place comes up at their first choice school, sometimes a family move occurs at this point as it is seen as less disruptive, sometimes parents take them out to homeschool after experimenting with mainstream school following a period of homeschooling...I could go on and on.

Communication at secondary is crap compared to primary <sweeping generalisation> your child will get better at it and you will either lower your standards or get used to it.

Split classes- see above comments about shortfalls.

Most secondaries prioritise upper school for class splits, so it will get better year on year.

Basically, if your son is happy, I wouldn't change- if you think there is a better school for him (anywhere that could make the most of his bilingual skills?) I would move him.

Education is in a sorry state at the moment. I don't want this to become a partly political broadcast...but, vote Labour.

lljkk Wed 09-Dec-15 18:21:13

DC3 is in yr7.
iPads: just weird. Is this private, outside UK??
Covering history & science isn't so crazy to me (I could have trained to do both).
There's a bad teacher shortage in parts of UK, are other local schools any better resourced for teachers?
Fights... not great. Not unheard of.
Evaluation: always done in first 4 wks or even before they start secondary, for local state secondaries. I presume no evaluation = no setting?

Expecting Bilingual extension in other subjects implies definitely not a state school in UK. Pls. say U aren't paying for this school.

WoodHeaven Wed 09-Dec-15 18:48:02

State school.

Yes I'm aware of the shortage of teachers. I'm sure it was in the news again today.

They've had the evaluations though. But there is no system fur feedback to the children. So they are supposed to choose let's say 2 different subjects in a list of 10 fur homework and do these two pieces. They expect the children to pick the ones at the right level fur them but havent given them clear evaluation results do they can tell what they should do? (Of course, dc1 chooses the easiest).

iPads are getting very common now in secondary (and yes you are existed to buy them....)

I'm not expected bilingual extension in other subjects btw. Just proper extension (in the subject) which doesn't happen when the supply teacher gets caught out by questions/answers of said child. The problem is that dc1 then dies t trust the teacher which isnt great iyswim.

WoodHeaven Wed 09-Dec-15 18:50:37

Dc1 is t happy. He was really disenhearten to start with. Now he is sort of getting on with it but is bored and unhappy.

Not sure that other schools don't have the same problems. I know about another two that DO have this issue with teachers

BabyGanoush Wed 09-Dec-15 18:54:28

Why is he doing French if he is bilingual? All bi lingual kids I know do a new language (and their native language for gcse anyway)

BrianButterfield Wed 09-Dec-15 18:58:00

The teacher problem is going to happen a LOT. My good, previously very happy and stable school, rural, decent results etc is haemorrhaging teachers. People are just leaving without jobs to go to, at Christmas and Easter and even walking out and never coming back. And as for applications for vacancies...well let's just say the criteria is "can you speak English? Are you breathing?" and even then the days of shortlisting are well over. And this is, as I say, a good school! Lots are far worse.

WoodHeaven Wed 09-Dec-15 19:08:14

He is doing French because there is nothing else! They will fast track next year that these children will them do German from Y8 or 9.

I agree. This is a good school. GCSE results are good but these are children who started secondary 5 years ago and didn't have that sort of issues to face with...

lljkk Wed 09-Dec-15 19:20:06

There would be riots around here if parents were routinely expected to buy iPad for secondary. We live in a middle-middle-middle income place.

The kids do often use phones in class to look stuff up, with tablets to borrow for those who don't have phones, fair enough.

WoodHeaven Wed 09-Dec-15 19:24:06

Unfortunately it seems that parents were happy when there was a consultation 3 years ago hmm

WildStallions Wed 09-Dec-15 19:31:55

I have DC at 3 different London schools and none of them are remotely like this.

They have teachers for all subjects. No split classes.

Very little fighting.

Reports come on time.

And these aren't good well regarded schools.

I'd look at what other local schools have places. I think this school sounds bad.

lljkk Wed 09-Dec-15 19:47:58

@WoodHeaven: what about parents who simply don't have the money? Is there a fund to buy their child an iPad? Why an iPad and not a MUCH cheaper tablet with software that won't go obsolete so quickly? Are the iPads insured? How are kids on pupil premium supposed to be able to get one? And just what do the kids use them for? Who takes responsibility if one gets stolen while on school property?

DD uses her phone in class as a calculator, translator or (mostly) quick fact checker.

GinandJag Wed 09-Dec-15 20:12:36

I think split classes is a fairly standard model.

The outstanding school I am in now has two Science teachers for KS3 and 3 for KS4, as well as 2 for A-level subjects.

Personally, I think it is good to have two teachers for KS3 Science, as it brings diversity of teaching styles, and more specialist teaching.

Supply teachers are a fact of life in all state schools. As I said, I teach in an outstanding school, and I am on block supply. I do treat my students as well as I would were I in a permanent post, and they get quality lessons - well planned, delivered and assessed. I'm a professional and that doesn't go away because I am a temporary employee.

I don't really know what you expect with your bilingual child. The choices are to be a "language assistant" to the class, or to sit it out in the library. Perhaps he could join a GCSE class for a few sporadic lessons? One thing is for sure, he will need help to jump though GCSE loopholes, especially in more formal and written work. The number of children I have seen get Bs in their native language GCSE is ridiculous because they thought they knew it all.

WoodHeaven Wed 09-Dec-15 20:16:24

Children who don't want to or can't buy can borrow one for the day. There is also a fund for people on lower income, people with more than two children at the school etc...

iPad is because that's where they can find all the apps they want (or so I'm told...).
They are insured too for (stole, broken screen etc etc).

I have no idea what they are using them for! Some homework is done on it, some apps are available (French is a good example). Plus I know do some research on them when they are in the classroom.
According the dc1, there isn't much they couldn't do with pen and paper....

So it looks like I need to check how other schools are doing around here. I suspect not very well but ....

WoodHeaven Wed 09-Dec-15 20:24:39

Ginan I don't have a problem with supply teachers as such. I have a problem with a supply teacher in French that doesn't know he has a bilingual child in his class that is supposed to get a different teaching. They all discover that at some point in the first lesson and then don't know what to do with dc1.
I have a problem with a science teacher that doesn't know what sort of element is the periodic table (and get caught out when dc1 mentions and unusual one).
I have an issue when very clearly there is no communication between the teachers when there is a split class (again French is a good example of that). Not so much in science where they just teach different subjects, eg one is doing chemistry, the other biology.

And I have an issue with the maths teacher who is very happy to point out other teachers 'fault' ('I will have a word with the French teacher so he has the right teaching for him' said at parents evening) but goes blank when you ask for the same thing from him in maths (eg what you do for your very able children? Do you take part in the xxx challenge?)

It's not an issue with supply teachers/plait teaching as such. It's the organisation and the lack of communication with the parents/children/between them. It's the lack of challenge for able children.
And the fact that all that is compounded by the very high turnover in teaching staff.

That's wo talking about the fact the teacher never get to 'know' the children which makes it much harder to adapt the teaching to the people in front of them.

Curioushorse Wed 09-Dec-15 20:33:08

Hmmm. It's not ideal.

1. Yeah, vote Labour. The situation in Education is going to get worse before it gets better.

2. iPads are super trendy right now. I know of a number of schools which have them (and to the pp, there are a variety of funding models. The one my school uses requires parents to 'rent' them at a significantly lower cost than buying outright. Existing students will be allocated a 'school iPad'). The only that there isn't actually that much you can do with an iPad in lessons without making up ridiculous stuff. In about 1/5 of my lessons they are super useful, but in the other lessons I'm just sort of fabricating reasons to use them with activities that could just as easily have been done another way. As students are fundamentally being assessed in a Michael Gove dream-world of a 1950s Education System, actually it's quite traditional skills which are being assessed in my subject- skills which an iPad actually hampers.

3. In terms of evaluation....we have no clue what we're doing. Not the foggiest. All schools have been told to get rid of the old KS3 levels and invent their own assessment system (whhhhhhhhyyyyy? On the basis that we all have to have one that links in with the GCSE syllabi, why can't we all just use the same one?), so, although we all tested Year 7 as they arrived, those test results now correspond with pretty much nothing. Yeah, we haven't shown our results to our kids either. Honestly, it's because it would just confuse them. The results have come out with legacy GCSE level predictions (because those have changed too in half the subjects, haven't they?) and KS3 predictions which we're not supposed to use. So explaining an old system which the children won't be using to them so that they can interpret the data would be ridiculous. (remember that 'Vote Labour' thing? I'd do it based on the current assessment strategy alone!).

4. Fights. Standard, really. If there are fights in lessons, then I'd worry.

5. Teachers? G'luck if you're outside London (or even in parts of it).

I do agree with PP, though. The situation will improve as your child progresses up through the school. If there is a dodgy teaching scenario, then we'd always give it to Year 7.

Scarydinosaurs Wed 09-Dec-15 20:38:31

Was this your first choice secondary? Are there other options? Are you close to a grammar school?

Justcommenting Wed 09-Dec-15 20:50:04

I have French bilingual DCs, one was in a state superselective and there is no way that the teachers had the time or flexibility to do anything extra in the French classes. This DC showed me their CA (one of these prepared and then learnt and rewritten ones after they had done it. The French was of a high standard with all tenses including subjunctive used, grammatically and orthographe correct, very good vocabularly. Basically far beyond GCSE standard IMO as a French native speaker. Although this DC got 100% in everything else they got an A for the written assessment. Please do not expect any extension work for a bilingual DC in a state school, the teachers even when good do not have the time. Also as a previous poster said do not expect their mark in GCSE to necessarily represent their level in French because written work will be marked by people who may not have the skills needed to recognise anything but tickbox answers. Hopefully the new GCSE like the iGCSE will be a better test for MFLs.

WoodHeaven Wed 09-Dec-15 20:51:34

No real other option of secondary here. A change will involve a lot of involvement from us so will not be done lightly.

We've been told that they are going to carry on using the old system (6a, 5b etc...) as the system hasn't changed yet (Ep that's what they have told us as parents...) so all evaluations so far are given out this way.
Which raise another issue. Are they working to the old system and the children will have to convert the gap or are they working to the new program? Who knows.

I've seen the issue that the new program have brought in primary. It's not an easy one to solve. BUT they still need to evaluate the children and let them know how well or not so well they are doing.
My experience with primary has also shown me that during that period of tansistion, some things can go under the radar, like a child being two years behind in a core subject (that's dc2) so I'm very aware about that too.

WoodHeaven Wed 09-Dec-15 20:55:49

just I wouldn't expect it IF they hadn't said they would it AND they hadn't done numerous times before..... (There has been a few children in that case in the last 7 years and they be all been given different work to do)

Besides, if this was an issue then surely the French teacher should have said so instead of saying 'yes of course we'll do x and y'.

Scarydinosaurs Wed 09-Dec-15 21:02:47

^^ Curious summed it up very nicely.

I've been teaching for almost 10 years. Teaching is all I've ever wanted to do. I loved my job and my school. In the last two years it has changed so much that this week I'm considering either teaching abroad or just leaving it altogether. I cry when I think about going into work. The kids are still great, my subject is still great, BUT I can't stand the expectations from management and I can't deliver my subject without basic things like books, glue and scissors.

Justcommenting Wed 09-Dec-15 21:03:20

Every parents evening they said that extension work would be done or extra reading. It might have happened for a couple of lessons and then fizzled out.

Frusso Wed 09-Dec-15 21:06:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ripeningapples Wed 09-Dec-15 21:09:13

We've done both. Indy and state. The state secondary we experienced was not fit for purpose in terms of ethos, organisation, academics or behaviour. It was outstanding and rated outstanding when it was on its downward trajectory. When it was excellent and sought after it was good. One poor head with neither standards nor vision destroyed it. Not sure it had anything to do with the tories. The rot set in in the 70s and teachers have been complaining for as long as I remember. They complained when I was a Local Authority governor in the 80s, when I was a primary (state) parent in the 90s and 00s, and from 2010 when dd attended aforementioned state secondary. That's why I find the complaining so hard to take seriously. If it's so bad now how was it so bad in the 80s?

WoodHeaven Wed 09-Dec-15 21:20:10

To all the teachers
I know how frustrating things are at the moment. For various reasons, I have the opportunity to talk to lots of teachers, primary and secondary, and they all say the same thing.
I hope you haven't taken my grumble as an attack on the teachers. I know you are all doing the best you can.

I'm just very frustrated by a system that let children down. By a school that says one thing and does another.
And I have been wondering whether it was 'normal' for things to be like this.

If this is the case, then no point looking at other secondaries.
Maybe private if dc1 can get a scholarship (not easy anyway).
Or extend the teaching at home I do in French anyway to other subjects and ensure he is at the right place for GCSE.

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