Top tips for parent's evening(45 Posts)
Its DS's parent's evening tonight. He's in year 8.
Has anyone any advice for how to get something useful of this evening?
I get lost in all the double-speak... "DS is working within the class" (what does that actually mean - is it good, bad or indifferent?
I always ask "what does DS need to work on to improve" or "is there any specific areas we can support him in". At DS's school they teachers tend to ask him about his strengths and weaknesses too - which can sometimes be illuminating!
I always ask for specific areas where DC could concentrate on improving/where we could provide additional support at home. It sometimes works. I don't really care where they are in the class - just are they fulfilling their own potential
rather than mucking about at the back of the room .
I always ask DD beforehand if she has any difficulties in class or anything she wants to raise. e.g. 'Sometimes DD has trouble keeping up writing the notes' or whatever.
Then I write down (in order of the teachers I am seeing) at most 3 points/questions per subject.
Is poor handwriting causing an issue
is she speaking in MFL lesson
I think she is getting more confident in maths
How can I help with creative writing
If she did this for GCSE would you expect her to pass
She's still having problems with some of the boys in class, please can you re-look at the seating
Or just simply
I think she's getting on fine, is that how you see it
I always found DD1's parents evening productive by using this approach. DD2's first secondary one isn't until May!
If teachers aren't explaining your child's progress to you in a way that makes sense, then they are not doing their job properly! If they give you a load of jargon-laced waffle, say "Could you explain what that actually means
in English please?"
Oh and in case anyone thinks I'm teacher-bashing, I am actually a teacher. I don't see why teachers would assume that parents are up on all the edu-speak. I certainly wouldn't be if I weren't a teacher.
Yy to asking specific questions if you have any though - contributing in lessons, speaking in mfl etc.
I ask my dcs how they feel about the subject, do they feel confident, do they feel they are doing well etc - what issues they are having with the teachers/kid they are sitting with or working with/pace of work/expectations. And then I feed back to the teacher - for example sometimes teachers are surprised that my dcs feel like they are failing due to no positive feedback from teacher...stuff like that is easy to solve/talk through.
Before each teacher, I ask my dcs how they get on in that subject - do they like the teacher? Why / Why not ? Do they understand the work? Have they had any grades lately - assessments or essays or practice exam questions etc? Is the behaviour management in class good ? Is the work hard enough / stretching them ? Does the teacher help if they are stuck with something? Do they know when there is a 'subject' clinic, or when thy can speak to the subject teacher out of class if stuck with something.
Then I base my questions around that.
What does (s)he need to do to improve? is always a good one though.
This is what happened last night:-
<after the usual chat with the child>
Me: how is DS progressing?
Teacher: he is meeting our expectations.
Me: what are your expectations?
Teacher: I'm not allowed to tell you. School policy. We've worked out an individual pathway for each student but we aren't going to share it with the parents. If you want to discuss it further, then book a meeting with the Head of Year.
It tells me nothing. Maybe their expectations are really low, maybe they are really high, maybe somewhere in the middle. I'd be interested to know what they expect for him, but the real question I want to know is how well is he doing? And they won't tell me.
That's almost comical Jodi secret expectations, wtf? - will you speak to the Head of Year?
No, its not worth it.
That was one teacher, but I saw six others who all managed to communicate something more illuminating despite the clear-as-mud policy.
So, if I spoke to the HoY, it would only result in some retraining for that particular teacher, which would help others but would probably flag me up as one of "those" parents.
Wtf at "I'm not allowed to tell you" and "DS is working within the class."
It's like school reports now. They could be about any child. There's some opaque "level" and then a line of copy and pasted guff about "meeting expectations" and being a "valued member of the class".
I understand the concept of everyone moving along their own pathway and having individual goals, but pupils need to be given a bit of a clue as to what these actually are. I suppose the logical extension of this is running the 100m but everyone is in a sealed lane, so you can't see the competitors or have any notion of whether you're first or last.
Surely though you know what their target grades/levels are and what they're currently achieving. That should tell you if there's a big problem. Biggest problem we have is DS has been set low targets for end of year, is currently meeting or exceeding them but there's no movement up into higher sets and no real pushing from the teacher to see how high they could get. It's a bit like well done you're there already and that's that. He's Yr 9 and I'd like a bit more urgency as he's borderline for foundation/higher maths apparently, needs to do higher to be allowed to do triple science but they're happy with his line on the achievement graph.
We get sent home grades sheets which give a number for whether they are making 'expected progress', or above or below. But no-one will tell us what expected progress for our child is.
To complicate things further, it is not possible to get 'above expected progress' in some subjects ( eg maths) if they left primary scool with a level 6 or above, because expected progress for them is a 9 at GCSE, and they can't exceed that.
For the subjects like languages that they didn't do at primary it is difficult to get a feel for how well they are doing if they are making expected progress but we don't know what the expected progress is. It makes it hard to know whether or not that subject would be a good GCSE choice or not.
I don't understand how schools think this is acceptable.
They are children. We are their parents. We are legally responsible for their education according to the government, so of course we should be provided with any information concerning how they are being educated, how they are doing, and how they can do better.
The report doesn't tell me levels, but the teacher in question did offer me information that he's working towards level 5. However, she was quick to point out that this has nothing to do with NC level 5 - NC levels were scrapped last summer.
As far as I can make out, this a set of levels developed by that department for that subject. I tried to find out a bit more about them, but met a blank wall as she just refused to answer any question that might give me a clue.
DS summed it up as we walked away. He said that she told me in the first sentence that she wasn't going to tell me how he was doing, so why did I spend 5 minutes trying to find out?
TBH I don't have a clue how well he's doing in that subject.
Oh, but she did say that DS should choose her subject for GCSE! (I forgot that bit). So, maybe that means that she thinks he's quite good at it??
I'm quite shocked by some of these school responses.
I teach and like to think I write very clear and personal reports and am very clear and honest about each child at parents' evening. I do like to point out what is great about each child with one or two areas they could improve on, and will always give an indication of how well they are progressing towards targets. What's the point of having that information and the children themselves don't know?!?!?
I don't tend to get asked that many questions.
But I have been teaching a long time.
Last parents evening I went to at DS' primary school, teacher is very young. She is clearly doing a good job but she really didn't give much away about DS specifically. I think we told her more about DS than she told us,
Some teachers are better than others at 'knowing' each child, some are better at explaining, some are more experienced.
If I felt I was being fobbed off, I would definitely go back to the HOY and push for more info.
It seems v.vague to me too! Just for comparison, my year 8 DS has been given a target grade for GCSE and each term we get a progress report which says whether he's on track or slipping behind in each subject. That makes it far easier as you can instantly see if there's a problem with a particular subject and target those teachers to see at parent's evening. The report gives effort and homework marks too. I still think it's daft to predict GCSE grades when they've so far to go, but at least it gives you a reference point and something clear to discuss.
I'm an ex-teacher and when I was teaching I wasn't allowed to tell parents either. Both parent's evenings and end of year reports had to be very generic and not talk about the individual. If my reports were too much about the individual, management would simply change it before it was sent out! One of the many reasons that I decided that teaching was not for me anymore. As a parent I dont want to hear what the whole class are doing I want to know about my children! I want teachers to be allowed to tell me!
I had one particular report in which every subject went, "This term we have been learning about... X. We studied A, then looked at B...." etc etc. I just chucked it in the bin. There was absolutely no point to it.
At primary school parents want to know if their child is learning the 3Rs, that they have some friends and that they're behaving decently. At secondary you want to know that they're turning up, acting in a civilised manner and exactly how they are doing. If they're struggling, are bottom of the class, don't make any effort, coasting, excelling, whatever - you need to know. Surely you have a right to know! All this flannel about levels and generic comments... huge waste of time for everybody.
On our termly reports they get graded 1 - 9 for achievement in tests, the target grade and grades A -E for behaviour, classwork and organisation. In the summer we get a comment too
We too give out termly progress reviews which reference the GCSE benchmark grade.
I'm aghast at these schools which do not do an individual report.
At my school, reports are chucked back at us if they are too generic. They must be completely individual and have clear targets for improvement indicated as well as praise for strengths.
What's the point otherwise?!?!?!?
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