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Thinking of moving DD from her school at end of year 7 due to poor handling of closure period - anyone else in the same boat

(153 Posts)
fancymcfancypants Fri 10-Jul-20 10:42:06

That's it really. We've been really, really disappointed with provision from the school during the closure:
- nothing whatsoever in the way of 'live' teaching
- not a single call from the school, pastoral or otherwise, until 2 weeks ago when a teacher that DD had never spoken to before called to check in on her (as if she'd be comfortable sharing any concerns with someone she doesn't know from adam)
- virtually no effort at all put into lesson planning (sample maths lesson 'here are the answers to Tuesday's worksheet, go over anything you got wrong')
- in instances where children have fallen behind by a long way e.g. one of DD's friends who didn't submit work for two weeks, no contact from the school at all

Complained to HOY (as have many other parents) and was told they were going to try and do more live teaching but some of the teachers 'aren't comfortable' online.

She likes the school generally. It's viewed very highly in the part of London that we're in, very sought-after etc and before Covid we were fairly happy with it. But what she's getting just isn't anywhere close to proper schooling and the thought of it all dragging on into next year is really dispiriting.

They are now saying they aren't sure KS3 will be back at school in September and I'm thinking of doing whatever it takes to somewhere else for her. We recently moved and are now in the catchment for a local academy that seems (according to other parents) to be handling this stuff better so was wondering about going to ask them to put her on a waiting list for an occasional place (which I'm told do come up). Alternatively, we can afford to pay private school fees but wanted DC to go to state schools. But now I feel we'd be letting DD down if we don't explore other options that are available to us.

I suppose I'm just putting this out there to see if anyone else has been massively disappointed with how their DC's school have handled the past few months and is also considering moving.
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TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Fri 10-Jul-20 10:46:12

Schools were acting on government instructions. We were meant to set work based on what they had already done.

I did live lessons. No one attended.

FredaFrogspawn Fri 10-Jul-20 10:49:53

What was your impression of the school prior to closure? How does your daughter feel about a move? If it was already disappointing and she would like to move then go for it. Although I’d be loathe to judge the school just on closure, I would be disappointed at no calls from her tutor or challenging work. The live lessons not so much - there is little evidence that live lessons online have been very successful generally.

fancymcfancypants Fri 10-Jul-20 10:50:26

Right, I didn't realise that. It's odd then that some schools have done it so differently e.g. the one we now live nearby which is managing to give zoom lessons, do weekly mentor check-ins with kids, record videos of teachers going over problem areas e.g. in maths.

I'm sorry no-one turned up to your live lessons, that must have been v frustrating. But I do know a good chunk of DDs class would definitely have attended had live lessons been available to them.

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fancymcfancypants Fri 10-Jul-20 10:55:40

@fredafrogspawn I think she hate the idea of moving because she doesn't like change (had to move in year 4 because of a work relocation for us and took a while to adjust). Saying that, she hasn't made close friends at the school yet and I figure it would be better to move now than further down the line. I didnt' want to discuss it with her until I'd given it a bit more thought myself

Maybe you're right about the live lessons, perhaps I'm being too hung up on that. It's just really hard for them to maintain their momentum with just doing worksheets and watching BBC bitesize videos etc

Overall we were happy with the school before. I mean there's very little in the way of feedback - we had one report in the first term which was just a list of subjects and an initial next to each one to let us know if they were at the expected level and there was due to be a parents evening at the end of the year but that hasn't happened obvs. They are very much of the 'no news is good news' school of thought, which feels a bit odd in the first year of secondary because it's such a massive life change for them.

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W00t Fri 10-Jul-20 11:05:30

It's a tricky one. Personally, I've been pretty impressed with how my children's teachers have handled their education since lockdown. However, I know parents with children in different year groups to my children who are definitely unhappy, so clearly there have been huge variations not even between schools but within.
Did your daughter settle well when she began? What is her personality? Will she handle a move smoothly? (How has she adapted to lockdown, for example?).

More importantly- do any schools have places? Has her school learnt from their experience during the last four months? Do they have "capacity to change"?
Were things from September entirely back to normal, would you be happy with her continuing to GCSE in one of these other local schools? Presumably you chose hers because of outcomes rather than experience?

W00t Fri 10-Jul-20 11:06:09

A, sorry, huge cross-post there!

DonLewis Fri 10-Jul-20 11:10:24

I think it's OK to feel frustrated with how a school has handled stuff, after all, each school was left to its own devices and some have been fantastic and some haven't.

It's not teacher bashing to feel that your school is in the didn't do so well over lockdown camp. We can all recognise the strains and difficulties schools and individual teachers faced. It doesn't mean they got it right though.

I think moving your child is a huge step and I'm not sure doing so over an unprecedented and major one off that no one was ready for is the way forward, especially if you were fairly happy beforehand.

But that said, if you feel it's for the best, you feel it's for the best. Loom around, make some enquiries.

fancymcfancypants Fri 10-Jul-20 11:15:41

@w00t thank you for taking the time to answer.

She's pretty adaptable, conscientious, very sociable but hasn't made really strong friendships yet at school, just hasn't found her niche. I think, though she hates the idea of change, she actually handles it pretty well. There have been no major meltdowns during lockdown at all.

Re your questions about the school:
- capacity to change? I'm not confident to be honest
- if I knew things were back to normal from september I still wouldn't be enthusiastic about her going back there but I'd be less likely to be considering other options. there's a practical element here too - I'm trying to set up my own business and it's been bloody hard work as everyone knows having DC at home while also trying to work and though lots of schools might not be able to run as normal, I'd feel much happier leaving DD to her own devices if I felt she was benefitting from better work provision
- we chose the school because she got a place to be honest. We were living abroad during the applications process so couldn't use our address for catchment and were therefore restricted to schools with special criteria (as this one has) or private schools. When she got a place there under said criteria we were just relieved that she had a guaranteed place at a school with good reputation/results. We might have made a different decision if we'd been living here at the time

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fancymcfancypants Fri 10-Jul-20 11:18:16

@DonLewis v sensible thoughts - thank you. I don't want this to be a knee-jerk reaction but I'm increasingly worried about how much she's missed out on in the past few months.

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Comefromaway Fri 10-Jul-20 11:24:34

live lessons only started last week at ds's school but even though he is year 11 and leaving we have had several welfare check phone calls, fun challenges and i know from others there has been work set. yes, all consolidation of stuff already done but with feedback and meaningful

fancymcfancypants Fri 10-Jul-20 11:30:13

@comefromaway - sounds pretty good. I'm glad they're investing time in your DS and other year 11s. I know a few parents of year 11s who felt schools just abandoned them once they knew they wouldn't have to sit exams, while others have had a great experience. It just all seems to have been so variable.

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W00t Fri 10-Jul-20 11:31:45

Well, at least it hadn't been The School Of Your Dreams, otherwise that would have been far more disappointing! grin

Look at other schools definitely. If you can, speak to other parents (maybe through local SM, or on MN) to find out how they've handled the lockdown, but also how they handle things in general.
All schools have issues, but it's how they deal with them that makes the difference. As a parent you need to feel confident that something will happen if things go wrong.
It doesn't mean the right school will necessarily have spectacular results, but if they do well with children like your daughter and she's well-supported from home too then she will be successful.

fancymcfancypants Fri 10-Jul-20 11:34:56

One of the issues for us is that DD only has 3 hours of scheduled work each day and that can be, for example: 30 mins maths, 30 mins geography, 60 mins history and 60 mins PE or 60 mins 'catch-up' time. So, it's not uncommon for her to have just 2 hours of work set per day on core subjects and that, as explained above, is often 'do a worksheet, go over mistakes in a worksheet, watch this video and answer questions'.

So, leaving aside the quality of the work, the volume of it just seems really low for children in KS3.

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fancymcfancypants Fri 10-Jul-20 11:36:57

@w00t - v sensible advice, thanks. I will start asking around at least.

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catbellz Fri 10-Jul-20 11:41:57

* But what she's getting just isn't anywhere close to proper schooling*

I don't think any child, of any age is getting anywhere near what could be called a 'full education' at the moment. Even the KW kids that are in school won't be much better off.
We're a week off finishing for summer. What's to be gained starting at a new school in September when that school has probably had lots of issues too, but maybe just in different areas. And if your current school isn't opening fully in September, chances are your new school might not be either.
Everyone is in the same boat at the end of the day.

Mumto2two Fri 10-Jul-20 11:46:11

Aside from most state schools around here, not offering much by way of daily structure or online lessons, it’s interesting how low the turnout for those that have offered some has been. Our prep has had 100% uptake for all live lessons; perhaps because they have been mandatory and part of the regular school day. One lesson our daughter was a few minutes late logging on, and the teacher called to check where she was. We know children / teachers from at least 10 different independent schools in the surrounding areas..and they are all doing similar.
If I could afford it, I would definitely be looking elsewhere. But of course it depends on what happens next term..

TW2013 Fri 10-Jul-20 11:52:00

Do though make sure that you are comparing like with like. I have children in different years in different secondary schools. I would say that the older year group in school A is getting far more support and interaction than the younger year group in school B, however a friend in younger year group in school A is having less support than younger year group in school B, so actually maybe school B is doing better. I personally am actually happy with the level of learning both my dc are doing. Even within a year group one teacher might do more online stuff than another one. If though the nearby school is as good as the current one on other measures and more convenient then yr8 is not too late to switch.

Malmontar Fri 10-Jul-20 12:13:57

It seems the general consensus is schools are either doing too much or too little. DD is in Y7 too and we were shocked at the level of work she was being sent and were very close to moving her. It's a bit more complicated for us as she has SEND but her close friend who is in the school we were going to move her to is now overwhelmed with the amount of work she's being set.
Another friend has live lessons but due to safeguarding they aren't allowed cameras on in their lesson. DD was playing outside with her and it turns out she has just left the camera on for attendance and went out to play. I don't think live lessons are that great tbh. It's just filling the gap. This isn't homeschooling, it's crisis schooling, and it's important to remember that.

Comefromaway Fri 10-Jul-20 12:14:52

I don't think that only having 2 hours of work set is a problem if it is meanigful and appropriate work. My dd has had a full timetable of zoom classes as she attends a specialist vocational school/college and it is hard going. Ds's state school in a catchment with hugely varying types of families openly acknowledges the challenges of lack of equipment, space, wifi, siblings and parents working from home and sent a letter at the start of lockdown saying mental health is more important, do what you can, aim for a couple of hours but don't worry, we will make sure you catch up in September.

fancymcfancypants Fri 10-Jul-20 12:17:38

@mumto2two I hadn't realised that low turnout had been such an issue, everyone who I've spoken to has been desperately keen for more. Re your point about the school checking in when your DD was late - that expectation that they will be there is so important and for me that's part of the point of having live stuff not necessarily because it is always a better learning experience but because it helps them focus to know that they are expected to be there learning. I think a lot of children feel (not unreasonably) that no-one will give a monkeys if they do the scheduled work, submit homework etc and it's hard to stay motivated in that environment.

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noblegiraffe Fri 10-Jul-20 12:21:38

Parents seem to have this idea that live teaching is the gold standard and that any school not doing it is somehow lacking but actually live teaching actively disadvantages a large proportion of the school population through their inability to access it (lack of tech, lack of good enough internet) and the evidence coming out seems to show that it’s no better than pre-recorded videos. Certainly the idea that it somehow replicates the classroom experience is just nonsense.

The work provided doesn’t sound great but other options are available instead of changing school.
classroom.thenational.academy/ is the government funded online school and it is being massively beefed up for September - schools are being encouraged to see it as the remote provision option so even if you change schools, you won’t necessarily be getting what they’re giving now.

I’m not sure how your school is saying that KS3 won’t be back in September when the government has said that heads can’t take any decision that will prevent the full time return of all year groups. Unless you are not in England?

If you were happy with the school before, it seems a massive change for your DD based on extraordinary circumstances.

Comefromaway Fri 10-Jul-20 12:25:43

It is an unreasonable expectation to have all students arrive on time for live teaching. It's worked very well on the whole at dd's school (its really the only safe way to teach dance online) but each class there is usually at least one student or teacher who loses connection, has a power cut, computer closes down on them etc etc. At one point my dd had no sound so her friend phoned her and put her phone next to her computer and she listened via the phone on hands free.

thunderthighsohwoe Fri 10-Jul-20 12:40:00

Live teaching is certainly not the gold standard in primary, though I appreciate it might not be the same in secondary - too many issues with children sharing tech, WiFi stability (we’re rural around here), and that’s with a middle class, financially comfortable cohort.

I believe schools are now able to apply for a DFE grant to provide visualisers and other necessary tech to teachers so that they can record lessons at home, for families to access at a time that suits them.

Lots may change between now and a second lockdown in terms of what schools offer.

Mumto2two Fri 10-Jul-20 13:00:38

@fancymcfancypants - yes it has surprised me too. All the parents we know are frustrated at the lack of provision in their schools, and those that have offered the odd live lesson, have been surprised how few seem to participate. I’ve seen similar comments on other threads. That’s why I wondered whether it might be due to the sporadic timetabling of these, as opposed to having a more structured inclusion of those lessons. Of course it’s not ‘gold standard’, but it’s a darn sight better than nothing.

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