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Am I being unreasonable towards my son's teacher re his use of SATS results to hurt him?

(36 Posts)
Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 00:31:00

Ok, hope there are enough buzzwords in the title to get someone looking at this! grin
It is a serious post though, and I hope you can stay with it as I don't want anyone saying I haven't given a full picture of teh problem.
My son is nine and in year 4 in mainstream. He has diagnoses of Aspergers, ADHD and dyspraxia. He is is fully statemented with full time 1-1 help. He has many problems. To make matters worse, he is also under the care of a geneticist as he is srongly suspected of having neurofibromatosis 1, which could mean that when he hits puberty, he could well end up covered in disfiguring tumours with some pretty grim consequences. He is short for his age, can't run properly, ride a bike or walk long distances due to dyspraxia and low muscle tone. He can't write so anyone else can read it, he is so impulsive he cannot attend after school classes, and he also has difficulty with speech clarity due to the above problems. He has communication difficulties typical of autism and has been picked on in the past. . We are told he is 'popular' at school, but he is never invited to play at anyone's house, even though we invite children round, and he hasn't been to a birthday party in two years, despite us paying for children to go the cinema, see an entertainer, have pizza out etc for his party, and my assiduous courting of the parents of children he likes and who seem to enjoy his company. I would say he appears around two years younger than his real age. He is aware of most of the above and it upsets him, especially when he sees his NT sisters having a lively social life, getting certificates at school etc.
I work very hard trying to teach him communication skills, modifying his behaviour and teaching him coping skills. But I also work hard to raise his self-esteem. Like many nerdy aspies, he has always been very bright. He could read fluently at three, and loves books. I have always tried to encourage this and he is proud of his abilities in this area. He is lucky enough to have a great teacher this year, who really seems to 'get' him, but this teacher only does four days in the classroom, and another teacher, who does not seem to 'get' my son stands in.
Now, this is the crux of the matter. My son told me that last week, a girl in my son's class told my son that another child was 'in the red group, and you are only in the orange group .' My son said, 'It doesn't matter' and she said, 'yes it does. It means she is better at reading than you' to which my son replied, 'No, I'm the best reader in the class'. My son tells me that at this point, the teacher intervened, told my son, 'you used to be the best, but now you are only around the fourth best', and then called a group of children to stand around the class computer while he pulled up the SATS results (I assume) and showed them that another (named) boy in the class got a level 3.5, and that my son only got a level 3.
If this is true (and it seems an extraordinary story to make up) I think it is so wrong. For one thing, we were told at parents evening after the SATS that even parents wouldn't be told their own child's SaTS results! So to pass this information around with the express purpose of humiliating a child with pretty severe special needs seems extraordinary to me. OK, you don't want a kid saying 'I'm the best reader in the class' whatever their problems, and I instantly told my son that he shouldn't say things like this, but my little boy has so many problems to face in life, and he has so little to be proud of, and I am horrified that a teacher would do such an hatchet job on his self-esteem. I would have thought saying something like, 'There are lots of good readers in this class, you are all doing really well, we all have individual talents and we should't compare ourselves or anyone else with other people, but just do our best', and then moving on would have been better than this big performance with the SATS results. I am not steaming in all guns blazing, and have sent my son's class teacher an extremely polite email asking him to check the story and let me know what really happened etc - but if this did occur as my son says it did, what should I do? Is it OK for the teacher to do this? And why, if my son is slipping at school, haven't I been told? My instinct is to pull my son out of school and hire a hit-man, but obv I will restrain my instincts! Please help! (and thanks for sticking with this marathon post!)

Goblinchild Sun 12-Dec-10 00:38:26

There is no such thing as a level 3.5 in SATS, the levels would be 3c, 3b and 3a.
That said, my first move would be to make an appointment with the teacher and calmly lay out what you have been told by your son and ask the teacher for his version of events.

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 00:40:25

Yes, I am doing that. But if in the meaeting I find it istrue, what then? (You see the school is so secretive about individual SATS results I didn't even know that - so very worried about a teacher getting the kids to cluster round the computer to compare the results to show my son he isn't very good at the one thing he is proud of)

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 00:41:03

My son must have got the '3' from somewhere, and it wasn't from home.

Goblinchild Sun 12-Dec-10 00:41:34

Oh, and level 3b is average for end of Y4.
My son was a very good reader and decoder, but struggled with more complex texts that involved having to predict events, deal with metaphorical language and discuss the motivation of characters. So your son may be having similar issues as the reading demands change.
And no, it is never ok for a teacher to use humiliation to make a point.

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 00:43:29

His teacher has never mentioned any problems with his understanding to us! I'm not saying it doesn't exist, just that I am appalled to think this stuff may be being used to punish/humiliate my son in the classroom.

Goblinchild Sun 12-Dec-10 00:43:35

Is is common practise for KS2 children to be aware of their current level and to be given clear guidance about what they need to do to make the next level, in a positive way.

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 00:45:51

Not in our school Goblinchild. As I say, we weren't told our children's yr 2 SATS results, and while I would have liked to have known my son's, I wouldn't expect to have been told the levels of other specific children in the class for the purposes of comparison.

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 00:46:16

Are you a teacher?

Goblinchild Sun 12-Dec-10 00:46:38

That's why you need to find out from the adult what his version of events is. My son used to get enraged because he was sure people were mocking him and laughing at him, even if they hadn't got a clue what he was talking about.
He also used to give detailed accounts of his side of the story, but you need a full picture.

daisy5678 Sun 12-Dec-10 00:46:39

I am a teacher and what you describe, if it happened, is very worrying and wrong. It's not a 'pulling-out-of-school' thing, but probably a 'have-a-formal-meeting- with-teacher/ Headteacher' thing.

I would be really unhappy if this happened to my son (also 9, Statemented, autism, ADHD, no social life, very good reader!) as it sounds like she basically publicly pissed all over something that is one of the few things your son feels he can be proud of. Not good.

Goblinchild Sun 12-Dec-10 00:47:34

I am a primary teacher, with son with Aspergers. He's 16 now.

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 00:49:17

Thank you givemesleep - sounds like we have twins! If, and I do say IF, this happened as described, and I have a meeting, what should I do/say? I have got the 'find out what happens in a polite and open-minded bit' nailed, as they say on X-Factor, yes, a meeting with teacher, one day a week teacher (and deputy head and head of inclusion?) I can sort, but I don't know what to say or do after that and would welcome advice.

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 00:51:48

My little boy is increasingly aware of his limitations and difficulties, which is pretty painful to see. Also his distress at being excluded from social events. If he is diagnosed with NF I really don't know what I will say to him. So it is a very emotional issue for me, hence my use of email with his teacher as I can stay calm on the computer!

Goblinchild Sun 12-Dec-10 00:53:39

take notes to the meeting of what your son told you and any other questions you have.
Be clear what you want the outcome to be if what he has said is exactly what happened, and make notes of what is said in the meeting at the time, ensuring that they know what you are writing.
Try to stay focused, angry is ok, incoherent rage doesn't help. Be cold and clear.
At the end, tell them you need time to think through what you have learnt and will get back to them.
Communicate in writing or email, so you have a record.

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 00:58:05

Thank you Goblinchild - my problem is that I don't know what I do want the outcome to be. Hmm...I suppose, don't do it again. Ask why a teacher would you want to 'piss all over one of the few things he feels he can be proud of' as givemesleep eloquently put it, to ask that if there is a problem with my son's work and if he is slipping behind the other children we would like to be informed personally, not hear it like this (given that he has a statement and is supposed to have an IEP), and.....what?

Goblinchild Sun 12-Dec-10 01:03:19

If it happened as your son said?
Unprofessional, undermining his self-esteem, pointless exercise in embarrassing the child, creating a climate of competition between children when they should be fostering a sense of improving ion one's own targets so that a child's achievements are measured against their past achievements and not other children.
Much closer liaison between the two teachers so that they have a uniform approach.
I'd also discuss what they are doing to ensure his inclusion within the class socially, and within the wider school environment.
Who does your son play with during breaks?

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 01:15:18

Goblinchild, thank you again. Both of you on this thread are being helpful. So pleased not to be on the main board - can hear it now 'your son sounds like a boastful brat' etc!
Yes, all that sounds good (F his account is pretty correct, and I definitely am already checking that out as a first step.
I don't really know who he plays with - I believe that some of the kids he regards as his friends have started playing 'games' such as running away from him when he approaches them, which is easy as he can't really run properly. I have asked his teacher to look into this, but haven't heard back at all. I think he spends much of his time on his own, though he has a friend in another class who is pretty eccentric, if not as out there are my son. I think they spend time together. I'm not sure.

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 01:16:07

He has a circle of friends last year but it didn't seem to help.

Goblinchild Sun 12-Dec-10 01:18:39

Time to nail their feet to the floor about the specifics of your son in their school and how they can support him all round.
Get it clear in your head first before going into battle.
One of the phrases I used a lot was ' So what you are saying is...'
then writing a note to that effect. It made the others really think about their responses and unsettled them in a good way.

Spinkle Sun 12-Dec-10 08:29:32

If he has 1-1 where were they during this?

Just a thought - they might be the person to speak to about this to clarify matters.

But yes, you do need a meeting with this teacher to find out what went on. What was said is by-the-by ultimately because your son's perception of it was very negative and this is massively undermining for him. The teacher needs to be aware that your son will take criticism to heart very quickly.

It will 'train' that particular teacher, if nothing else.

Most teachers know bugger all about ASD. 'Cept the ones who have ASD kids of their own wink

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 08:50:28

good point Spinkle, no idea where his 1-1 was. I am constantly being told eg when I ask for my son to get a 'nudge' to remember his bags and coat etc at the end of the day) 'It is difficult to do this with a class of nearly 30, and I say, 'but he has a 1-1!' To clarify, I don't want anyone to physically collect them for him, as I do want him to develop some basic organisational skills, but to say something like, 'OK, what do we need to remember at the end of the day?'
I will def include the 1-1 in this, and yes, thank you, it is a good point that my son's perception of this was that he was being told he was rubbish and that he felt confused (mostly) but also upset and crushed. Believe me, I kbnow my son can be pedantic and annoying and like a dog with a bone, but a brisk refusal to discuss and a moving on will usually work to get him off his hobbyhorse.

IndigoBell Sun 12-Dec-10 09:36:52

I would say you are very concerned about your sons self esteem and ask what they are going to do to help build it up.

I would talk to his 1:1 and find out how much time she actually spends with him.

It is a legal requirement for them to tell you your Childs SATs results at the end of KS2.

And I believe that although levels are reported as 3a 3b etc some schools do use an internal system of 3.5 etc

It is never acceptable to either humiliate a child - or to compare him to other children.

If the 1:1 says something like this did occur I would make a formal complaint to the board of governors so that at least it goes on her record. Because almost certainly the head will back up her staff and say it didn't occur.

Christmasisland Sun 12-Dec-10 10:56:31

Indigo, thank you. That is very interesting about the legal requirement! We were not told. My son says 3.5 - so maybe they do and if they do, then that does tend to back up his version of events. My son has a nearly all male team - two male teachers, and a male 1-1 four days a week and a female 1-1 one day a week. I think this has been good for him in general (his class teacher is brillian) but the stand-ins are not as good. The school has a poor record re communicating with parents. Many parents are unhappy with this aspect. I was laughed at (literally) when I asked about my son's academic progress at a reception parent's evening, and though I can be assertive about his needs, feel as if anyone who asks these questions are labelled as pushy parents.

Goblinchild Sun 12-Dec-10 11:02:30

'though I can be assertive about his needs, feel as if anyone who asks these questions are labelled as pushy parents.'

grinCcan you imagine that I am some teacher's worst nightmare? A pushy parent who has a demanding child with sn and knows the bullshit for what it is?
You go ahead and ask those questions in a firm, clam and assertive voice. And keep asking, and recording. Educate yourself about your son's entitlements and use the knowledge like a crowbar.
Sometimes I prise things open carefully and sometimes I bludgeon. It all depends on the responses I get.

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