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Should I bother complaining? (Long rant)

(20 Posts)
moosemama Wed 22-Jun-11 18:03:49

I have had yet another experience of ds1's teacher marching up to me after school and confronting me in a highly aggressive manner.

When he came out of school I asked him if he had handed in his homework - he said no. Then I asked his he'd brought home his new homework and he said he'd left it in his drawer. So, I got his completed homework out of his bag and asked him to take that to his teacher, then go inside and fetch his new homework - which he did, without complaint.

Stood there chatting with ds2 and dd, when I looked up to see his teacher striding towards me with a look of thunder of her face and really aggressive body language. I assumed ds1 must've done something really bad and I was about to hear about it - but no.

She barked at me that she had reminded him three times today to put his homework in his bag, the last time being only two minutes ago. I apologised and told her he's been very tired and vague the last couple of weeks and we've been having similar problems at home. To which she told me she had told him to put his homework in his bag and he'd refused, saying he wanted to bring it home tomorrow - so it has nothing to do with him being vague 'he's not vague he's rude and disobedient'.

I was taken aback at the aggressiveness and just said I would speak to him, but as we walked away I was shaking and quite upset and angry. It wasn't what she said it was her whole manner and the way she spoke to me - really aggressive and confrontational. Fwiw, she was way off the mark - ds knows he does this particular homework on Thursday evenings at home, so he didn't see a need to bring it home today, she didn't give him a reason to bring it home today, so in his eyes there was no need to comply. I asked him if he'd been rude and he was adamant that he wasn't, that he didn't use a rude tone of voice, he just said he wanted to bring it home tomorrow. I told him that he knows he should do as he is told by his teachers, parents etc and that he knows its naughty not to and he admitted that is something I tell him a lot, but got quite upset telling me he wasn't rude at all, then said he was really confused because he thought I taught him it was only rude if you used a rude tone of voice, but now I'm telling him its just rude to say no. Aaarrgh!

The only other thing that might be relevant is that a few weeks ago the teacher cornered me after school, took me into a classroom and told me that ds was basically unteachable (not in so many words) and wouldn't qualify for any support in class, so there was nothing else she could think of 'to do with him'. angry (There was a lot more to it and I was very distressed afterwards.) I happened to be meeting wiht the inclusion boss a couple of days later and related the conversation to her. She said it was unacceptable, inappropriate and downright misinformation, not to mention inappropriate lines of communication. The inclusion boss has since been working very closely with the new SENCO and the teacher concerned hadn't spoken to me since, in fact it has seemed like she was actively avoiding me - until today. I now wonder whether the inclusion boss raised it with the SENCO, so the teacher has been 'spoken to'.

That said, this isn't the first time, there have been several of these occurrences throughout the year and each time I come away either shaking or in tears, which is very unlike me, but I have honestly never experienced such aggression and hostility before in my life. I now dread picking ds1 up from school because of it.

So, after speaking to my Mum (seriously needed to speak to another adult to get some perspective) on her advice I called to speak to the Head. Unfortunately he was out at a meeting, but I've left a message for him to call me tomorrow.

Half of me thinks we only have four weeks left and I should just let it lie, but if I'm honest, that doesn't sit well. The teacher clearly has issues and I feel like if I don't say something she will just continue to do the same to some other poor parent next year.

Am I wasting my time speaking to the Head? What should I say? I'm worrying now about how to handle the telephone conversation so that I don't sound like an over emotional, paranoid parent. I have honestly never been anything but helpful, polite and full of praise and thanks for this teacher, so I know it its nothing I've done, but I do know she has really struggled to understand and cope with ds, despite having lots of support from EPs, Inclusion and even ASD training.

I was thinking of telling the Head that I don't want to make a formal complaint, but that I want it noted that I'm not happy to be treated like that. I thought I should point out that I have always got on well with every single member of staff in the school - through two ds's over a span of six years at the school and its not in my nature to over-react or complain, but that I am concerned that if she can do it to me and get away with it, she is likely to do it to another parent in the future.

I am going to have to say something now, as he's going to call me back tomorrow, but I'm worried that I don't have a clear idea of what he can do about it really.

Any advice?

Al1son Wed 22-Jun-11 18:54:39

I wouldn't try to say all this over the phone. I'd call the school tomorrow morning and arrange a time to meet the head.

You don't have to have a clear idea of what he can do. All you need to do is relate your experience to him and leave him to deal with it.

I think you're right that this teacher will do it again to other parents if you don't report it and get it dealt with.

It feel horrible when you are at loggerheads with someone who is caring for your child.

BialystockandBloom Wed 22-Jun-11 19:02:35

She clearly has no idea about ASD, despite her training.

Would definitely formally say something - the school need to be aware of this and buck up their ideas about what is adequate training, and that they need to make a lot more effort to understand the nature of SEN, in particular ASD.

Also comfort yourself that ds only has a few more weeks with her.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 22-Jun-11 19:14:01

I would try and speak to the Head face to face rather than on the phone.

Calmly state the facts of what happened today, that is all you can really do.

The teacher acted completely wrongly. Part of the problem here (and it is no excuse or justification) is that again these people do not have any teacher training of any substance when it comes to special needs generally, let alone ASD.

BTW how are you getting on with regards to DS's statement application?.

moosemama Wed 22-Jun-11 19:18:19

Thank you so much for reading all that and replying - I really needed to let it out.

The thing is, I think the school already know, all the other professionals involved with ds certainly seem aware that this teacher just can't 'get it' when it comes to ASD.

The whole school has had some really good ASD training, very recently - delivered by ds's inclusion teacher and her boss and I've been told, confidentially by another professional, that this particular teacher has been through similar training in the past (a long time ago though). She honestly just doesn't seem to be able to take it on board.

I would prefer to see him face to face, but know that he's hard to pin down and I don't want the fire to have gone out of my belly by the time I get to speak to him, iyswim.

I was just starting to settle down to demob status and feel like we just need to try and coast through the next four weeks and then we get six weeks of no school hassles before having to start over with another teacher - then this. She hasn't spoken to me for probably about a month, has passed messages through other teachers and obviously avoided me in the playground. I'd just decided that I wasn't going to have to deal with her again and started to let my guard down and relax a little when collecting ds when this happened.

moosemama Wed 22-Jun-11 19:25:19

Hi Attila, cross posted.

Dh is going to sit down with me tonight and we're going to write some notes for me to have in front of me when I do get to speak to the Head.

Statement application is coming along, slowly. The inclusion team have been fantastic and the new SENCO is really on board. We have decided to make sure we two purely social and communication related IEPs under our belt before the application goes it (the application process is ridiculously in-depth and asks for lots of evidence up front here) so we they have completed a full application and so have I and we've set a date at the beginning of next term to consolidate our separate applications into one water-tight one that will be submitted by me.

I'm not happy about the delay, but after lots of discussion with people very experienced in applying for statements from our LEA it does seem like the most sensible course of action if we are going to avoid them just throwing it straight back at us.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Wed 22-Jun-11 21:43:19

Hmm, this teacher obviously can't understand that your DS isn't being simply disobedient. I can imagine that she is phrasing a demand (for want of a better word) as a request and thinks your DS is rudely not complying. Eg 'Could you all put your homework in your book bags,' actually means 'Put your homework in your bookbag right now everyone, including you, mooseson.' He says, 'No thank you, I'd rather take it home tomorrow,' politely but firmly as he hears the request as optional and she goes off on one!

Is your DS in Y4? Is there any possibility that this teacher will move to Y6 at any point in the near future? If not, I'd have your meeting 'for the greater good' and breathe a sigh of relief! Some teachers seem to forget that while they like to be in control in the classroom, they cannot talk to parents in the same way! Lack of empathy and poor social skills, where have I heard that before?

moosemama Wed 22-Jun-11 22:22:44

Yes Ellen, he's in year 4 at the moment. I don't think she's likely to be given the class again, but ds2 could well end up with her when he hits year 4 the year after next. I have to say, that worries more than a little.

Dh says exactly the same thing about lack of empathy and poor social skills, in fact the first thing he said after we met her for the first time, was that he thought she was probably on the spectrum as well as ds and she's not done much to disprove the theory. If its not that then there's definitely something else going on.

The daft thing is, I know she has tried really hard to be inclusive and to try to understand how to deal with him, its like she just can't get her head around it no matter how hard she tries. She has listened to the advice she's been given by professionals and tried to implement it, but without being able to see/think about things from ds's perspective and really getting to grips with understanding how the mind of someone who has ASD works, there are new things almost every day that she either misreads or doesn't know how to handle.

The thing is, regardless of whether she has worked hard to try and support ds, I feel she shouldn't be allowed to go round ranting and confronting parents in the playground like that. This time, fortunately, we were only there with the last few stragglers, but on previous occasions she's done it in front of all the junior school parents - and I mean all, as I have to pick ds up practically at the door for him to find me, so all the other parents are basically stood facing us waiting for their dcs. In addition, it angers me that she has obviously labelled ds as 'disobedient' 'defiant' and 'rude' (all her words) when she should have learned by now that that's simply not the case. She basically accuses me of making excuses for him, when in reality he is just badly behaved. angry

Oh god - and we have to start all over again with a new teacher in September. Ds has told me the new teacher's name today, I've never met her, but I observed her teaching her current class in the playground yesterday and from what I saw, it doesn't looking good. sad I could have just seen her on a bad day though - she might be lovely. [hopeful]

scartette Wed 22-Jun-11 23:10:11

She sounds like she just cant get it no matter how hard she tries! -You really need to see head face to face bout this . Dont worry if he cant see you tomorrow -the fire will still be in your belly when the time comes round. Feelings as strong as this dont die away easily.

moosemama Wed 22-Jun-11 23:16:27

Thank you scartette.

I am starting to veer towards ringing and booking an appointment instead, not least of all because I hate not knowing when he's going to call and I don't want to be unprepared for the call.

scartette Thu 23-Jun-11 14:12:05

Moosemama, can you let us know what happens when you meet head?

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 23-Jun-11 14:40:45

Good luck with it, moose. I'd forgotten about DS2 coming through. sad

moosemama Thu 23-Jun-11 15:59:18

Well the Head asked the SENCO to call me instead as he was out today. She left a message while I was out - despite me telling them I wouldn't be home at that time.

I thought she might try to catch me at pick up, but there was no sign of her.

I don't think its a SEN matter and therefore don't want to discuss it with the SENCO. She is one of three Assistant Heads, but her remit is Assistant Head for Inclusion.

moosemama Thu 23-Jun-11 17:27:37

I am so crap. She just rang and I wasn't expecting it with it being so late, so I ended up relating the whole sorry story to her. <<slaps self across face>>

On the positive side, she agreed that the behaviour was unacceptable and that I had a valid complaint, which she will pass on to the Head tomorrow. She also said that I have been very measured in my responses to this teacher and not at all unreasonable, so at least she doesn't think I'm a moaning minnie or a trouble maker - hopefully.

I suppose its their move now - I'll have to wait and see what tomorrow brings. The teacher concerned isn't normally in on a Friday, but sod's law would have it that she seems to be scheduled to teach ds's class last session tomorrow afternoon for some unknown reason. hmm

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 23-Jun-11 17:46:45

Well, at least she persevered and got through to you, even if you'd have preferred to have talked to the head. Perhaps the school feel it is an inclusion problem if a teacher doesn't know how to deal with a child with SEN. Though I suppose it was more that she didn't deal with you very well? Or that you have a good relationship with the SENCo, so might prefer to deal with her? Anyway, hope it gets resolved somehow.

moosemama Thu 23-Jun-11 18:56:51

Apparently the Head was just concerned that I was obviously upset about something, knew he wasn't in at all today and didn't want to leave it unaddressed. So I don't have a problem with that.

She was lovely actually. Its only the second time I've spoken to her as she's new, but I'm very impressed with everything she's said/done so far. I was so shocked when she called me so late in the day, definitely extra brownie points to her for making sure she got through to me.

Am feeling a bit more positive about next year now I know she'll be in charge of SEN at the school. It validates my gut feeling that the Head is taking the SEN issue seriously and is keen to improve things in that department.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 23-Jun-11 19:17:54

That sounds more positive. Don't let one crappy teacher spoil what's looking like a much improved school relationship. Remember, that y5 teacher has a class full of nearly y6's who are on the wind down. Teachers always seem to lose a bit of respect come 'after the exams.' The kids are ready for next year.

moosemama Thu 23-Jun-11 19:31:23

That's what I thought about the year 5 teacher - I actually saw her again this morning, taking her class into school and she seemed ok, although another mum was telling me at drop off this morning that she's known for being a bit 'severe'.

I think they will always pick the strictest teachers for ds's class though, because of one or two pupils that have behavioural issues. I don't think that's a bad thing as far as ds is concerned, obviously a teacher who runs a tight ship and sticks to the rules she's laid down will do far better with him than one who is inconsistent. As long as she's willing to learn about, take on board and handle the 'ASD factor' appropriately, it doesn't really matter how strict she is.

scartette Thu 23-Jun-11 21:52:15

Thats positive news Moosemama even if you were psyched up for seeing head etc. Sounds like they on your side and taking it seriously.
Keep us posted tomorrow-feel like I'm going through this with you.

hannahsmummsy Mon 27-Jun-11 20:25:13

you have been so lovely to me on my thread I had no idea you were going through all thisxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxI had a lovely time in clacton and composed a 10 page rant to the school extract as follows ; hopefuly mrs x educational pcy has a magic wand where dd learns basic social skills with no extra funding from the schools pitifull sen budget ,(douby school will listern ) but feel so much better putting it in writingxxxxxx how dare the teacher speack to you like that , like having asd child isnt enough already. you are any amaxing lady moosemammaxxxx

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