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Handling a colleague who has been foul to my daughter.

(10 Posts)
Roseformeplease Thu 13-Feb-14 12:35:09

I work in a very small secondary school also attended by my children. This is not really a choice as the nearest other school is an unreasonable distance away (Scottish Islands). One department (Maths) is appalling and was recently beefed up by the additional appointment of an NQT to improve results. He is convinced of his own brilliance and that his way is the best way, probably because, in comparison to the other teacher, he is at least competent and in control of discipline.

Both my children are taught by this new(ish) teacher. My children are in First Year and Third Year. Both are very bright (aren't they always) and, while Maths is in sets, the numbers mean that their classes are still very, very mixed ability.

After much angst, my DD1 did her exam at the end of S2 (GCSE equivalent) not because we believe in early exams but it was the only way of getting the teacher to push her any harder. Up to that point my DD1 was coming home in tears, angry and upset about being bored and ignored.

Fast forward to the start of this year. DD1 now has a top grade and needs to move on to the next course. She is in a class who are very mixed in ability but where they all follow the traditional 3rd year course -no differentiation at all. The Head suggests that DD come out of the class and teach herself in the library. She is now moving on to Higher (AS Level) work. We argue that she should be taught alongside her friends and, anyway, the class only has 12 pupils in it so the teacher could easily provide work / support at different levels. It is agreed that DD will do this and will NOT sit any exams this year because she needs a top grade and it is agreed that she will continue to work at her own level.

DD gets no support at all in class. Nothing is explained at all. She never has anything marked. She has spent the whole year just working through a text book on her own, albeit in a class of her friends. Last week the teacher announced that DD would be sitting a final assessment along with the older pupils but "I am springing it on you as a surprise - it will be on Monday". I immediately saw the Head and she said, "Don't worry, she doesn't have to do it. I will talk to the teacher." Monday rolls around and DD is handed the paper to do.

(Up to this point the teacher has NEVER marked anything she has done so has no idea of how she is getting on and DD is becoming very, very insecure about her own ability because the work is HARD and she is doing it on her own).

DD said she wasn't doing it and that her Mum and Dad knew as did the Head. At this point, the teacher started shouting at her, calling her "Lazy" in front of the whole class - all of whom already see her as different because she does much harder Maths.

The Maths teacher then raised this in the staffroom and, when I challenged her about using the word, "Lazy" and told himn that he had never marked anything or given any teaching or help or support. She stormed out.

The Head is now looking terrified whenever I go near her, although I am getting some pleasure in going to see her about entirely unrelated things.

(DD2 has the same teacher but we are now giving up and getting her tutoried outside school - no homework, no extra work given when asked for, no new material all year).

Where do we go next? Do we complain to the Head about the teacher or is our complaint really with the Head not doing as she said and speaking to the teacher. The teacher is clearly not doing his job but then the Head has done nothing for either of our daughters in spite of repeated verbal and written complaints. FWIW I have tried hard to maintain a cordial relationship in the staffroom but that is now gone.

Where next?

amistillsexy Thu 13-Feb-14 12:42:22

I think you are on dodgy ground because you work with this maths teacher and need to keep a professional distance in order to keep your working relationships intact.

I would pass this over to DH to deal with-talk about it at home, of course, but let him ring the HT, come in for meetings, chase it all up, etc.

I would also avoid listening to, or looking for any 'evidence' that you could only find out because you're in the building, IYSWIM. When at school, behave as if your DCs are just another couple of kids, otherwise you'll never get a moment's peace!

neolara Thu 13-Feb-14 12:44:10

Blimey. There seems to be so many issues going on. Firstly, that whole the maths department is so crap. That the head is reluctant to sort out the poor performance of the maths department. That the NQT may not have a suitable person from which to develop his teaching skills. The NQT is not doing his job properly by not differentiating, marking or indeed doing any teaching of some of the kids in his class. That the NQT spoke inappropriately to your dd. That there was poor communication between the NQT and the head. That the head does not respond appropriately to complaints.

I guess the thing to work out is what do you actually want to happen. Is the ultimate goal that you want your dd to be appropriately taught? Or do you want the NQT to apologise to your dd? Or do you want the head to step up to discipline your dd.

What you do will be determined by what you want to main outcome to be.

NigellasDealer Thu 13-Feb-14 12:47:05

would hand it to your husband to deal with as suggested.

zipzap Thu 13-Feb-14 12:47:11

What would you do if you weren't a teacher at the school?

I'm guessing that you would have complained long before now.

This incident sounds like it is a 'useful' one in so far as you can use it to hang a formal complaint on - and d bring in any other associated issues to back up your complaint, whereas before it might have been quite a woolly complaint.

If it was happening to one of your friend's dc, you wouldn't have any hesitation in telling them to go to the head I'm sure.

I'd make the complaint, acknowledge it is difficult as you are all colleagues but that this has actually meant that you have tried to avoid formalising the complaint in the hope that it would get better informally but that hasn't worked. Thus a formal complaint is needed.

And reassure your head that you'll only speak to her about the complaint in a scheduled meeting about it once you have had enough fun watching her jump whenever you are near...

Roseformeplease Thu 13-Feb-14 18:43:59

My DH has essentially given up. He thinks we should just get tuition and keep school entirely out of the loop as nothing is ever done. We have asked for meetings, extra work, results of tests. We have tried everything. DH does lead on everything but he also works with the school (not a teacher)

What do I want out of it? I suppose, unrealistically, I want my children to have their Maths work set, marked and differentiated to allow them to learn. We are now looking at £29 per hour for online Maths tuition x 2 children x 4 weeks which means, until the children leave school (or there is a new teacher) we will be very, very short of money. What I would prefer is for there to be oversight of the teacher so he is forced to do his job.

I find incompetent teachers make me so angry and this, coupled with the fact that it is such a vital subject, is making me stressed and upset.

zipzap Thu 13-Feb-14 20:16:25

I'd write the letter. You're not helping your colleague by letting him get away with this.

If your dh has given up then it is worth one last go at least. This time maybe copy it to the governors, and put the plan down that you would like to happen. Even if you have to look at your dd's maths textbook and say that you want her to have homework on chapter 1 set in week 1, on chapter 2 in week 2, etc and a 10 minute session once a week that she gets to discuss her current maths questions with the teacher, etc etc. And that you want this reviewed weekly/monthly/half termly to start with (baring floods, norovirus or other such nasties). And that you will be prepared to follow it up with a complaint to OFSTED if nothing comes of this again.

Do you know if any other parents are hacked off with this teacher in the same way that you are and that he is failing other kids too? Might be worth talking to them and seeing if they will also complain and get something going...

Failing all that - can you now request unannounced OFSTED inspections for particularly bad aspects of a school. COuld do that anonymously...

cansu Thu 13-Feb-14 20:45:12

I think you have created this scenario by putting your dd in for her exam a year early. This has then meant she is doing AS level maths in a GCSE group. I would imagine it is quite difficult to teach a mixed ability GCSE class and try to teach a student advanced maths in the same lesson. Even if a student is talented they need input. The teacher is probably v frustrated that they have been put in this situation by you and the head. The fact that your dd is refusing to sit tests that the rest of the class are doing and is contradicting the teacher by saying my mum and the head say I don't have to do it is probably quite unhelpful when trying to maintain good discipline. Perhaps you need to look at this from another perspective?

neolara Thu 13-Feb-14 23:40:59

If you want your dd's books set, marked and differentiated, you have already discussed both with the teacher and head teacher to no avail, then now is the time to put in a formal complaint to the governors. I'm a governor and frankly, if this was going on in my school, I'd be bloody furious and want to know what was going on.

Roseformeplease Fri 14-Feb-14 15:15:07

Cansu - this was unavoidable, given the size of the school (approximately 20 pupils per year) and was the solution promoted by the Head Teacher. In any class, there should be differentiation so that pupils are sitting tests at their own level. This is less of an issue in a large school where there are sets so pupils are usually of broadly similar ability but is most often seen at Primary where different "tables" are often at completely different levels. It is something I have to manage in my own classroom with exactly the same group of children so I know it can be done. Also, no pupil, however difficult for the teacher, should be just left to work through a textbook with nothing being marked and no feedback.

The tests are not the same as the rest of the class (who are doing more normal 3rd year Maths). but part of the final exam which we had agreed she would not be doing this year - just doing some of the work. (Hard to explain - Scottish system). We had been told she would NOT be doing the exam this year but she was suddenly given a test to do which is a part of the final assessment.

What I have done is submitted a list of questions to the Head (which I suspect have been forwarded to the Maths teacher if his face was anything to go by this morning!). They are as neutral as possible and ask things like: What are her strengths? What are her areas of weakness? What sort of marks / grades is she getting on her work?
What homework is being set? How much homework should she be doing each week? If she is to sit the exam this year what would her predicated grade be? Where is the evidence of her achieving at this grade. There are similar for DD2 but more about her constant requests for extra, harder work being turned down (which she would do at home). zipzap, I like the idea of having a "work plan" and will suggest that in the meeting which should follow the letter.

FWIW - my children both report that she spends most of the lessons sitting on her computer "working".

Sadly, there are no "governors" here in Scotland. There is a Parent Forum which is fairly toothless and then there is the Council. We can't call on OFSTEAD (or HMIE as we have here) so the frustrations are also about the fact that there seems to be no solution at all, no matter how loudly we shout.

Thanks all for the help. I am off for a few days now (holidays) and will be able to put the thing out of my mind a bit because I have put the ball back in the Head's court.

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