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Which subject gets the most parental complaints?

(25 Posts)
Whowantstogotothepark Thu 13-Feb-20 11:17:32

I have moved outside my main subject, which to be honest is not generally on the parental radar until A-level and then they don't understand it. So, for 10 years I have had a relatively complaint-free existence (ish!).

Now, I am teaching maths to year 7. Woh! Lots of complaints. But they are all that it is too easy. I would get that, but they are up to speed with other classes and the curriculum. It's not like I am teaching times tables while the others are doing calculus.

(Although in my mind, I would take a complaint of too easy over too hard - based on many years experience of students going into block mode in science when they don't understand something. Going too fast is much more damaging than too slow and differentiation is an art at times!)

My friend who works in management says that maths and english teachers are the ones who get it the most. And maths was the subject that she had to mediate the most.

OP’s posts: |
LoonyLunaLoo Thu 13-Feb-20 11:42:31

There’s a lot of crossover between the year 6 and year 7 maths curriculum since the new primary curriculum came out so I guess parents are wondering why their children seem to be learning the same thing again.

noblegiraffe Thu 13-Feb-20 15:16:26

And as a maths teacher I head off that sort of complaint ‘we did this in primary school’ by making sure the kids know that I know that they did it in primary school, and that we’re doing it again for a reason.

At the moment I’m teaching them fractions. They’ve done fractions, and actually they’re pretty good at it. But they still needed a reminder, because it’s been a while and they’re a bit rusty. So I tell them this. And when we’re doing it, I focus on making sure that they are laying their working out correctly, not skipping steps, teaching them tricks like cross cancelling before multiplying and other methods for mixed numbers that they haven’t seen, so they aren’t just totally bored.

Also when we’re revisiting topics, that’s when I tend to make my starters unrelated to the topic, like tricky puzzles so they’re still seeing something new each lesson.

It’s really hard teaching out of your subject area!

Piggywaspushed Thu 13-Feb-20 15:32:04

As an ex HOY , I fielded most complaints and queries about science, MFL and PE. This was followed by maths. English was less prevalent but that seems to have skyrocketed in the last few years.

Whowantstogotothepark Thu 13-Feb-20 15:32:56

Thanks for the tips nobel. I have been trying a bit of that but not as explicitly.

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Thu 13-Feb-20 16:16:32

Y7’s a funny year. It’s all ‘we did this in primary’. From Y8 onwards, you can say ‘you should know this as we did it last year’ and they’ll swear down that they’ve never seen it before in their life. hmm

phlebasconsidered Thu 13-Feb-20 21:48:05

The new year 6 maths curriculum covers practically all the current year 7 one. My year 6's know how add, subtract, divide and multiply mixed fractions in a variety of ways, plus now we are moving onto algebra. They can convert to decimals and percentages, work out ratio and proportion and use formal and informal methods for all 4 ops innpositive and negative integers, including quick methods like dividing using factors. They can express remainders as de imals or fractions and complete multi-step problems involving more than one operation. I use a corbett maths year 8 book for my stretch students. A lot of the year 6 objectives are year 7 objectives.

Having taught both secondary and primary, i'd say a lot of work needs to be done to ensure curriculum is fit for purpose whilst allowing for die back over Summer / post sats and a change from maths every day ( my class has 1.45 hrs of maths every day right now) to far less. My friend still teaches secondary and I gave her last years sats papers. She was pretty gobsmacked at them. My greater depth mathematicians last year were completing foundation level papers. And i'm not in a lovely area and have a very average and below cohort.

A major factor is the sheer effort I put into hammering maths into them. Lots have lunch or after school intervention with me and without a doubt, some of those kids who scrape the sats lose the information as soon as they stop doing primary maths every day. Doing it every day makes a major difference to retention. I don't have a choice - I am judged on their results!

That said, I know every class will swear blind they haven't ever seen a fraction, every year.

noblegiraffe Thu 13-Feb-20 22:23:43

And they’ll be doing fractions every year! Spiral curriculum, just a little bit harder every time.

Some parents are too quick to assume incompetence on the part of the school or teacher.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 13-Feb-20 22:32:42

The new year 6 maths curriculum covers practically all the current year 7 one.

And you can get at least half marks (a solid 3) on GCSE Foundation Maths papers using the primary curriculum alone (and that is interpreting it strictly - a little common sense in the interpretation of specific graphs, and a basic understanding of probability, and you would probably be looking at a 4)

I am not entirely sure that the majority of secondary schools have fully adapted their KS3 schemes of work to take into account the changes in primary Maths - our local ones haven't, certainly. it was reasonable not to change in 2015 / 16, when the Y7s would only have had a year of the new primary curriculum. However, to still be teaching relatively unchanged KS3 schemes of work in 2019 / 20 does seem to me to be a recipe for disengaged pupils, just at a point when they are getting a taste for the new exciting subjects they are taught by specialists for for the first time in secondary (DT, new MFL, Science in labs, Drama, Music...) and where the amount of Maths they do each week is reduced.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 13-Feb-20 22:44:17

I like the sound of what noble does - being absolutely explicit about revision and the reasons for it. Neighbouring secondary to where I work seem genuinely utterly unaware of the scope of the new primary curriculum...and are currently interpreting boredom/ disengagement as 'not having been taught this before', so are going e-v-e-n s-l-o-w-e-r....

dootball Fri 14-Feb-20 00:18:38

It's a tricky thing to judge as a secondary teacher. Over the last 10 years there has definitely been an improvement in some areas , and fractions is certainly 1, however others have really suffered, such as MMMR, where most Y7 students are fairly clueless, compared to a few years ago where these skills used to be expected.

phlebasconsidered Fri 14-Feb-20 06:35:52

The current year 5 are also the first yo have been tables tested - I am expecting this to make a difference to their mental calculation speed.

My year 6 are very quick mentally now - for the arithmetic paper - but it's taken a long time to get them faster. I still get 6's who do not know their tables and hopefully this will improve now.

I still think too much is left to year 6. Formal methods need to be introduced earlier and I think the emphasis on faffing around with pv counters lower down has made bugger all impact. I still have to spend ages focusing on reasoning written questions. Too many classes lower down think reasoning = manipulatives but it's the written understanding and vocabulary I need!

I could write a book about why kids hate maths in this country. Third Space is brilliant, and bits of WRM, but there's a lot of tosh about. Maths No Problem kids are going to be a real problem for secondaries I think.

AnnDaloozier Fri 14-Feb-20 06:38:50

I have a lot to do with year 7. It’s not subjects. It’s friends. Bloody friends.

Oneliner Fri 14-Feb-20 06:52:32

Make it harder.

phlebasconsidered Fri 14-Feb-20 12:48:42

Ann - in year 6 too! I could spend all day dealing with bloody fall outs between girls. It drives me insane.

Piggywaspushed Fri 14-Feb-20 15:19:46

Make what harder??

Quadrangle Fri 14-Feb-20 16:43:31

Do you have setting? If so, could they be angling for their child to move up a set?

cantkeepawayforever Fri 14-Feb-20 18:02:12

Phlebas, when does your school introduce formal written methods?

The National Curriculum specifies Y3 for formal written addition and subtraction. The non-statutory guidance mentions formal multiplication and division in that year as well, and in Y4 they should be 'practising to make this fluent' (though in some schools these two are introduced in Y4, because it ties in better with the Y4 focus on multiplication tables and related division facts.)

Long multiplication is introduced in Y5 in the NC.

Only long division, and multiplication that involves decimals, are introduced 'new' in Y6. If you are feeling that too much is left to Y6, perhaps it might be worth looking at your calculation policy against the NC statements?

cantkeepawayforever Fri 14-Feb-20 18:07:28

It's a tricky thing to judge as a secondary teacher.

Why? The National curriculum for mathematics is a published document, and even if individual Y7 teachers may not have read it, I would expect those who have put together the KS3 programme of study to have looked at it in detail and made sure that the secondary planning dovetails properly with the KS2 curriculum.

It's quite easy to see from the NC - I would say 'new' NC, but it has been in place since September 2014, which seems quite long enough for secondaries to have reviewed their planning - that only the mean is covered in Y6. Mode, median etc are no longer on the primary curriculum (last taught in July 2014), and equally the primary curriculum no longer contains any probability.

i agree that it can be difficult, even having read the NC in real detail, to know how well pupils can APPLY their knowledge in different contexts, and also to work out how much of the initial 'Ummm....' is due to the longer than usual summer break and transition. But it really ISN'T difficult to look art the primary curriculum and work out what is and is not covered!

worstofbothworlds Fri 14-Feb-20 21:18:52

@noblegiraffe as a University lecturer, plus ca change.. all our first years complain they've done all this (their coursework doesn't bear this out) and in 2 nd year onward it's all MAGICALLY BRAND NEW.
I did have the satisfaction of telling some third years "you've done this before I know" and then "but have any of you heard of this?" and one said "I did it at A level".
So keep at it, some of them will remember, eventually!

MattersofFaith Fri 14-Feb-20 21:33:18

I'll put an honourable word in for Reception. I totally get that it is such a change from nursery- our feeder nursery allows parents in whenever they like and post hourly updates on Tapestry- but they will phone and 'just catch you at the door' for everything and anything...

grafittiartist Fri 14-Feb-20 21:39:16

Food always seems to be moaned about. Not sure about direct complaints, but everyone has an opinion. PE probably similar I guess.

leccybill Sat 15-Feb-20 00:08:16

I'm a Head of MFL and we get a lot of 'my dad says what will I ever need French for anyway' and notes to get out of speaking tests because their children feel 'pressurised' (hello, resilience?!)

LolaSmiles Sun 16-Feb-20 05:49:14

As a tutor I get the most complains about MFL, usually in y9 when they want to drop it at GCSE but probably won't be able to.

In English we tend to get complaints about text choices, usually that their child has already read the text so obviously they have mastered the whole half term's work before it's been set, or the parent doesn't approve of the entirely appropriate ks3 text choices.

Surreyhillsbutnobike Sun 16-Feb-20 07:31:11

Sport, why isnt he in the team, why arent there more matches.

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