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Parent looking for some advice - please be gentle(15 Posts)
I’m looking for perspective from teachers please as I’m not sure whether to approach my sons’ school or not - I am afraid of making the situation worse. It’s very personal and complex so please bear with and I’ll try and explain the best I can.
I have two children at the school, both have additional needs. Prior to Covid 19 I had an excellent relationship with the school, was always very supportive and spoke up in support of the school at meetings that were sometimes negative, (staff thanked me afterwards for my support). They were extremely supportive of me and my children during a traumatic time (DV) and have been wonderful with my children’s additional needs.
When Lockdown happened, school were reluctant to take my children as keyworker children because I would be sometimes at home sometimes out the home - if I was at home they didn’t want them in school but I didn’t know when I would be out or home so I needed them to be in school. I also have mental health issues (I’m under the CMHT).
I was under pressure from my employer to be available for shifts (I’m a care worker) and I felt very stuck in the middle. There were some difficult and tense phone calls and emails and in the end my employer got directly involved and the school agreed to take the children.
Ever since then I feel like the fantastic relationship I had with the school has been badly damaged and I don’t know how to fix it. Since then staff I have seen have been friendly but also seem on guard, it may not just be with me but I’m obviously feeling sensitive to it.
It’s further complicated by the fact that I have an extremely traumatic history with my own school as a child. I was raped by a teacher and the school attempted to cover it up and expelled me instead. It did all come out eventually and the police uncovered it all, but obviously that has a HUGE impact on how I relate to schools, teachers etc.
I have worked SO HARD to build a positive relationship with my children’s school, it has been emotionally very draining and difficult for me but I felt it was SO important.
I am worried that they now all hate me, see me as difficult, or think I don’t give a shit about them. When I do need to speak to them about my children I have to really force myself as I feel scared to do so, I feel like I need to apologise before I even start for the inconvenience.
I sent an email to the school a few weeks back thanking them for everything they are doing, praising the excellent work their class teachers have been setting and responding to.
How on earth do I fix this? The one member of staff who still seems to genuinely be happy to see me is the home-school link worker. She knows me really well, my mental health and my school past. Would it be worth me trying to approach this with her?
I don’t want to make it all worse.
Personally I would leave it for now. You don't know what else the teachers have had to put up with from other parents. So just give it time for the dust to settle.
Speak to the home link teacher if you want but do not say Miss XYZ does not appear as friendly as she used to. Miss XYZ is probably stressed and pre-occupied with the whole bubble return scenario and everything that entails.
Just so long as your children are happy that is the main thing
That sounds really stressful and I can see you are worried about it.
However, I think it’s likely that the perceived distance and staff being on guard may be due to other circumstances. I’ve been in teaching and I’ve been really anxious about it as I have a medically vulnerable toddler at home and I’m worried I will take the virus home to him. I’m trying my best to be normal and friendly but it’s possible I’m coming across slightly differently. This is nothing to do with the parents at all but instead my own human worries.
I’m also sure that the staff appreciated the email you sent, schools have come under a lot of criticism recently and it would have been very well received.
So in the kindest possible way, as someone who has had anxiety and also does this, it may not be about you. I think you should share your worries with the home school link worker as talking things through could really help and it sounds as though she is supportive.
Try not to worry.
I agree with the others. I'm sorry for what you have suffered but please don't allow it to colour your judgement.
You don't say how old your DC are. I work in a primary & a secondary school. I have been into both since lockdown. In both I am working with mixed-age groups. I am secondary trained but due to recent events, I have to spend an hour per week with KS1/FS which is completely out of my comfort zone. I find it much more stressful than working with rowdy year 9/10 boys. It may be that the teachers are also struggling with their own families, children they don't know very well and also having to set work for the remote learners.
Please don't take it personally. We are all stressed. Working at home is more demanding in all ways for me. I would love to be back in the banter-filled classroom that I love but I can't see that happening for a while. Keep smiling, keep thanking them and keep plugging away.
Since then staff I have seen have been friendly but also seem on guard, it may not just be with me but I’m obviously feeling sensitive to it.
Are you sure that staff don't seem more on guard due to social distancing etc? I feel like when I am in school I am coming across as more standoffish than usual, and there have been times when I have stepped back when e.g. a student has entered my space (older children, so I think this is acceptable). This isn't because I no longer like the students!
It sounds like a difficult situation all round and now probably isn't the best time to try and repair relationships because everyone is feeling a bit fraught and stressed.
Please try not to feel scared about talking to school staff! I am sure they wouldn't want you to feel that way!
Thank you everyone for your understanding and sensitive replies.
My children are 6 and 10 and are really struggling to adapt to all the changes - lots of tears and meltdowns at home and school.
I definitely do not want to add to anyone’s stress levels atm, I completely understand that all the staff are under huge pressure as well and this is almost certainly contributing to the situation.
It’s also definitely not about any particular member of staff - it’s the parent- school relationship that has suffered, not any particular member of staff.
Yeah, leave it for now.
Since then staff I have seen have been friendly but also seem on guard
That's because we're on guard. It's not you.
I think many of us, with mental health problems or not, are apt at times to completely misinterpret others' body language etc. We think it's something we've done or said, when in fact it's something completely different and nothing to do with us!
I think that's very likely to be the case here, as others have said. Don't worry OP.
The teachers will be on guard - it’s really hard remembering to stay 2m away, it’s really hard not touching your face, it’s really hard not shaking hands or touching surfaces. It’s really really not you, I am absolutely sure.
It genuinely won't be you, OP. Please don't give it any more thought. Schools and staff aren't petty and it won't have altered your relationship with them. You sound a great mother and have worked hard to build a good relationship with the school.
I imagine the issues at the beginning will have been because the first we as teachers and schools knew that we were closing was Boris announcing it to the nation. The guidance on key worker children/who to take etc was vague, open to interpretation and schools were struggling to know which children were entitled to places and worried about getting it right. It won't have been personal.
Once it was clarified that your DC were entitled to a place the staff will have been happy to have them - but everyone else is right. School and teaching has been stressful, confusing and all of us have our heads in various different places, due to our own particular personal circumstances.
Your email will have been really welcome - it was kind of you to take the time to thank staff. Honestly - your relationship will be just the same once we get adjusted back to our new normal.
I'm really sorry to hear about your own experience at school, that's absolutely horrendous. 😰
I am not currently teaching in the UK (I'm in Asia) but I can say that teachers are on edge all over the world... We are barley just holding things together, especially if we have kids ourselves...
Don't take anything personally right now at all.
Roll of the summer holidays when we can all have a break and let our minds reset. Holidays are usually really good for putting distance between issues at school, and this one will be needed more than ever before.
Try not to take it personally. It sounds like you were right to push for the place. I understand how you feel as I have been in a similar position with all kinds of professionals when dealing with my children's needs. Sometimes, you will disagree with them and that's OK. It is often the case when advocating for children with SEN that sometimes you will need to push for what is needed and teachers or LA or whoever may not either agree or be able to be seen to agree with you. Probably from the school POV, your children would need more support and therefore they would prefer them not to be in the key worker group. You can understand that but still advocate for them to be in that group. Remain friendly and assertive and move on. the situation had caused tensions between teachers and SMT, teachers and parents and even between teachers. I think it is pretty standard.
Absolutely don't take it personally. Because you have had a good relationship with them it might just be that you are not yet used to the hurried drop off and collections.
I have 2 sen dc and they are in on my working days as key-worker care - I let them know as far in advance as possible what days and add extras on as and when I am told about them. My school has been very good at accommodating this as I appreciate an additional 3 children from one family causes problems with existing groups etc.
But; of course even now there are times when importing information is needed but it's not acceptable under their current risk assessment to have that chat at the school gates like before. So we have a quick 'I will email you to let you know about X' and do it that way.
Stay in touch with the staff you have been via email or whatever school contact system you have been using - our use class dojo, and acknowledge in it that you don't expect an immediate reply as you know they will be busy, but you need to share A, B, C because of X, Y, Z.
If it's class stuff I do it through dojo, sen stuff I email and cc sendco in, or email sendco and cc teacher if it's something we've already discussed.
It might seem like overkill but it is really hard to give up that communication system when you have worked so hard to get it.
The thing is, at the moment everything in school is tense and difficult as we try to adapt to the situation around us. It's likely that you're picking up on the tension and thinking that it's personal. Be pleasant and friendly, thank them for their help when it's appropriate and just relax and try not to analyse things.
We're also being told not to get into long conversations with parents because this can be a risk, so possibly this is a factor too. Things will get back on an even keel eventually, nothing is "broken" it's just a difficult time now.
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