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To complain to teacher about state of DS'topic book

81 replies

startingafresh1 · 03/11/2018 08:00

DS is in Y7. His school went into special measures a year ago, after a bumpy road towards improvement it gained 2 new head teachers in July, became part of an academy and seems to be making good progress.

The mood is finally more optimistic, and the school emphasises that it encourages communication with parents.

DS has a physics exam on Monday.

It is on a topic that I think is quite complicated. One where you need a clear understanding of concepts, definitions etc..

I sat with DS last night as he asked me to test him. It quickly became apparent he was confused and had got his facts mixed up.

We got his book out and I found his work looked chaotic, was incomplete and factually incorrect in many places. For example he may have written a=B + c, which was completely wrong. Or that increasing something, decreases something else- but had his 'things' the wrong way round. Or he has mixed up and misused key terms.

I am sure that these are actual mistakes as I remember this topic from A level physics and have used google, and gcse bitesize to double check.

There was no sign that the book had been looked at or marked since the start of term. The book contains no worksheets- only written notes across 12 lessons for this topic. He has no text book.

The upshot is that he had spent about 2 hours learning factually incorrect physics.

DS is usually quite capable and engaged. He is in the upper set in maths, and this has automatically placed him in the top science set.

Maybe this is all too much for him, or maybe he is not concentrating. Either way I do feel that this should have been picked up on at school.

I would like to email his teacher. I'm actually quite annoyed, but I appreciate teaching is a really tough job and I don't want to be unreasonable.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

OP posts:
mybumpismostlypudding · 03/11/2018 08:09

I'm a primary teacher, so this isn't really my area, but if I expected children to revise from their notes I would definitely be checking they were correct first! Absolutely go in and ask, but not 'guns blazing' haha. Maybe go in to ask what your son is like in these lessons and what you could do to support his learning? Although I must admit I'd have a pretty dim view of their teaching at this point - either they haven't noticed that your son is struggling with his concentration to this extent, or they haven't done anything about it 

Smidge001 · 03/11/2018 08:09

I think it's a bit late to email the teacher now when the exam is on Monday. Is this the first time you've looked at his work?!

I think you're going to have to let him take (and fail/get poor marks in) the exam, and then get an appointment to speak to the teacher afterwards. It certainly sounds as if you have valid concerns.

Then be more proactive yourself by regularly looking at the rest of his work in other topics and see what else needs discussing with them.

TeenTimesTwo · 03/11/2018 08:11

I would buy a CGP KS3 Science Guide and use that for revision.

I would ask to see his other exercise books to see if there is similar issue there.

It may be he is having problems with note taking (it isn't a skill much developed in Primary).

Don't complain. If necessary enquire. 'I was looking at DS's book … disorganised … not marked (is that usual) … can you have a look too and give me your opinion'

startingafresh1 · 03/11/2018 08:13

Thank you for your responses bump and smidge.

I realise it's too late to do anything about it in time for the test. DS is using BBC bitesize and a printout he found online to re-revise the topic.

I guess letting him sit and fail the test might have given the teacher a useful
Message but I hadn't the heart to set DS up to fail.

I have taken a look at the rest of his exercise book- everything does look rather chaotic and unfinished. I'm not sure how much of it is factually incorrect as I can't remember that topic Blush.

OP posts:
startingafresh1 · 03/11/2018 08:14

Sorry to clarify: the rest of this exercise book is really disappointing. His other exercise books from different topics look ok.

OP posts:
mybumpismostlypudding · 03/11/2018 08:15

I'm with you, no point letting him revise from bad notes, he doesn't need to sit and fail the exam for the teacher to notice he's been struggling, you've got the book as evidence for that. I'd be doing the same thing

Kokeshi123 · 03/11/2018 08:15

Definitely approach the school and find out what is going on. It's not clear what is going on here, so you should check.

It sounds like you are going to have to be quite proactive about your son's learning--looking at books regularly and getting him his own textbooks and revision practice books so that he has correct stuff to revise from.

(God, I wish English schools would have proper textbooks that go home with the students daily....)

TeenTimesTwo · 03/11/2018 08:16

Talk to DC - what issues is he having in this subject with note taking.
Email teacher saying having problem X and can they help come up with solution.

startingafresh1 · 03/11/2018 08:16

Teentimestwo thanks for the great suggestions about how to phrase my email.

I don't want to be 'that parent' who has unrealistic expectations, nor to I want to go into battle.

I just think that these physics lessons are a bit pointless if DS has got everything muddled and confused.

OP posts:
Thisreallyisafarce · 03/11/2018 08:17

Chaotic and unfinished could be a sign of poor teaching, or it could be a sign of poor application to the work. If the teacher showed you three of four other books and you saw neat, completed work, would you still think the issue was with the teaching?

startingafresh1 · 03/11/2018 08:21

Thisreally I agree that this could be a problem related to DS. However, he's had about four weeks worth of lessons on this topic. I feel that the teacher should have noticed the issue, the incorrect statements etc..

OP posts:
lizzzyyliveson · 03/11/2018 08:21

It's not up to the OP to check other children's books. The school should have a system in place to do book scrutiny every half term. I would put your son's book in to the new heads and let them see whether any books in your son's class has been marked at all.

If you speak to the teacher, I bet the book will have lots of red ink on it by Tuesday!

Russell19 · 03/11/2018 08:21

As a primary teacher who has to mark over 120 books a day I find it frustrating that secondary teachers don't even mark once a week! I'd ask the school about the frequency of marking and if they recommend any other way to revise as your dc's misconceptions are not being addressed. To me this = really bad teaching.

TeenTimesTwo · 03/11/2018 08:24

I wouldn't expect a teacher to check quality of note taking. But I am sure if you flag it up they'll have a look.

Cachailleacha · 03/11/2018 08:25

Not all people can take notes well and listen at the same time. For some, copying from a board to their book is quite difficult and time consuming. I think students should have access to a textbook, photocopied notes, or online material to study from. I'd continue to use Bitesize or buy a textbook.

Notcontent · 03/11/2018 08:26

This is worrying and it’s definitely not up to the op to be checking this. Most parents have no idea about physics... It is a really complicated topic and taking notes would be hard.

startingafresh1 · 03/11/2018 08:26

Lizzy going straight to the new heads feels a bit harsh. It may be the best way to get things improved, but it feels underhand?

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startingafresh1 · 03/11/2018 08:29

I agree notcontent- I know this topic quite well so I realised something was amiss. I had to double check my facts though.

Many parents wouldn't pick up in the issue.

DS has diligently learned the incorrect facts, what a waste of time!

OP posts:
Cachailleacha · 03/11/2018 08:30

Just to add, my child's books look pretty bad, they have improved slowly but still look like the books of a child much younger. He does well in maths and science tests because he is very bright and remembers the material when he is taught it. For GCSE I will be making sure he has something other than his notes to study from though!

bookmum08 · 03/11/2018 08:30

I would of thought this is a test not an exam (he will have only been at the school for half a term) so it will be a 'how are they getting along' thing. If he does 'badly' then it will be a sign to the teacher he hasn't understood - by his notes it seems he hasn't. Surely this will be good for your son as it will show where he needs help or perhaps changing classes.

RabbityMcRabbit · 03/11/2018 08:32

Are you sure his teacher has been in school? If his teacher has been off sick that could explain the state of the book...

RabbityMcRabbit · 03/11/2018 08:34

@Russell19 how do you know all secondary teachers don't mark?! I never bloody stop marking!


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FourEyesGood · 03/11/2018 08:37

As a primary teacher who has to mark over 120 books a day I find it frustrating that secondary teachers don't even mark once a week!

Yeah, we just sit around chillin’.

startingafresh1 · 03/11/2018 08:41

I've checked with DS and his teacher has not been off.

OP posts:
Thisreallyisafarce · 03/11/2018 08:42

You need to look at the school marking policy, OP.

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