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In agreeing with my daughter that this isn't fair?

31 replies

Eliza2 · 20/06/2007 09:21

This will probably sound like a storm in a teacup, but thanks for letting me sound off about something that has really upset my daughter.

During my children's years at state primary school I have never once commented on their inclusion or otherwise on various sports teams. I have just bitten my lip and explained to the children that life is sometimes unfair.

Until yesterday.

Here's the background. My daughter is a tiny, skinny thing. Very little upper body strength but she is fast and coordinated. Last year, then a year two, she competed on an athletics team against year three girls (because the school didn't have enough y3s). She won skipping and jumping. I was really proud of her grit. It was a scorching hot day and the older girls were much bigger than her.

This year she is the only girl on the team to have been given just one event--throwing the ball! She is really upset and can't understand why other girls have been given the events she won last year. I don't think she's become any less able in the last year.

Both the other girls chosen to do the skipping and jumping are a lot bigger than her so I'd imagine they'd be able to wham that ball much farther.

Because my daughter was crying about this (very rare) I had a word with the teacher involved, who is a bit disorganised and didn't even keep a list of who'd competed in what last year and the results. She says she'll do a run/jump-off next week to see how my daughter does. But I'm worried she'll forget (she is a bit bad at remembering things) so I wrote a reminder on the permission slip.

I'm sure she thinks I'm being a pushy middle-class mother. My children have no problem about not being chosen if there are better people available but they really struggle when they think there's some engineering going on. Or just bad admin.

OP posts:

Soph73 · 20/06/2007 09:44

It does seem a bit unfair to me. Did the teacher give any reasons for her not being included?


Eliza2 · 20/06/2007 09:48

Soph73no, she didn't really have a reason. She was away during one of the training sessions and has had a family bereavementanother reason why I don't want to come across too heavy.

I think it's just lack of organisation. I understand the time constraints.

OP posts:

Soph73 · 20/06/2007 11:03

I think the best thing you could do is to try and find out when this run/jump off is and when you drop your daughter at school double-check that she´s actually been included in it. I understand time-constraints as dh is Senior Teacher in a secondary school but there´s no harm in making your point of view be heard, especially as she competed last year and did very well.


hockeypuck · 20/06/2007 11:06

My first thought was that maybe she wasn't chosen because she won last year, but you say the teacher didn't have a clue who won what last year?

I'm hoping that she's just been missed off the list, in which case, you're doing the right thing by reminding her scatty teacher.

Hope it goes well.


Eliza2 · 20/06/2007 14:57

Thanks, hockeypuck, for the support. I know all this doesn't rank that highly in the great scheme of human woe but sometimes these things just give children the blues.

OP posts:

Wisteria · 20/06/2007 15:04

YANBU - if she's passed over now for no reason she may begin to hate competition/ teams/ sport in general it may affect her willingness to compete in the future, although I'm sure you wouldn't allow that to happen x


Quattrocento · 20/06/2007 15:10

Well at my d's school they have swimming trials for the swimming club. Only two from each class were INVITED to go to swimming trials in year 3. Once there, if they get the times then they can get into the club. They didn't invite my DD to go to trials even though DD is a fab little swimmer.

She was hurt and upset - I was so sure she was good enough - she was so sure she was good enough - I agonised just like you are doing now - then I asked if she could just be allowed to the trials to see if she was quick enough. Turns out it was a total oversight, disorganised teachers, blah blah, she aced the times at the trials and got in ahead of lots of others who were invited and has been a mainstay of the club (and team) every since...

If you feel it's right it probably is right


Eliza2 · 20/06/2007 17:59

Thank you, Wisteria and Quattrocento (interesting parallels, Quattrocento!). You're making me feel I'm not just being a pushy mother. I'd hate her to feel there was no point putting herself forward for sport because nobody ever took a good past performance into account.

OP posts:

fryalot · 20/06/2007 18:04

I thought the same as Hockeypuck, that they were just "giving someone else a chance" but if the teacher doesn't know her arse from her elbow, then she does need a reminder.

You are not being pushy, just sticking up for your daughter, and reminding the school what a fab little athlete she is.


Eliza2 · 20/06/2007 19:08

That did cross my mind, Squonk, as one of the other girls in the team is very disruptive in class and finds schoolwork difficult--perhaps they wanted her to have a chance, too. (But another mother at the school in the same situation as us thinks it's just admin. muddle.)

Thing is, if it is deliberate the message it sends my children is that there's no point in having a talent and working hard because you can be engineered off a team. One solution would probably be to have more competitive sport within the school, perhaps a house system. The children obviously love competing so why not make it possible for more of them to do so?

Who knows. At least my daughter seems more cheerful about this afternoon, which is a relief.

OP posts:

netballsquad · 16/02/2009 17:47

My dd is in year 5 at a girl's private school. There are lots of teams and in year 3 and 4 my dd was in both the swimming squad nd the netball squad. In all that time she probably only participated a few times in the b and c teams but enjoyed feeling part of the teams. At the beginning of year 5 she brought home a letter explaining that she was no longer in the swimming squad and only in reserve. The worst thing was that the form teacher had asked my daughter to hand out these squad letters and my dd was the only one who had got this "demotion" letter. She was sad and could not understand since her previous yr 4 form teacher had said once you were in the swimming sqaud you stayed in it. Anyawy not wanting to be pushy but trying to understand I phoned the teacher the next day and she just explained very nicely that dd's swimming times had not been as good as the other's and that was sometimes how it is in sports. I accepted this but then 2 weeks later dd comes home to say that she is no longer in netball teams- not done by letter but chosen list up on board. I just hoped that again this was an oversight and since my dd played netball every week if she tred hard she would get picked again and not wanting to be the pushy mother. At the end of the term you can imagine how I felt when the first line of my dd's school report said how well dd had done settling into year 5 and what a good contribution she had made to both the netball and swimming teams. I was totally bemused and arranged an appointment with the headmistress. She was clearly embarassed that the teacher had made such a fundamental mistake- only 16 in each class- and that because dd was a perfectionist she did have to understand that could not always be in the teams. I said I understood that very well but that there were lots of other teams for singing, gym , cross country etc and dd was in none of them yet some girls were in every single team. I said I felt that the school had some sort of "duty" to make sure the kids did feel part of the team etc. She agreed and said she would talk to the teachers concerned. At the beginning of this term we got a letter to say dd is again in the weekly swimming squad- in the full half term since then there have been 4 galas and my dd has not been in one of them and has in fact never been to squad since only the girls with places in the galas were required this time. No word on the netball teams so I went in the last day before half term and asked her form teacher could my dd do anything to imrpove her chances since she really wanted to be in the netball squad. I was told that the games teacher concerned had been asked and that dd went in a big sulk when she was criticised . Form teacher had never mentioned it to me and only came up again because I asked. I went home and checked all my daughter's PE reports and no teacher has ever raised this as a concern. When I asked my dd she said qute calmly that she never sulked at netball and that the teacher only ever mentioned her footwork- but she also mentioned this to most of the other girls. What do I do- my daughter just wants to feel part of a team? Is it fair that some kids are in absolutely everything and some are in nothing? My dd is a very good swimmer but there are some girls in her year who are phenomenal and will swim for the county I suspect- in netball only seen her play a few times and she seemed as competent as the others in the B team. What should I do- aibu? (Apologies for huge long message!) School is not renowned for sporting prowess.


lou031205 · 16/02/2009 17:53

Netball squad - this thread is over 18 months old. You might be better to copy and paste your OP into a new thread


georgiemum · 16/02/2009 17:57

Not fair at all!

I remember when I was about 10 and our school entered a quiz. I wasn't picked for the team although I was quite a smart arse then (I had a seriously good memory then - memory like a goldfish now though). I even got 100% in a general knowledge quiz at school. Anyway, our team got creamed and I was sitting in the front row and did actually know all the answers.

The teacher just didn't like me. Bloody unfair - I knew it, my friends knew it and my parents did. At that age it is really hard to swallow. No, still hard to swallow!


Katiestar · 16/02/2009 18:21

I had this problem with my DS1 when he was in yr5.It is a very small school and YR6 s always get picked for everything they put forward for because it is their last year and therefore last chance.But there were always a few places for yr 5s .My DS was the only boy who wasn't picked for any team.But the chairman of teh governors son was picked everytime.I took the head to task over this and pointed out that the reason the school always won every competition was perhaps that other schools were giving everyone a chance not picking the best team. The upshot was she took it out on my DS
IMO the primary purpose of school sport should be to promote exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.By always picking the same few children they are running the risk of turning the majority off.
WRT OP the problem is that now for your DD to participate they are going to have to bump another child off and that would be very unfair to that child.


netballsquad · 17/02/2009 09:25

Georgiemum- I have been wondering whether it is as simple as that and hoping that it wasn't! When I queried my dd on the sulking she also said- "Mummy, they just don't want me on the team, I never sulk" I just did not know what to say because I had begun to think that exact same thing.

To answer your comment Katiestar, the netball sqaud has more than 2 teams in anyway so not a case of pushing anybody out. To make matters worse my dd said the other day that they had added another girl this term and she is always having a strop and hitting out at others! DD is just getting turned off it all and is becoming wary of volunteering for anything because of the risk of being turned down.

Thankyou lou031205- this is my first time on mumsnet and probably put message in wrong thread. Will leave it here for moment and may post as new topic.


EllenMP · 25/05/2011 15:06

Hello all,
I have been having similar problems with my son's school. There is not enough provision for all the keen athletes so the chosen few do everything and the rest get left out. Humiliating and counterproductive, and happening in virtually every sport. I spoke to the Head of PE about including more of the boys in the football teams and she said it wasn't worth her time to take them to a match if they weren't going to win." Seriously, direct quote. I spoke to the head (in the meantime, the PE head put my son on the team, possibly to shut me up, but it won't work!) who said she had to support her head of PE as long as she was upholding school policy. I said school policy needed to be changed then and she said she would think about it and discuss with the teachers. I don't think anything will be done though, as the head of PE has been there for ages and has a very strong personality. I am thinking of going to the governors next.

Does anyone have any advice about this? Maybe some materials I could use to back up my case? Getting good stuff from Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers already.




pingu2209 · 25/05/2011 15:16

Is your son at primary or secondary? At state or private school?

The older they get the more into league scenarios, therefore the more important it is for the team to actually win. Therefore, the better sports people get the places over the children who want to play but are not actually as good as they need to be. That is just life.

The best option would be to have an A, B, C etc squad. However, the more teams the more adults needed to run them. This is why many schools only have and A and B team.

If the school is private, sport is taken FAR more seriously and you are even less likely to get them to change the policy to be more inclusive of all children rather than just the ones that are good at sport.

How well the school do in the league tables of sport determins the selection process of parents, so a private school will not chance damaging their league place just so a few less able footballers/swimmers/dancers/tennis players etc can get to play.


exoticfruits · 25/05/2011 15:23

I think that the problems lies in schools not taking it very seriously-just giving everyone some part in it-but the DCs take it deadly seriously. I had to go in with a similar point with my DS in yr 6 (and I don't normally interfere) I don't think that the teacher really understood.


Butterbur · 25/05/2011 15:39

If your DCs are not getting the opportunity to do a sport they love at school, isn't it possible to get them into an out of school team? There's often a much wider range of standards, and usually there is something for everyone.

I have had this experience with both my DSs, who tried out for and failed to get into their secondary school football teams at 11, and every year since, on the basis of a 10 minute game, when the ball never came their way. However, they both still play football, DS2 (15) in a local Sunday team, and DS1 (17), set up a team of schoolmates, and play after school once a week on the school pitch.

Both still get a great deal of fun from football, even if it wasn't on the terms they originally wanted. Plus not always getting what you want is a valuable life experience. We can't always protect our children from disappointment, or unfairness, and it's better that they learn to try and fail, rather than never to put themselves forward at all.


pingu2209 · 25/05/2011 15:43

exoticfruits, I'm not sure you understood what EllenMP said, she wants her child to play sport but the sports teacher takes it so seriously that she won't have any child who may be the 'weak link' in the game and risk not winning. The fact is the PE teacher takes it too seriously so only helps the few and not the many.


Jonnyfan · 25/05/2011 16:35

It will all seem very unimportant soon. If you keep interfering they WILL mark you down as fussy mother.


Finallyspring · 25/05/2011 17:20

Er, there's a gap of three years between OP and these last posts.


EllenMP · 25/05/2011 17:31

Thanks, everyone, lots of good feedback. My son is at a state primary school in Year 5. The school prides itself on its good sports results and the head of PE believes the good results justify the completely ruthless attitude to team selection. Personally, I think it's mainly an ego trip for her more than anything.

The school has received the sports mark, whatever that means, so I think they believe they are doing things right. Meanwhile, excellent players are losing confidence from being told they don't measure up, older/larger children in the year group are consistently favoured over smaller/younger ones, and players who are just keen to have a go won't take the risk of trying for fear of not measuring up.

We have an obesity crisis in this country, with our children lolling in front of screens all day instead of developing a love of exercise to take into their adult lives. Sport is a great opportunity to teach children that if they practice something they will improve, that it feels good to achieve that improvement, that hard work pays off, that teamwork brings success and that physical activity is fun. Teaching these important things only to the naturally gifted seems frankly stupid to me.

There are kids who love sport, and will make it a part of their lives right into adulthood. There are kids who hate sport and will not make it a part of their lives no matter what. Then there is the vast middle ground: kids who are keen but not terribly coordinated. Kids who like sports but not contact sports, kids who have some ability but are the only one of their friends who want to play sports. To my mind, this big middle chunk is where most resources should be allocated. They are the ones who could be nudged in the right direction with a little well crafted encouragement. And they are the ones being put off by the cut throat attitude.

For the record, the son in question is an excellent football player, so he is not even in the category I am talking about -- he plays in a competitive league on Sundays, a fun league on Saturdays, and believes that the only purpose of school holidays is footie camp. So opportunities to play are not the problem for him. His problem is that all his friends and teammates were chosen for the last match and he wasn't, causing him to feel humiliated and his friends to feel guilty. Not nice for any of them.

I've watched these kids play football for 6 years now, and to be honest there is not a great deal of difference in ability amongst the really keen ones, who number about half the boys in the year. Some are a bit better than others, but not markedly so, and really any random 11 would be about as good as any other 11, assuming you have a decent goalkeeper. So there is really very little purpose in only letting the biggest ones play for the school. All it does is put off both good players and children who aren't too great but should be encouraged to enjoy sport.

Sorry to go off on one there, but I feel sure there is a better, fairer, more educational and equally competitive way to run things.


exoticfruits · 25/05/2011 17:35

exoticfruits, I'm not sure you understood what EllenMP said, she wants her child to play sport but the sports teacher takes it so seriously that she won't have any child who may be the 'weak link' in the game and risk not winning. The fact is the PE teacher takes it too seriously so only helps the few and not the many.

I was following the disorganised part. My assumption was that she just quickly filled the places in a lazy way-the main thing being that everyone got something. Seems I was wrong-sorry.


nijinsky · 25/05/2011 17:37

I agree with you OP, participation should be encouraged at all costs and PE teachers should be doing everything they can to avoid putting children off. It must be heartbreaking for your daughter when she's so keen.

And her teachers are very misguided if they think athletic prowess is about size. Its actually about strength to weight ratio and most middle and long distance track athletes are pretty tiny. Haile Gebresalasie, the multiple 10000m Olympic Champion and marathon world record holder is 5 feet 4, and most of the female athletes are no taller than 5 feet 2, outwith Europe.

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