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Am I being PFB about this?!

32 replies

Fluffybubble · 27/04/2009 10:31

My ds is in Reception. Since the beginning of April the children have been making their own way into school via the main door when the bell rings. Prior to this, the Reception parents walked the dc around to the front of the school building when the bell rang, and waited for the class teacher to come to meet them at the gate into the Reception playground.

My ds has been happy to make his own way in and usually (although not always) the class teacher or TA has come to the main door to usher them all in. We have already had one instance of a little boy running back out to find his mum when she thought he was already in the school, so she made her way back to the car, only to discover her son waiting in tears at the gate for her.

This morning it was pouring down and the older children had made their way straight into school rather than waiting for the bell to ring in the playground. Before this new arrangement came into play, we (parents) would walk the dc around to the front of the building and hand them over to the teacher in the classroom.

Today, no-one was on the main door so I said to my ds 'shall I come with you?' to make sure that there was someone in the classroom. He said yes and I walked him in (past the big sign on the door that says that parents are not permitted to enter the school!) and took him to find his teacher. The teacher didn't seem to have realised that it was raining and was busy in the classroom. He looked quite taken aback that we had made our way in (that I had taken ds?) and because my ds thought we had done the wrong thing he then cried. I left them to it and am sure my ds will be fine but I now feel that I did the wrong thing and am wrestling with it...

I do not feel happy about the policy that the school seem to have of letting the youngest children make their own way in without any adult supervision. I would never expect to send my child into a building on his own and just hope that he managed to make his way to his destination unaccompanied, but it seems this is expected at school. The teacher did say that he would make his way to the door to meet the class after I left but appeared to be an afterthought on his part.

I am cross that I have come home feeling rubbish about leaving my ds in tears, and that it was fairly obvious that I wasn't expected to escort him to an adult but was supposed to leave him to it. The school definitely discourage parents from coming into school with children as, apparently, it has been considered very disruptive in the past. I do understand this, but I also do not think that it is acceptable to expect 4 and 5 year olds to be left in this way. Am I being precious and unreasonable?!

OP posts:
ilove · 27/04/2009 10:35

erm, I think YABU a the school mine go to the children all make their own way in after the Easter when they start reception.

On good days you leave them in the playground and when the bell goes they line up in classes, on wet days the classroom doors are open and they go straight in.

Hassled · 27/04/2009 10:39

No, not precious and unreasonable at all. "The big sign on the door that says that parents are not permitted to enter the school" is baffling to me - and quite unusual, as far as I know. Certainly when my DCs were in Reception (youngest now Yr2) we were actively encouraged to settle our child in the classroom - and still now, in Yr2, we read with our DC/look at work etc if we want before the register is taken.

Ask the Head to explain why the school has adopted this policy. And if you're not happy, find out who the Parent Governors are and talk to them.

Their attitude seems to fly in the face of Community Cohesion, which is something Ofsted is very interested in these days - involves Equal Opps, discrimination etc but also is about making all stakeholders in the school (staff, children and parents) and local community all one big happy family.

forevergold · 27/04/2009 10:41

I think your feelings are valid and common.
Make appt with class teacher / head to politely say you feel uneasy leaving him at an empty doorway~this used to happen in our school~now they [any teacher] welcomes the child in in the porchway~at least you know then they have been "handed over"to the schools responsibility for the day.

Fluffybubble · 27/04/2009 10:42

Thanks ilove...

I guess that we haven't been told that wrt wet days and that's why I wasn't sure that he should just go in or that anyone would be there waiting (today is the first day it has happened). Also, we don't have a lining up system on dry days (the previous Reception teacher did but this one doesn't) so it is purely down to us parents watching until the dc are actually through the door (and then checking that they don't come shooting out again!).

The bit that bothers me is the lack of adult (surely the bell-waving teacher could stand just inside the door on wet days?!). I know that I am possibly being a bit PFB really but I am not happy about it...

OP posts:
Fluffybubble · 27/04/2009 10:52

Thanks Hassled and forevergold.

The issue with not being 'allowed' into school really bothers me but the majority of the other parents don't seem concerned so I have decided it's me! There is no 'open-door' type policy, stepping over the threshold to school is actively discouraged. There is a real sense that we are not welcome/included, which I feel quite sad about...Having said that, my ds is doing well and enjoys school and so I have talked myself out of making a fuss about it, as I don't want to be the PITA mother.

I did mention at parents' evening that I appreciated a newsletter that was sent out the in the first term (as this has been the only communication that we have had from the class teacher). As a result, we have had one further newsletter, but that is all. I feel that we, as parents, are merely there to drop off and collect our dc. From what I can understand this does not improve the further up the school you go.

I think that I might have a word after all, as I do feel that it is a safety issue in this case...

OP posts:
SamJamsmum · 27/04/2009 11:00

At this age I would definitely expect to handover to an adult. I would expect teacher to come to collect the children every time. It does depend a bit on how far away the classroom is though. Assuming the classroom is not right there I don't think you are being unreasonable.
At this age it's useful to give parents a chance to touch base with teachers incase something has come up. My son is in Reception and his teacher wants us to let her know if they are bit tired/ worried about something etc. Says a hello to all of us every morning.

Fluffybubble · 27/04/2009 11:04

SamJamsmum - the classroom is about as far away from the main door as you can get! There is no other situation (birthday parties etc) where I would expect my ds to make his own way in without handing him over to an adult so I think that this is why I am bothered!

I also think that the handover is important for the reasons you say about updating the teacher, but it is really hit and miss with my ds's teacher as to whether he'll be there!

Thanks for your perspective, I don't feel quite so neurotic now .

OP posts:
MuffinBaker · 27/04/2009 11:05

You are not being precious or unreasonable.

I have had similar experiences and a note has come home saying not to take my 5 year old into school even though she was crying.

forevergold · 27/04/2009 11:05

A few years back schools started to discourage parents from going into the school after some safety issues~for teachers who might get harassed and becos it was so busy they couldn't see who was supposed to be in and who was on their way out.But if its taken too far that attitude makes you feel rather unwelcome and a bit sad~our school seems to have loosened up a bit lately and there is a lot more talk about including parents and communication~we had questionnaires to fill out and i made my feelings known.

SamJamsmum · 27/04/2009 11:08

Based on that though I definitely don't think you are being unreasonable. If something happened and they never showed for registration how would either party know there was a problem. Sorry to be scaremonger lady but you may not even realize until your child wasn't there at pick-up.

forevergold · 27/04/2009 11:11

Exactly~you need to feel someone has taken him from you,responsibility wise.

ilove · 27/04/2009 11:15

Ahh you see all our classrooms have doors directly into the playground, their own cloakrooms and toilets, as well as doors directly into the school, hence the children lining up in the playground.

wannaBe · 27/04/2009 11:19

imo there are two issues here.

The first is your feelings re your ds being expected to know where he's going in the school building. Reality is that he will be expected to be able to go around the building on his own during the school day, to the toilet/to the office to hand in the register etc, so him knowing where he is going in the building should not be alien to him, iyswim.

The second issue is the handing over of children to an adult in the morning and essentially dropping them off at the front door. Can I ask, what is the layout of your school? Because if there is a door that opens from the classroom into the playground then it seems odd that they would encourage all the children to go in at the front. Also can I ask what is the protocol for picking them up at the end of the school day? Are the children handed to a parent or are they just let out on mass?

I can understand why the parents are not allowed beyond a certain point, especially if this is not directly into the classroom but to go through the school building. These steps are taken mostly for safety reasons and let's be honest if every parent went into the school building it would be chaos. But I don't think it's unreasonable to expect to hand your child over to an adult or to at least send them into their own classroom (via a door on to the playground) to ensure that they've actually gone into school.

If the class has its own external door could you perhaps approach the head and suggest that the ks1 children use their classroom doors on to the playground rather than the main door in future? Suggest that it would be for the safety of the children, in light of the fact a child did get out recently? After all the school doesn't want an escaped 5 yo on their conscience...

Hotcrossbunny · 27/04/2009 11:25

YANBU. When your child steps into school, they are in loco parentis, and it is their duty to care for your child at all times. I would not be at all happy just to see my child go through a door , and not see that the teacher or TA is present and expecting them. Many children would cope fine with this, but my dd would definitely like me to see her settled in class, or at least lined up ready to go in with the other children.

I would talk to the head about it I think. Ask what exactly should be happening and whether this lives up to your expectations.

NotPlayingAnyMore · 27/04/2009 11:40

At my DS's school, both the infant and junior gates are always manned by at least one member of staff but usually more.
There's no issues about coming into school either. The main door opens up into the infant and junior corridors of the school so most issues can be dealt with at the office there, but if we need to go further, all they ask is that we sign in.


SoupDragon · 27/04/2009 11:49

"There is no other situation (birthday parties etc) where I would expect my ds to make his own way in without handing him over to an adult"

Except your child goes to this classroom 5 days a week and is there for around 6 hours each day. It is not a strange environment.

I'm sure that when I was in KS1 I navigated my way to my class by myself each morning and wasn't taken there by my mum. I do think we mollycoddle children rather too much these days.

Having said that, until the last term of Y2, at DSs school you see your child in and settle them at one of the "challenges" set out for the day.

madwomanintheattic · 27/04/2009 11:56

i drop dd2 (yr r) through the front door and she manages to find her way to her classroom at the furthest end of the building lol. she also has cerebral palsy. she manages there all day without me, i imagine me taking her to the classroom and encountering loads of other mummies toing and froing with younger siblings under their arms might cause her to find the task a bit trickier to be honest. primary schools are small enough places without wedging in a hundred parents trying to hang up little johnny's jacket and work out which desk his 2yo brother is hiding under.

the only issue here is that you didn't know what the wet weather protocol is - fine to call the office and ask.

forevergold · 27/04/2009 11:58

soup dragon~yr 2 might be ott but not in reception!

Fluffybubble · 27/04/2009 12:15

Thanks all - a varied response!!

My main issue, I have decided, is handing him over to someone so that someone actually knows that he is there. I cannot leave him at the door and just hope that he makes it in and then find out at hometime that he wandered out again!

wannaBe - the Reception classroom (and the Reception playground) is at the front of the building, which is also by the staff car park. The children could go in this way at first as parents walked them round and lined up to hand them over (even so there were some near misses with cars arriving and mums chatting whilst children ran around!) The main door opens on to the main playground.

At hometime the teacher brings the class out and they have to tell him that they have spotted their mum / dad / whoever before they run off. This is still a fairly hit & miss affair, as there is no requirement to let the teacher know who is picking up so the responsibility is essentially the child's to say 'I recognise that person'...

Soupdragon - I know that he does know his way around school but it is the transition from my care to that of the school that I think is important. I fully expect him to be independent and responsible (as he can be!) once in school, but I believe that there should be some procedure in place to ensure that the school are aware that he is actually there! They take the register on the carpet at approximately 9am, 15 minutes after I have left him. I have to assume that he has made it there and won't know any different until the school ring me or I turn up to collect him and he is not there. I cannot in good faith do this (and I would not expect to drop him outside a party / his grandparents etc and say make your own way in either!).

I do understand that the school don't necessarily want us all hanging around but I think that there must be some middle ground, even just a teacher on the door who can see that they have arrived. I presume that this won't be such a big deal further up the school but for 5 year olds I think that it is (especially since one has already gone AWOL!).

OP posts:
Butkin · 28/04/2009 09:19

DD is Yr 1 and we still park up and take her into school and deposit her with her teacher in the classroom. We are discouraged from actually speaking to the teacher (who is usually busy reading with kids) but a quick note such as "DD will be going home with X tonight" is fine.

We can do this right through school although I notice that around Yr4 the kids just want to hop out the car and leg it in by themselves.

I can't see what the hassle is with parents taking kids into school - as you say it can be daunting for little ones. The minimum I'd expect is that teachers or TAs would meet them at the school door.

giantkatestacks · 28/04/2009 09:24

Fluffy - I think your school sounds a bit lax tbh - especially the pick ups - we have to sign a book to say who will be picking our child up at the end of the day and the teacher still has to have seen them before.

In reception the children have to be picked up and dropped off to the teacher/parent iyswim at their respective classroom doors.

I thought it was an ofsted requirement for under fives actually.

melissa75 · 28/04/2009 10:06

I personally find it a bit strange that there is no adult to see the children of reception age in to the school in the morning. Even if it was a TA. At one of the schools I used to teach at, the TA's would man the doors in the morning with a clipboard and then if parents had a message or anything for the teacher, the TA on that door would note it down and then pass on the message to the respective teacher. At the current school I teach at, which is a primary, the infant staff go out to collect their own classes in the morning, junior staff do not, they just come in when the bell rings.

I must say, I do agree with the concept of parents not being allowed in in the morning, this is speaking from the teachers perspective. It is really difficult to be dealing with parents questions and concerns in the mornings, when you have a group of 30 children to get in and settled. A lot of schools have a policy that parents can speak to the teacher after school or make an appointment to meet with the teacher at a mutually convenient time. The other side of the issue, is especially with the younger and perhaps more sensitive children, the further the parent were to come in in the morning, the more difficult it would be for the child to settle. It also does not teach them to be independant. In saying that, it seems a bit strange of what you have said where there is a sign saying parents not allowed past this point. Are you sure this for ALL times of the day, and not just meant for the morning?

katiestar · 28/04/2009 13:25

does your school have a memeber of staff who is the home-school linK worker? In our school you drop your DC at the school gate.The home-school link worker ,who is an HLTA is there to 1) make sure no child goes back out again and 2) carry any messages to the teachers,answer questions etc.
i think it would be a good idea to have a memeber of staff by the door to meet and greet and to prevent escapes !!

memoo · 28/04/2009 14:08

We don't let parents into our school at drop off following a couple of very serious security threats.

One time a childs father who has been denied access to his DD due to domestic abuse tried to snatch her from her classroom.

The second incident involved a complete stranger trying to get into school. He had already tried it in a few other local schools and was later arrested by the police

But I do stand on the door that the reception children come in a make sure they all make it to the classroom and take any messages etc. and of course to make sure no children try and sneak back out

melissa75 · 28/04/2009 15:43

Like memoo, in my old school, I had a father come in, who was involved in a domestic dispute, and was not allowed access to his child from a court order, anyway, dad shows up at the school with a gun demanding the child.
The school had to go into lockdown, and it was one of the most scary and horrific experiences I have ever been involved in.

So, another more drastic reason why parents may not be allowed into schools.

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