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Advice needed - a case where every child doesn't seem to matter and how to complain and get some action

Discussion in 'Primary' started by creno, Jun 29, 2015.

  1. I'm a secondary teacher, seeking advice from primary colleagues.

    We chose to send out son to village first school, acting head at time sold it as a family style school of 45 where all look out for each other. Son joined in September and loves school, made friends, really happy and we have been happy and supported him and school wherever we can. He has been working in top of three tables in a group which are now his friendship group.

    School has two classes, class 1 is reception and year 1 and part way through year some naughty year 1s moved to class 2. On Wednesday we received a letter to say that our son would have same teacher next year with no other info or explanation. The next day our son comes home to say all of his friends have gone to class 2 and he and 5 others stayed behind. We asked him about it and worked out that the class had been separated by age, our son was born in May.

    we went to see the class teacher who swiftly passed us on to the head. She could not give us a reason why our son was the only one of the top ability group not to move up and only one of his friendship group too. The answer we got was that it had always been done by age, she said she told us this on the way round ( which she didn't) and the specific reason was our son would have been the next to go up.

    I'm not a whingy parent who wants her child in top class just because and I would have been quite happy for him to remain where he was if he had an academic peer and a friend, but I was cross that they hadn't warned us what was going on, the kids didn't know what was going on in advance. And also that had they made the cut off one person above there would has been his friend and academic peer in the same class as him. Head seems stuck on age not ability which I understand is what some primaries do, but to not even consider our son now left with all low ability kids and no friends is ridiculous!

    head has now decided as one pupil is coming down that as next person to go up is our son that we can decide. She then added that all naughty boys are in the other class so she would leave him where he is. Feel a bit like we are on a TV reality show waiting for someone to tell us it's all a joke.

    advice please......

    if head says that school policy is to split a class by age, can I ask to see something like that in writing? It doesn't appear in handbook or on school policies page and none of other parents can recall this policy being shared verbally on being shown round.

    how do I complain without falling out with her?

    our son now doesn't understand why naught boys have gone up and he has been praised for being good and trying hard and now he is bright enough to know he is with lower ability and not with friends and doesn't understand what he has done wrong.

  2. Wotton

    Wotton Lead commenter

    Difficult one. Have they been split by age. It is a bit odd that all the ones remaining "down" are the younger ones and the lower ability. Does this happen.......we had some children who remained with the younger year group after discussion with parents but they were not the youngest in their year group.The rest of the year group moved to the older class. We are a small village school and need to do this to accommodate the the different numbers in the year groups.

    If you want to complain your school should have a complaints procedure in their policy section.
  3. My son was born on 27th may, all rest are born after that as they are all still 4 apart from 1 who is two weeks younger than ours. The head also said that their policy is to split by age. When pressed one of the other staff said they did it by ability once and it causes too much grief from parents.
  4. Head said she told all parents she intended to do this if made head. I have a very good memory for things like this and find it strange that neither I nor the other parents have any recollection. Would a school have a policy like this in writing? If it isn't then is it a policy?
  5. Malenko

    Malenko New commenter

    Okay well firstly, make sure you're diplomatic, probably obvious but if I got wind of someone saying/implying/suggesting "children don't matter to [insert name here]", I'd be irate, as I imagine you would be.

    Secondly if it's a small school, whilst some stuff will be easier (e.g. knowing children) some jobs or admin etc is fixed and doesn't expand with the size of school. So the head may be without a deputy, without a caretaker, without a full time secretary/clerical worker/office manager etc. I don't know you know the school better than me, I'm just saying, as you say you don't want to fall out with her, so do try to think this is a professional doing the best they can with a lot to do.

    Which leads into ...

    - decide what you want


    - don't dwell on the past

    The former because you seem to say now that you can decide to send your son up (if I've interpreted correctly), you seem eager to do so yet bothered by "naughty" boys in that class. You need to decide together what you want, then persue that.

    The latter because you are asking about "how do I complain" and "can I ask to see something like that in writing" and if indeed my reading of "as next person to go up is our son that we can decide" does indicate you will be able to send your son up to the "big" class, why do you need to complain and demand written evidence of policies? I can't help but worry that this will look like trouble-making, for want of a better word.

    It's clear you want what's best for your son, and it seems the situation has you, and your child worried. Try to bear in mind that the school too almost certainly [I guess there's a minority somewhere] wants what's best for them. So as I say [my advice would be to] decide what it is that you want as an outcome from this, make that clear to the school and give them the chance to facilitate this. If this then doesn't happen, and you believe your requests to be reasonable you will then have a basis to complain and should have a record of what you have done to support the complaint.

    If you do wish to complain as noted there should (legally) be a complaints procedure, but it does depend what you want to get out of it (again, think what you want) and through school would be the first step. If there is a problem which "affects the whole school" you can complain to Ofsted.
  6. Thanks for your advice. I'm bothered that the line drawn to split the kids was arbitrary, that parents weren't told until last minute, kids not told at all, that the birthday rule which is not mentioned in any of the handbook, website not was it mentioned verbally has suddenly appeared. Only reason our son is being given a choice is because someone else has opted to move down. The line could have been drawn anywhere and where it was drawn meant one boy was isolated from his friends and peers, makes no sense for our son nor the teachers in terms of planning. The answers given were our son will be fine anywhere, he is next on list and he is of same ability of others in the group. Up to now we know he has been in top stream, he is at least 'expected' in all areas and perhaps 'exceeding' according to one of his teachers in some areas. But his other teacher has suddenly decided to contradict this and he isn't one of the brighter ones and will be 'fine' in the middle / lower ability kids group. To me we have been mislead from the start, have not been informed of any changes in his progress or they are trying to justify their decision by changing what they have said. The head also contradicted this by saying he is of the same ability as a child in the middle ability group. Just confused and struggling to know how to tackle what seems grossly unprofessional. Trying to look at it from a professionals point of view I am struggling to see what the hell is going on. And whilst I'm not the biggest ffan of ofsted, the school's last ofsted found that the top end we're not challenged, and the policy and attitude of the head seem to confirm what ofsted have said.

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