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Advice needed from Primary Teachers/Head

Discussion in 'Personal' started by GeographyGuy, Dec 4, 2019.

  1. GeographyGuy

    GeographyGuy New commenter

    Hello, I teach secondary so I’m not really up to speed on how Primary works beyond the basics. My son is in Yr1 (age5) and I’m a bit concerned about how the teacher is going about getting him and the class to do work. Everything seems to be based on a threat of withholding break/play time. Apparently it’s only for a few minutes/until they complete the work.

    It certainly seems like a detention in everything but name (they say they don’t call it a detention). My son has been held back as have other children. To a certain extent I’d get it if they were stomping their feet and refusing to work but my son has some additional needs and has a developmental delay. He does do the work but after a couple of sentences he is exhausted and just needs a break to refocus. Apparently that isn’t being considered.

    Is this really a normal, valid Yr1 technique or is it really something a bit wrong?

    My main concern is that he’s beginning to attribute finding the work hard to being naughty since the same punishment is given to children that fight etc. It’s also something that isn’t in any school policy...

    I know of one other parent who is concerned it’s causing her son anxiety about doing his work correctly since he’s terrified of losing his break.
  2. 7eleven

    7eleven Senior commenter

    Oh gosh. It’s a tricky one. As a primary teacher there have been occasions when particular children have been told they need to do a certain amount of work before going out to break (usually if they’re talking or something).

    I would never use it as a blanket threat, and would be mortified if any child associated their ability to do the work with bad behaviour.

    In short, it can be a reasonable strategy in certain occasions, but I’d be very wary with such young children. Having said that, I have kept foundation stage children in at break if they’ve refused to join in the tidying up!

    I’d recommend going in and having a chat with the teacher. It’s possible that your child was kept in for 40 seconds once, and it’s playing on his mind. I’d also check where you’re getting this information from. Be wary of playground gossip!
    Jesmond12, chelsea2, Marshall and 2 others like this.
  3. 7eleven

    7eleven Senior commenter

    Just to add, I’d be much more concerned with keeping an eye on the provision your son is getting for his additional needs. Make sure you’re aware of the strategies in place and (nicely and respectfully, of course) check they’re happening.
    Marshall, Aquamarina1234 and Jamvic like this.
  4. GeographyGuy

    GeographyGuy New commenter

    Hi - thanks for your insight! It was the teacher that let it slip casually that my son had been held back. None of the ‘veteran’ parents had heard of it happening to the infants before and not being something they’ve made obvious before, most parents were oblivious it seems.

    We did have a meeting with the teacher, her mentor and the head just to establish what was happening but as often happens ranks were closed and they just kept repeating that this is how they do it, and that children “always choose whether or not to do work”. Points raised about ability, age, development level etc. fell on deaf ears.

    Their unofficial policy is “kept in until the work is done”! Trouble is at age 5, there could be so many reasons out of the child’s control why they might be finding it difficult that particular day.

    Like you said, which I agree with, useful if it is outright stomping foot refusal but I just don’t follow the logic of using it when the child is struggling academically. Especially when his SEN plan focuses on confidence building.
  5. GeographyGuy

    GeographyGuy New commenter

    I honestly wouldn’t know how to check. Primary schools seem such a minefield of potential upset! They do want to remove his SEN provision after Christmas but his latest report (last week) had him on the 40-60month bands. I wish I’d trained as a primary teacher to make sense of what is happening!
  6. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Oh goodness, been there with knobs on! One of mine was very slow at writing. He used to think about his work really deeply but that had no value compared with getting something down on paper, in spite of the fact that his work was really good, it just took him longer than some people to do it. And my poor nephew was even 'worse'. He never produced work that wasn't really good but he was very, very slow, and liked to think about what he was doing. I'd have thought that to a large degree this would be a positive rather than a negative, but of course thinking produces no evidence...

    And I'll never forget the time my youngest wrote a beautiful piece of work, very neat and very finished, and the only comment at the bottom was 'what a pity you didn't manage to write a whole page.' He had left one line blank. It was one of the saddest things I've seen.

    It's really hard for teachers. They're being pressured to produce work and move children on. It doesn't matter if it's not in the children's best interests or if the child wants to put more thought into their work. It's the sad state of education these days. And yes, it's wrong. It's insane. Children in lots of other countries wouldn't even be at school at age five.
  7. 7eleven

    7eleven Senior commenter

    Do you know how many times this has happened to your child? If it’s frequent, I wouldn’t be happy. If it’s been occasional, then maybe he deserved it. Are you sure it is his additional needs that are always causing his learning not to be done?

    Of course it’s possible that his teacher is a horrible old bat!

    If I’m really honest, I think going straight in with the big guns of a meeting with the teacher and her mentor and the head is a bit over the top. It could have been closing ranks, or it could have been SLT supporting a teacher in the face of unreasonable behaviour from a parent. We’ve all been there!

    What matters now is that you have a productive relationship with the school, especially with a child with additional needs. It might have helped to have a friendly, quiet chat with the teacher first, only escalating if you weren’t satisfied.

    If a parent had an issue with your management of their child, wouldn’t you hope they would speak to you about it rather than going straight to your HOD and Headteacher?

    I hope things settle down for your little boy and he enjoys school as much as he should.
    Lala24 likes this.
  8. GeographyGuy

    GeographyGuy New commenter

    I did also raise this issue and asked “is there pressure to make them finish from above?” (Knowing their haven’t had an inspection in over 10 years!) and of course this was flatly denied. I was thinking that it must be the first And only teacher and school to never have pressure so why the lie?!

    It’s hard seeing teaching from this perspective but it makes me understand something I couldn’t understand when I was training. I never understood why there was so many us v. them feelings at schools when parents were involved. Now I have children in the education system I can see the conflict - both want what they see is best for the child. The trouble is it’s such a hard thing to do to hand your 5 year old child over to a stranger each day and then see them subjected to treatment you honestly don’t think they are ready for and be faced with an impenetrable “like it or lump it” approach. I was ready for this when he got to KS2 but not a few weeks into year 1!
  9. 7eleven

    7eleven Senior commenter

    That’s so awful. What a terrible thing to write. Makes me really sad.
  10. GeographyGuy

    GeographyGuy New commenter

    The meeting was requested by the school because they didn’t want to have a casual chat about it in the playground. We don’t know how many times it’s happened unfortunately and they have refused to go into the reasons why he found the work hard. He’s very sad about it all because his writing is very poor and it takes a long time for him to do it and it seems they set the work for him at the end of the lesson.
  11. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I really wished I'd said something. I always tried not to complain, in case something came along that was worse, if you see what I mean, but I really should have said something on that occasion. I think education has gone completely mad. Talk about concentrating on the wrong things!
    7eleven likes this.
  12. 7eleven

    7eleven Senior commenter

    It’s really hard and I do feel your pain. It does sound quite heavy for Year 1. Maybe it’s not the right school for your little boy?

    ETA You wouldn’t believe the pressure that even Year 1 teachers are under to show progress in books
  13. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    Can you arrange to meet the SENDCo? Go with your copy of the statement and make it clear that you think what amounts to a detention is not improving his confidence at all, and that if the work he is set is consistently beyond his means to finish on time, then differentiation has not been effectively done.

    Once you've established that is a regular occurrence and not just a one-off that;s played on his mind!
    7eleven likes this.
  14. GeographyGuy

    GeographyGuy New commenter

    Thanks for the advice, I can certainly try that approach. We had previously sat with the teacher for the SEN planning meeting and the plan drawn up has been chucked out the window apparently in favour of an easier solution based on threat of punishment. Believe me, it’s tempting to apply that short cut to year 9’s who don’t get there stuff done but as a compassionate professional, I’d be asking myself what I could be doing differently. Easier said than done I know...
  15. 7eleven

    7eleven Senior commenter

    If this is honestly how you feel about this school and this teacher, I’d really consider your options for other schools.
  16. Marshall

    Marshall Star commenter

    Write a letter - explaining everything as you have done here.

    Ask for explanations and another meeting - SENDCo to be involved but if the head has already been involved they may refer back to that.

    You need explanations and perhaps you are not being told everything? This refers to the SEN plan - why did they default to behaviour?
  17. GeographyGuy

    GeographyGuy New commenter

    Thanks. We did ask if he’d refused or been naughty and they just said “he didn’t finish all his work and that he must finish all his work or be held back”. He’s on a 40-60 month band for writing (development delay) so is slow. He has to think hard about forming letters and putting sentences together. I feel for him because he tries so hard and we spend a long time on homework because he is so slow he just burns out quickly after a couple of lines.
  18. GeographyGuy

    GeographyGuy New commenter

    Thank you all for advice. It’s a complicated situation and I wasn’t prepared for this happening to him at age 5.

    Referring back to my first post, I’m still not sure if the process of holding 5 year olds back because they’ve struggled to finish their work is a often used strategy. From your replies I get the impression it is done occasionally but is on the harsher end of the scale in terms of encouraging year 1s to get writing. If I’ve misunderstood- let me know.

    I can live with that but I’m disappointed that such a good school is doing it - perhaps that’s why they get good grades. I expect that those who struggle to learn there leave eventually. I don’t think I’d want to teach there under those conditions but I’ve seen worse in secondary. I’m probably just a softy for little ones!
  19. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    This is heartbreaking. A five year old shouldn't be a spending ages on homework and being worn out by it. What are we doing to our children?

    I remember a wise and experienced teacher, when school names were being changed, who said that the name infant school was a good one because it reminds you daily of how young the children are.
    7eleven likes this.
  20. GeographyGuy

    GeographyGuy New commenter

    No he shouldn’t but I had to sign a homework agreement and that 30mins gets 2 lines of homework done before I end it.

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