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Difficult parent? Or am I unreasonable?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by milliebear1, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. Hi there
    Lovely way to finish a working week - today I had a bit of a 'run-in' with a parent of a child in my class.
    Her child was moved onto a different table for Maths as part of a whole class 'reshuffle'. Then, a few of my children were given some tailored extra work packs to do (the children know these packs are for specific children only as we've discussed them before).
    The child has obviously mentioned these at home and has told mum he's unhappy about being 'moved down a table' (he hasn't been) and not being given the booster work (which was not suitable for him).
    Mum came in and said she thought it was wrong of me not to explain why her child had moved tables, and why he had not been given a booster pack when other children had. I tried to explain that I don't tend to explain the reasoning behind my groupings to children, nor explain the reasoning behind differentiated work! She then went on to tell me this was wrong and have a general rant about favouritism and even suggested the school has some agenda whereby children who are to apply for grammar schools (and thus sit the 11 plus) are given priority and pushed more than other children (I teach year 5). These are completely untrue (and downright insulting) claims incidentally!
    I was cross and feel I probably came across as a bit defensive and hostile myself, but honestly - she was just so pushy and (I feel at least) unreasonable.
    I mentioned the online opportunities we have for children whose parents want them to do extra work, but she insisted she expected me to give her child paper-based work specifically designed for her. This is not needed in this child's case at all, and the online provision is perfectly suitable.
    Sorry, part-rant and part advice-seeking. What would you have said to her? Am I being unreasonable? Should I have made more effort to give her what she wanted? I know I will now stew on this all weekend :(
     
  2. Hi there
    Lovely way to finish a working week - today I had a bit of a 'run-in' with a parent of a child in my class.
    Her child was moved onto a different table for Maths as part of a whole class 'reshuffle'. Then, a few of my children were given some tailored extra work packs to do (the children know these packs are for specific children only as we've discussed them before).
    The child has obviously mentioned these at home and has told mum he's unhappy about being 'moved down a table' (he hasn't been) and not being given the booster work (which was not suitable for him).
    Mum came in and said she thought it was wrong of me not to explain why her child had moved tables, and why he had not been given a booster pack when other children had. I tried to explain that I don't tend to explain the reasoning behind my groupings to children, nor explain the reasoning behind differentiated work! She then went on to tell me this was wrong and have a general rant about favouritism and even suggested the school has some agenda whereby children who are to apply for grammar schools (and thus sit the 11 plus) are given priority and pushed more than other children (I teach year 5). These are completely untrue (and downright insulting) claims incidentally!
    I was cross and feel I probably came across as a bit defensive and hostile myself, but honestly - she was just so pushy and (I feel at least) unreasonable.
    I mentioned the online opportunities we have for children whose parents want them to do extra work, but she insisted she expected me to give her child paper-based work specifically designed for her. This is not needed in this child's case at all, and the online provision is perfectly suitable.
    Sorry, part-rant and part advice-seeking. What would you have said to her? Am I being unreasonable? Should I have made more effort to give her what she wanted? I know I will now stew on this all weekend :(
     
  3. speak to your line manager and ask if they will have a word with her and maybe go through the school policies.
     
  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Sounds like a situation bound to cause problems. Surely if other children 'want' the extra work they can have it, regardless of suitability? Differentiated work isn't giving some children extra packs.
    But you are doing just that for some children, so this parent only wants the same for her child.

    Yes she does sound pushy, but the situation is bound to cause a problem.

    I think parents should be banned from seeing teachers on Friday afternoons. They will never get the best possible responses and we will always be more irritated by them than usual.
     
  5. Thanks. Yes, I plan to talk to the Head on Monday and brief him, as it's quite likely she'll complain to him too. The school policy thing doesn't really apply as the issues she's got are really the teachers' individual calls at my school.
     
  6. I dont think she's got a leg to stand on with the groupings - children obviously 'know' whether they are in the higher ability group or the lower ability group, but we dont TELL them that for obvious reasons.
    The work packs however - I think my response would have been to say "It was work that those specific children need to work on, but if child X is eager for some extra work for at home I can get some things together that he needs to work on." and i'd actually be really enthused about it because there's nothing better than a child who wants to work!
    But dont beat yourself up about it, if her tone and manner was confrontational and aggressive you are bound to have been defensive. I think I would perhaps gather some work for his ability level grouping for next week so she sees that her child is being challenged too.
     
  7. Sorry, I should have explained this more clearly. The other children haven't been given any paper based material at all. The booster packs they have been given are also online. All the children in the class know these are available for them to access (alongside lots of other materials on the same system). I also pointed this out to mum. In essence though, the boosters are specifically designed (by a commercial company) to take children over a level threshold, which doesn't apply to her child.

     
  8. The groups aren't even ability linked as such! I have them in mixed ability groupings. I suspect this child's real beef is that she is no longer sitting with her friend who is of high ability. Mum's beef is that she has assumed (wrongly) that this means her child has been 'demoted' in some way.

     
  9. Ahh I see, sorry I misunderstood. Presumably you explained that to mum then and she can just like it or lump it!
    I still think providing something to boost that child at his/her level would be a good idea, not to please the parent just because they are obviously keen and i'd take advantage of that.
     
  10. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Why do some children get boosters to cross level boundaries and others don't get boosters to cross sub-level boundaries?
     
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    some children will have just crossed one level boundary and won't be close enough to cross the next?
     
  12. Data and Results.

    Sad but true.
     
  13. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Not in all schools thankfully
     
  14. They are just the packs that come with the system (ICT based) that we have bought in for maths. It's for homework, extra work etc. They are designed to take a 4a child to a 5c, 3a to a 4c and so on.
    Yes, absolutely designed to enhance school figures, but I have a lot of 4a and 3a kids who will benefit from them. It doesn't mean I'm ignoring the rest! They will be moved onto the next sub-level as quickly as I can achieve it, but I don't have readily available extra materials to give to every child in my classroom unfortunately.
    Because we have supportive (and often demanding) parents, we want to utilise that. The online system is open to all the children (including the booster materials discussed above). They know exactly how to use it from home, and many do - some for fun, some because they have been targeted as 'falling behind' and so specifically asked to do extra tasks, some because they are high achievers and are keen to do better or in danger of plateauing.
    What I can't do (much as I would like to) is find the time to provide individualised extra work for all 31 children in the class at the same time, although I would expect to have done this for every child at some point by the end of the spring term/beginning of summer term.
     
  15. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I'm kind of puzzled a to whether there is something suitable online for a child who is b or c? If there isn't and some children get more homework of an appropriate nature than others I can understand her feeling that it is unfair - although the reasons she gives are wrong of course.
    I think I would be baffled why, if child ( or parent) was keen to do a little extra at home why a page from an appropriate maths text book couldn't be set for the child. That doesn't require the teacher taking time to invent questions, but the teacher knows where the child has got to in a particular topic and the parent doesn't.
    I think diffferent "issues" do crop up with parents in 11+ authorities to non 11+ authorities - both with the children who are likely to go to grammar and those who are not. It's interesting to see that you have a keen non-grammar parent and / or child.
    Hope you both feel less cross with one another next week!
     
  16. If only it were that simple! I am giving (as she sees it) tailored, individualised work for a few children. She wants the same for her child. In short, a pack of worksheets, tailored to her child's weak areas, so that she and said child can work through them. I simply cannot spare the time to do this for her, and if I did it for her, I would have to do it for all the other parents who would expect it for their children (and many would!)
    I feel sorry for the children personally, when those who are achieving well, with no major difficulties, through ordinary classwork, are made to feel that they should be doing something more than that. To me, extra work is simply for those who need it because they are falling behind or plateauing over a sustained period, not to push, push, push those who really don't need it, just so they 'keep up' with the kids at the 'top of the class'. That pecking order is, however, really important to many of our parents.

     
  17. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    So if the extra work is to take a 3a child to a 4c or a 4a to a 5c then can you give this child the level below where they are to please the mother and give the child some skills practice.

    Or, if the child is a 4b, give them access to the booster to 5c materials and let them have a go.

    I honestly think you need to give this child something to keep the mother happy or she probably will go to the HT, which will simply be a pain. You don't need to tailor it exactly, but you do need to do for all your children what you do for some unless you want disgruntled parents.

    I'd be interested in a maths package that provides online work to help children over a level boundary though...my school would definitely want to look into it.
     
  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I'm not sure why the children needed packs if it is freely available to all ... could you not just set the homework to do x,y & z from the system? that way the parent wouldn't be aware of what other children are getting.

     
  19. Yes, I'm inclined to agree. I was thinking of talking to the child anyway on Monday, just to offer reassurance that's she's doing fine (which she is) and to ask her if there are any areas she is feeling particularly wobbly in. I can go through the online system with her and point her in the direction of the bits that will be helpful and yes, as you say, remind her of the booster stuff which is freely available to her whenever she wants. I might even jot it down for mum!
    The maths package is mymaths, which I think lots of schools already use. I find it really good for homework and extra bits like the booster packs, although it maybe causes a few more problems that I hadn't anticipated! The children tend to love it because it's online, and often go on and play games etc.
     
  20. Yes, I could set the booster packs as an online instruction, but they come with a letter which I gave out in class. I could, in retrospect, simply have said to the class - some of you have an extra booster pack to complete so have a look when you log in, but I suspect I would still have had children asking each other (and parents doing the same, it's just that kind of school.
     

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