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Disagreeing with your own child's teacher

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by ally8421, Jul 19, 2018.

  1. ally8421

    ally8421 New commenter

    This is a hard one and not one that I wwould have liked to have found myself in.

    My son is a Summer born boy and just finishing his first year in Reception. He can be a little shy but once warmed up he is very confident. I have been on maternity leave this year so I've had the oppurtunity to work loads with him at home. I am an experinced Early Years Teacher who has been working between Reception and year 1 for 7 years so feel I know the framework fairly well. My son is definitely not exceeding in any areas but I would have put him at expected for most of the 17 areas bar writing.

    I have attended all parents, evenings, workshops, events, trips and specifically asked his teacher if he felt he was due to meet expected and if he was on track and I have always been told yes. Parent's evenings have been short and I always felt he didn't really talk about my son specifically, we were all handed a generic work sheet. I wasn't too impressed with their record keeping. My son has a topic book, it very generic and you can't really build up a picture of the child from it as there is not one qoute or observation. I presumed there must be observations elsewhere ie 2simple and it would be shared with us at the end of the year. But I was always respectful and made sure we were both on the same page. There never was any concerns about my son other than he can lack in confidence but is improving. His teacher is rather awkward and doesn't really talk to parents and avoids eye contact. I know everyone is different. Again I just brushed it off and presumed his skills must lie in the classroom as it is a reputable school.

    Imagine my horror when I read my sons report, it didn't sound like him and he was put in emerging for all area's bar technology. I am in total shock.
    My son came into Reception on track. I asked after the Baseline Assessments and was told he was on track. I asked at both Parent's Evenings and told he was on track. I am appauled by the lack of communication.

    It's left me asking these questions. Why was this never communicated with me? Has my son had any intervention? Where are his observations?

    I feel I have let my son down in some way. I emailed the head straight away and explained the situation. A few days later the teacher has given me letter and explained that it was best fit, he doesn't have the observations to support him getting expected and it was his confidence and independence holding him back. He then said he accidently ticked a few boxes wrong on the report and he actually got the elg for 4 areas including Number . I had my son with me and my baby so I said I want to talk about this in a formal meeting. I frankly feel it is not good enough, I know he has met many of these goals. For example moving and handling. My son can hold a pencil correctly, form letters and write on the line, he can swim 250 metres, ride scooters and bikes, climb equipment and so on. His imagination and creativity is something strangers, friends and colleagues comment on, its very strong. He builds models all of the time using a variety of materials at home and at school. He knows all his high frequency words and with encouragement can read yellow books at home.

    I know children can act very different at school but it baffles me the fundamental personality of my son has not come through at all in an early years setting. If there were concerns then why wasn't I told because I would have tried to help him overcome his lack of confidence. It's not even the academic side that has upset me it's everything else. I personally find children can display many of these goals just observing them in the Learning environment.

    Sorry for this long message and I thank anyone who takes the time to read it. It's obviously close to my heart and I want to stay professional but what would you do now? Can the data be changed? In my heart of hearts I feel the record keeping has not been good, my son is quiet and he may have slipped out of view. He said there wasn't enough evidence but he was just on the cusp for everything. The TA also told me that he is not actually in Reception for much of the day as he mainly works in yr1 and 2. He had no idea how the teacher did observations.

    All in all I know my childs own personality and abilities. I take him to the park and I watch how he interacts with friends. At times he can be shy but has a very lovely nature, very sharing, kind and considerate. He can hold his own if need be but isn't loud like some children. I agree he can lack a bit of confidence at times. But I still feel his report and goals do not reflect him. I wish I could have supported him and worked with the teacher so he could have shined.

    All advice welcome
  2. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Lead commenter

    Hi ally.
    I can understand your frustration more so because nothing was communicated either you earlier.
    The school have a duty to comment on his characteristics of effective learning, have they done so? This will tell you about how they see him as a learner. It is very common for less confident quiet or shy children to not demonstrate what they can do in a class situation, and this will be the most important thing to support him with. Also were they moderated this year?

    My grandson was like this. He got emerging in everything except number, mainly because he hardly spoke during his reception year, but never stopped talking at home. Now in year three is is well in line with his peers, is confident, a buddy for younger children, and has developed a real love of reading. When we unpicked how he was in reception, we put it down to the fact that he was in a mixed R/1 class and there was a lot of different adults in his class. Basically there was no key person system in place so he never knew who to go to. I really believe the lack of a proper key person system in reception, despite being statutory, is a travesty for children like your son and my grandson.

    In good schools, the profile should be created in partnership with parents. In practice it doesn't always happen. I know some school have used video evidence from home to contribute to their profile, and if you had known this earlier, you may have been able to do this too.

    Unfortunately the cut off date for submitting data to the LA has passed now, so it can't be changed. But once your son becomes more confident, he will fly, so that's the thing to really work on. My grandson started at ending clubs after school and that helped him, then in year 2 he was cast as Joseph in the nativity and we couldn't believe he would actually stand up in front of alll the parents and say his lines! But he did.

    I would raise key points with the head, so that things can improve in the future. You could also ask for more regular feedback in year one so that you know what's going on, and then ask how they are going to support his confidence with you next year.
    ally8421 and LunaBlue123 like this.
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    How much does it matter really?
    He'll still trundle off to year 1 and have a great time learning and playing.
    Yes, it is a pain not to feel your child's report totally reflects him and it would have been nicer to know this sooner, but how much does it actually matter?
  4. StarbucksCovfefe

    StarbucksCovfefe Occasional commenter

    I know it feels huge, and upsetting, but I agree, it just doesn't really matter. I'd suggest shrugging it off, and watching how he gets on next year. The report doesn't 'mean' anything, your child has still achieved what he's achieved so far. Just throw it away, and continue being a great parent.

    As an aside, the comment about asking the TA felt a little off to me, " He had no idea how the teacher did observations."....he's not expected to. Its the teachers job, not his.
  5. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Lead commenter

    Actually everyone working with the children should be contributing to the profile, which means TAs should be doing observations and feeding back to the teacher, even if they aren't written down, which of course, they don't need to be. In good schools this will be happening as a norm, so the TA should know.
    gingerhobo48 likes this.
  6. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    I'm with @caterpillartobutterfly - it doesn't change anything, your boy can still do what he can do and is who he is although that hasn't been reflected well in his report. We all understand why you feel so strongly though. It does throw up questions about that teacher for you but your son is moving on now. Don't let him hear ongoing criticisms if at all possible - it wont help his confidence if he knows there's a continuing dispute between home and school Lets hope your boy is happy at school and will go on making progress next year.
  7. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    I totally understand how you feel, as a parent every stage is so important and you know your child best. I am sure you will look back on this in a years time and see that it wasn't quite such a big deal. At the moment you feel sorry for your child that his teacher hasn't noticed all the wonderful things he can do. I think this is part of the problem with the EYFS. You are supposed to have evidence of "work" or observations to prove they can do something before you can tick it off. I used to dread parents disagreeing their ability if we hadn't observed something at school. Some schools are more open to sharing the profile and getting the parents comments a long the way but EYFS still have a difficult job. Most teachers know their children well but can find it hard getting observations of everything.
    There is also the situation of not marking them too highly lower down so the school can show more progress later. We used to get children coming from pre school at 3 1/2 already having everything ticked off in the 30-50 months because they wanted to show progress!
    I wonder whether this teacher might be fairly new to EYFS , the Head has now been made aware of your concerns so if there is a real problem hopefully there will be more support next year. The TA should be fully involved in observations but possibly fobbed you off a bit as didn't feel it was her place to discuss it as the teacher is in charge at the end of the day
  8. Crowbob

    Crowbob Senior commenter

    Does this report now mean your child can't do the things you know he can? No. Then what does it really matter?
    It is great that you have had this 1-2-1 time with your child and helped them develop and grow and observe the wonderful things he can do. Your child's teacher is dealing with volume and all the pressures that come with being a teacher. Does this mean that they might have missed stuff? Yes.

    Do you think that you may have missed something with children in your care in the past? Maybe, you will never know because, by definition, you will have missed it.

    Your going to the Head directly 'and straight away' seems a little extreme and will likely just have caused grief for the teacher involved. Move on, get over it and give a fellow professional a bit of a break. You don't seem like you were that unhappy - grumbles aside- with how things had been going through the year and so what does the (largely meaningless) piece of paper ACTUALLY mean? Even if the teacher was less than perfect - such is life. This is why your support at home is so important.

    Sorry if this all sounds a bit cold but it is just my honest view.
  9. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    Those words and that reporting system mean different things to different people. It was introduced in a school I was working in (can't remember all the words, but Emerging was definitely one) but there was this idea that they had to show progress from year to year. Nonsense, but we were definitely encouraged to give lower classifications in first term so that progression through the year would be shown. Ludicrous I know and it caused a great deal of stress and turmoil (and more than one departure).
    Could it be that there's something of this mentality at work here? That your child's teacher has given 'Emerging' because next year, fully emerged, he will make a better grade?

    (For some people, the word emerging probably makes them think of a crysallis and the emergence of a beautiful butterfly. For me it makes me think of the primordial soup.)
    nizebaby likes this.
  10. zippygeorgeandben

    zippygeorgeandben Occasional commenter

    Wow hmm... where to start?
    I'm not normally good at writing long responses (I'm just not coherent enough) so I will bullet point what springs to mind when reading your OP.
    Give you some background, I'm an EYFS lead/teacher and moderator for the LA.
    • Several established commentators saying 'What does it really matter'? Whilst this may have been written to reassure you, if it doesn't 'really matter' then what's the point in having an EYFS curriculum at all. Just don't teach them anything! To me, it does matter. I was at a party last Saturday, it was the day after many parents had got reports and they spoke so proudly about how their son/daughter got greater depth for this, lovely report etc. you must have felt that you couldn't share because it wasn't a positive report.
    • You must feel that the teacher doesn't really know your child at all, and it doesn't seem like they do.
    • If I knew I had an EY teacher as a parent, I'd have made 100% sure I had evidence to back up judgements.
    • Do they ask parents to contribute to profiles?
    • Are the characteristics of learning woven into the report?
    • Is there a record kept of parent consultation notes throughout the year? At my school we make notes/targets so if a parent isn't happy with the end of year report, we can say 'Well we spoke about this during the consultation.'
    • Not ONE quote or observation for a whole year? ALARM BELLS
    • No 2simple evidence for you to see. I'd be asking about this. Is the HT or EYFS lead aware of this? Are they hiding behind GDPR? Are they too slow to print out their profiles? Do you get to look at the topic book or anything else throughout the year?
    • Children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools. They select and use technology for particular purposes. This is the expected descriptor for Technology which he has achieved. How has he demonstrated this I wonder? As a moderator I would be wanting to see evidence for this. He obviously cannot speak about it as he hasn't achieved 'Children express themselves effectively' from the speaking element of the ELG. How is he selecting and using technology? Not by using a mouse because his control isn't worthy enough of getting expected.
    • Did he go to the onsite Nursery? (as you can tell these points don't flow but they are in my mind)
    • The teacher clicked a few wrong buttons? Was his report quality assured by someone else? i.e. SLT?
    • Who contributes to the profiles? Do TAs make observations? Reading between the lines I'm saying no.
    I'm sorry you feel this about reading the report. I know how much parents value reports but you must feel that all those consultation meetings/asking about attainment and progress meant absolutely nothing because you were obviously being fed misinformation.
    You've two choices now;
    1) Let it fester away and make you bitter about it.
    2) Take a deep breath, rise above it and enjoy the park with your son who sounds lovely and I'd teach him in a heartbeat.
  11. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Yeps! This is probably the problem at heart...
    We aren't saying the curriculum doesn't matter, nor that teaching and learning doesn't matter...more than end of year gradings aren't important until year 11 and year 13. Other than for parental showing off, there is no need to send reports home with end of year attainment!

    But of course, this is TES, we must make sure we vilify the school and the teacher, even without knowing the full story.
  12. BlondeBimbo29

    BlondeBimbo29 New commenter

    I agree with Zippy. It sounds to me like the teacher really doesn’t know your little boy at all. I get that some children are quieter and so you may need to go looking for evidence more than you would for others but that’s exactly what you would do – to make sure your judgement is accurate. As a teacher, but more so as a parent, I am angry on your behalf. Year one teachers will take the EYFS scores base their initial judgements of children on this. If they’re not accurate, or have been inputted incorrectly, this could have a huge impact on expectations for a child in year one. I’m not a complaining parent and usually always take a teacher’s side. However, in this case, I think you need to take it further.
  13. ABCCBA123321

    ABCCBA123321 Occasional commenter

    I did disagree with my own child's teacher initial assessment of them at the start of the year - told them I thought they'd misjudged them and fallen for the initial impression they tend to give of "awww lovely kid... not very able" when actually they're blooming well sharp!

    They took it on board and as the term went on pretty much agreed I was right. No animosity or anything - just an acceptance that me warning them this was a deceptive little person wasn't overly-deluded parent or anything but was the truth!

    Although it shouldn't rationally have mattered (all this stuff about being the same child as they were 10 minutes previously) - it HAD really blooming hurt (more than I anticipated it would do to be honest - it's surprised me) to be told that there was this view that my kid wasn't going to make the expected level of attainment at the end of the year - they flipping well did in the end! (Report still made me cry but in terms of how lovely it was... my other kid's one was full of all the euphemisms I know full well, and they know full well I know, that they can be a gobby little horror in class - under no illusions on that one either!)

    Next teacher has been forewarned not to fall for the "lovely kid but not quite with it" routine either!
  14. busylizzie45

    busylizzie45 New commenter

    I do wonder about parity of assessment when children transition between settings (from home to pre-school to reception and from EYFS into KS1 and beyond). The way children are assessed differs according to which curriculum they are under for their age and stage in the UK and the environment is a big factor. Peer groups can affect a child's confidence levels positively or negatively and how much evidence of attainment is therefore gathered. I currently teach mixed age year 1 and 2. Children assessed as exceeding at the end of EYFS don't necessarily achieve greater depth in year 1 - they spend most of the year adjusting to a completely different set of values for achievement (ie -in year 1 - suddenly must sit down and plough through reading, writing and maths at a desk and writing in books mainly - not child initiated at all!). It's a shame - but - huge learning curve to get to A.R.E at the end of year 2. In Scandinavia, they wouldn't be subjected to this structure until older and more resilient. Let's just say it's a good thing children get different teachers every year...different learning styles, different teaching styles...sooner or later they click and it's best not to get hung up on one end of year report. 'Learning without limits' should be the mantra. (I'm a Mum of two grown up boys btw and it is not easy to establish mutual trust with teachers, with or without a teaching background! ). I hope this helps give a little perspective.
    [I particularly liked lindenlea's comment]
  15. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    WOW! That's a shame for those children, and totally different for what I've done in both year 1 and 2. Definitely not sitting at a desk for very much of the time in year 1 and heaps of practical learning. Even in year 2, where much is at a desk, it certainly could never be described as 'ploughing through'.

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