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Parent complaining about homework

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by thecagedbird, Sep 30, 2018.

  1. thecagedbird

    thecagedbird New commenter

    Not sure this is a dilemma, but not sure how to proceed so would love some advice.

    My school has a policy where we have to set homework projects. If work is not handed in to deadline the students effectively has a detention where they have to complete the work.

    I set a homework task, deadline was two weeks away. Due tomorrow. I showed students where they could get help online. I showed students examples of the same work completed. I told students repeatly that they could ask for help after a lesson, during break, lunch.

    I have an awkward student in my class. She is very rude and disruptive. She often doesn’t complete work. Parent is very argumentative. Unfortunately SLT often side with parent as it’s easier.

    The students hasn’t not asked me for help. During friday lunchtime when I teach 6th form (they have different timetable) she opened my door and shouted in “don’t get the homework not going to do it” and ran away.

    Today about lunchtime I have an email from this girls parent saying girl did not understand the homework. I did not reply as was not at work.

    What do I do? Do I set detention? Do I ignore (and lose face in front of whole class)? Do I ignore for all, reexplain and give an extension?

    I know this seems trivial, but the atmosphere at my school has made me feel so anxious about this situation that I feel like I want to phone in sick tomorrow.

    Thanks for reading.
  2. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    1. Speak with your HOD / SLT line manager about any action you do
    2. Set a detention as is school policy
    3. Reply to the email from the parent, copying in appropriate line managers, explaining the support you have given your class including times when her daughter could have sought help, and why her daughter shouting into a sixth form lesson was not an appropriate time to seek help. Phrase the email in such a way that you are making it clear that you want to support her daughter and how doing the work in detention would allow you to give some further one to one help to her daughter.

    I would not recommend leaving this as is, as you have to teach this child for the rest of the year (and potentially beyond) and allowing any form of lee way now will be taken advantage of. However, if the advice of your senior colleagues is to let it lie,then get it in writing before following their instructions
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Post #2 gives excellent advice. I'd follow that to the letter.

    PS If a pupil interrupts another lesson (esp. in the rude way described), I'd also follow a disciplinary path as regards that.
  4. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Try to create a situation where said child spends more time talking about the homework than they would have spent doing it if they could be a*sed. In short, attrition. If parent grizzles, refer them to the policy makers.

    Refer to it as 'support' at all times.
  5. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I'm sorry that Ermintrude did not understand the work, and it's a shame that she did not admit this when I reminded the class each lesson for the last two weeks of the various times they could access extra help. Fortunately we will have ample time after school tomorrow for me to explain further, and this should enable her to complete it successfully for Wednesday. I'm sure you are anxious that Ermintrude is successful in this subject; the next homework task will be set on 10th October, and if she encounters difficulties with that, I would welcome you getting in touch so that I can provide extra help before the deadline.
  6. Oldfashioned

    Oldfashioned Senior commenter

    How can we punish for homework when school is only compulsory until the end of the school day. Surely, beyond that, anything done by students at home is voluntary. There's no legal requirement beyond attending.
    monicabilongame likes this.
  7. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Weren't home school agreements introduced to ensure that recalcitrant parents had their responsibilities drummed into them? o_O
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  8. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    "When you send your child to this school you accept the school's behaviour and homework policies and understand that they are a requirement."
  9. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Legal requirements are abiding by the law, therefore no hitting/abusing / stealing etc but contract law is also in force. The parents made a contract with the school to adhere to its terms and conditions which implicitly includes homework if it is a formal school policy. Theoretically a parent may be found guilty of breach of contract, which at the moment is only usually enforced for lack of attendance.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  10. thecagedbird

    thecagedbird New commenter

    Thank-you so much for the advice given. I’ve mainly followed it, and on my line manager’s advice allowed an extension and provided her loads of support and an example. Feel better about the situation now too.
  11. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    This. Perfect. There’s no way the parent can object without looking like a fool -they say she can’t do it, you’re giving her support. She is also essentially getting the detention and learning she can’t get away with just not doing stuff.
  12. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Exactly ...she now deserves a detention. Do patients barge on their GP surgeries to care "I not taking your medicine ". ?
    agathamorse and Dragonlady30 like this.
  13. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Problem is, she actually attempted that.
    Did you say "you can ask for help any lunch time apart from Friday"?
    If not, the fact of her coming to your room during her lunch break on Friday kind of covers her back.
    And I'm guessing, from the timing of the parental email today, that she tried to see you again today, I'm also guessing that there was dialogue at home about what she had to do and when, and she was urged to see you, couldn't find you and then contacted home to tell her parent.
    If you're going to "cover your back" by explaining all the support they have had in this HWK, you also need to tell the kids which days you are not in and which lunchtimes you are not available, and have them write it down.
    Maybe you did, it's not clear from your opening post.But i do think you have mentioned some other things which are not relevant-the fact it was set two weeks ago is not really relevant, since even as professional adults we can still legitimately push things away until the last minute, nonetheless achieving deadline.
    Dunno-I find implicit criticism of this kid from you, when your criticism at first glance is only about the homework.
    Is it really relevant that she is rude and disruptive? Or that she often doesn't complete work?

    Reading my post back, I sound like the line manager I normally hate, sorry about that, but I have in fact read your post two or three times to fathom out the timing of everything here (including parental message) and do think she might have attempted to see you twice.
    Why not limit the time you make yourself available for them to seek help to, say, one or two specific lunchtimes? Put it out in whatever daily school bulletin you have, "HWK advice sessions with CagedBird every Tuesday lunchtime" or similar. job done. Then it really is demonstrably their fault if they cannot find you, and nobody can argue with it. And it'll be nice for you to not have to avail yourself "always". Why should you? You're far busier than any of them...
  14. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    She didn't ask for help on the Friday lunchtime - she merely shouted through the door that she had no intention of doing it - perhaps so when parents asked "did you go and see Ms Cagedbird" she could say "yes, and she didn't help me"!
    agathamorse and jlishman2158 like this.
  15. thecagedbird

    thecagedbird New commenter

    I asked for help about this situation because the student is often difficult in lessons and teachers haven’t had backing from line managers or SLT once her parent has complained about teaching staff (not me) before. The situation of teachers being blamed for things in my school by SLT makes me very anxious.

    I mentioned the work had been set two weeks ago to show that she had a lot of time to ask for help, but didn’t take it. Obviously, she didn’t need to complete the work prior to the deadline, but according to school policy it needed to be handed in on Monday or she would receive a study support session of one hour after school to complete it then. It is the students’ responsibility to ensure they understand what they need to do in order to meet their set deadline. Instead I had an email from the parent late on Sunday night to say she didn’t understand so couldn’t do it. I don’t work Sundays- surely we are not expected to respond to emails on days off? Therefore I couldn’t respond to her until Monday morning the day work was due and the study support set.

    I felt a little bit stuck between rock and hard place- get into trouble with SLT for not setting study support as per policy or get in trouble with SLT when parent complained I had not provided help. This is what was causing my anxiety.

    I gave examples of when students could get help in my initial post; to further clarify in my school teacher’s timetables are printed just outside the classroom door and I did make students aware which lunchtimes I teach year 12. Also, I suggested staying at the end of the lessons which are before break and lunchtime. In this instance: my classroom is by the toilet... this student shouted at me through the open door, surrounded by laughing friends not from my class, on the way to the toilet and definitely wasn’t coming to see me to check what she needed to do. You might view this information differently; but her manner did not suggest she was looking for genuine help and was instead pleased she could cause some disruption to my lesson (this incident was dealt with through our behaviour policy and resulted in her getting an official warning).
  16. thecagedbird

    thecagedbird New commenter

    Also, the task in question didn’t really require much clarification. The student in question is a year 9. As a whole department we set very similar revision type tasks. In this case they needed to turn a synopsis of Much Ado About Nothing (provided) into a flowchart of key points or a revision poster of key plot points. They have completed the same task for different plays and prose texts during Year 7 and Year 8. Other students who asked for help wanted clarification over number of points they had to include, whether they were allowed to complete on a computer or needed to colour the flow-chart in etc.
  17. Happyregardless

    Happyregardless Occasional commenter

    "Unfortunately SLT often side with parent as it’s easier." - NEVER! ;)

    Not being flippant - just that many of us have had this experience - you're not alone

    What a lot of children and parents need is to be told a few home truths about how their own attitude and behaviour affect their progress, but unfortunately, as you have outlined again, if SLT side with parent, regardless of what NEEDS to be said, it takes the target of focus off of them and onto you and then YOU then become 'the problem', regardless of how misguided this may be. Sadly, 'blame the teacher' has become the favourite worldy weapon of warfare, masking lack of personal responsibility in almost everyone else in society!
    agathamorse and JohnJCazorla like this.

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