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Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by way2serious, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. Hi. I am a relatively new HT - have been in post just over a year. I generally have a good relationship with parents but have found out from colleagues of local schools that some have been to enquire about places in their schools without having raised any issues with me. From what I have been told by my colleagues and the little bit I have managed to find out, the parents concerned have made up their minds to move their children but don't seem to have major gripes about our school. I don't think it's a specific group of parents who have got together and they seem to be for different reasons - children in different year groups,etc.
    The schools in my area are very competitive which is not something I am used to, although I am certainly not saying that my colleagues have actively sought to attract these children.
    I feel very hurt by it all and am taking it very personally which I know is silly. I am also concerned about the public perception of the school and whether this will set a trend.
    Any advice about how to deal with this would be very welcome.
  2. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    As you say, if the parents have made their minds up then let them go. I would get yhour school in the local press as much as possible starting now. This will raise the profile of your school and attract new families and also make your moving parents see what they're missing.
    This happens quite a bit in our area with 4 primary schools in a 3 mile radius (rural area), children come and go, often for non specific reasons.
  3. All schools have children who are in the catchment of other schools and I'm sure you will have some that should be at another school. I used to take it really to heart when a parent decided to move, now I take the view that we are probably better off without them. Try not to take it personally, parents sometimes move for the most trivial reasons.
    Good advice above about getting some positive publicity for your school. Every half term I do a 'looking back' newsletter telling all parents about the positives that have gone on around the school, sometimes they are only really aware of their own child's activities.

  4. Thank you both for your words of support. We are not very good as a school at blowing our own trumpet and definitely need to do more of this.
    Millymoodle, I like your idea of a half termly letter for the parents - I think that I will do that.
  5. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Parents ! Aaargh! I feel your pain. Focus on the ones who are happy, if they outnumber the unhappy ones, you're doing ok!
    Accept that you'll never please all the people all the time.
    I sometimes think we should fit revolving doors for some of our parents. They don't like something the teacher says ( if they tell the child off for example) and so they move schools. Then the teacher at the new school does the same. They move again. Eventually they run out of schools and come back! Aaargh!
  6. katycustard

    katycustard Occasional commenter

    We've just had Ofsted and one parent, out of those who returned the questionnaire, is not happy with school and does not think the school is well led or managed. Even though all the other parents had been really positive (over a third of all parents replied) I have been racking my brains to think 'who isn't happy, why haven't they been to see me' etc. Silly really, but I guess it's human nature to think like that.
  7. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Totally, typical teacher behaviour. One of my governors said to me today 2 parents are unhappy, about 300 aren't. If it was the other way around you'd have a problem. The 2 unhappy ones have the problem.Focus on the 300. She was right of course. If theyre so deeply unhappy let them go elsewhere.
    Sometimes we're our own worst enemy
  8. mychuck

    mychuck New commenter

    Where parents are concerned it is so hard not to take it personnally. They are very capable at telling us what they think directly or via questionnaires [some are spineless and don't sign their questionnaires], unfortunately we are not in a position to tell them what we think of them. Boy how I would love to!!!
    We have several small schools in our area and parents love to 'pop' into a school to see if they have a place for their child. They will move children for a variety of reasons:
    <ol>[*]The teacher dared to tell their 'precious' off[*]You as HT did not jump to their demands[*]They don't like mixed aged classes [even though they will move them to another school with mixed aged classes][*]Their precious has had a fall out with someone elses precious and so your school has a 'severe bullying problem'</ol>The list is endless. They encourage their children to lie when they have taken them on a visit to a neighbouring school and some children have had so much 'dentistry' work done they make Jaws from the Bond films look like a novice.
    You will never please them all and neither should you try. As a school we send out an annual questionnaire and our returns make good reading. Parents would like:
    • The school to teach Chinese, Spanish, French, German, particularly to YR children
    • Weed the path outside school - as it is messy.
    • Have a covered waiting area designated for parents only
    • Allow children to cycle to school but continue to protest about the main road outside school being unsafe due to heavy traffic particularly the use of heavy goods lorries which mount the pavement because the sharp bend is not suitable for these type of vehicles.
    • Sort out the dog mess problem in the village as children may step into it on the way to school
    • Ensure all class teachers are available to speak to parents on a daily basis about their child's progress when they drop their children of at the before and after school provision ie at 7.30am and 6pm.
    • Stop achieving awards like Dyslexia Friendly status as this means there is less focus on learning
    I could go on!!
    You need rhino skin for this job where parents are concerned. I would like to add that there are nice ones out there as well.
  9. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Mychuck - your examples from your parent questionnaire are priceless!
    In secondary the same phenomenon happens - parents take children out of school for the same dodgy reasons, sometimes on a bizarre whim - and then some want to bring them back. That this bouncing their children around doesn't help the child' progress one bit doesn't seem to occur to them.
  10. mychuck

    mychuck New commenter

    Yes MM and unfortunately all those comments from parents are genuine!!
  11. I teach at one school and my kids go to another. I would have moved my kids at least 4 times by now, if the schools (not miine) had the appropriate subjects or exam boards. I think that's how they control things out here (Suffolk) - make sure you have a different exam board at each school and then once you get kids in Y9, you've got them through to the end. Every time their school does something which makes me see red, I look into it again. Now, I've only got one more year to go and my kids are finished with that pathetic excuse of a school. When Ofsted came they gave it an outstanding and the only thing that makes this the least bit palatable is that the Leader on the Ofsted team actually rang me to discuss my concerns. He agreed with me that the school had not supported my 4 children and understood the difficulties I have had trying to get my kids out of the school. It didn't change anything but it made me feel better.
  12. I wouldn't presume that parental school choices are all to do with the schools themselves, a lot of the decision is social- friends going to the same school, bus routes, older family members who help with childcare, or even health reasons of the carers. There also seems little point trying to get a child moved if there are no places available in the desired school, therefore it would make sense to enquire at the desired school first- it doesn't mean they do not wish to talk through any problems, it might just be testing the water.
    Some parents do find it very hard to come in and talk to authority figures...yet manage to moan to friends!
    I guess I am saying not to take it personally, partly because it might be nothing to do with the school, but also because you will never please them all.

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