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Reporting to and meeting parents... What's the best system?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by gbeastall, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. Our school is a rural secondary comprehensive with about 900 students, including sixth form.

    We don't have parent's evenings, we have academic monitoring sessions. These are basically parental meetings with the form tutor (who often doesn't teach the child, and if they do only for one subject). The meetings last for about 20 mins during which time the form tutor interprets a grade report and discusses targets with the parent and child.

    In most regards this isn't very effective, with the exception that we initially got quite a good parental turn out (85-90%) especially when compared with subject based parent evenings (more like 35-40%).

    My feeling's are that reporting to parents should primarily:

    1 - Strengthen teacher-parent relationships,
    2 - Give quality, subject based information that will help the student improve, preferably with the parents help,
    3 - Give real information about the attitude and behaviour of the student that will allow the parent to be genuinely supportive of the school and therefore the student,
    4 - Be an opportunity to celebrate the students successes,
    5 - Be an opportunity for collecting feedback from parents about the school from their perspective.

    What system does your school employ and does it work?
     
  2. I completely agree.
    I was shocked to see my child's Y1 GCSE grades. "Parents evening" part way throught the year gave no inkling that there was such drastic problems, and there had been no communication from teachers to suggest that anything had taken a turn for the worse. We go from 'needs to be more organised and give fuller answers' to virtual fails on chunks of GCSEs.
    So, yes, communication between teachers and parents does need to improve. Problems need to be spotted earlier and parents need to be told so they can support child.
    The utter silence made me wonder if teachers did any assessment for learning at all, I wonder if they were as suprised by the grades as I was.
     
  3. Is it just me who really struggles with parents' evenings? I am generally all geared up to say "little Johnny is an absolute nightmare" yet when the parents are sat in front of me the words somehow change to "little Johnny is doing fine".

    I know that this is something that I need to work on but the few times that I have criticised a child to their parents, the parents normally turn it back on me and suggest it's me who's doing something wrong. A particular favourite is the parent who complained because I said her son (doing 'A' level English) hadn't bothered to read the novel that we were studying yet. I then went on to say his mark in his last essay was abysmal. She then rounded on me for being completely unfair to her son - how could I expect him to get a good mark when he hadn't read the book and by making him complete the essay I was setting him up for failure. I should have instead taken the fact that he hadn't yet read the book into account and adjusted the grade upwards accordingly. That we were now 2 months into the course and ample homework time had been set to read the book (in addition to the fact that the text choices were released before the summer holidays to the then Year 11) seemed irrelevant to her. As did the fact that the examiner would not grade inflate because her poor darling couldn't be bothered to read the book.
     
  4. I really am looking for an insight into the systems that different schools employ. We need a change and I'm looking for some genuine experiences. Any help anyone?
     
  5. frustum

    frustum Established commenter

    In some schools, that could mean two parents evenings a week for that half-term, and a heck of a lot of report-writing all at once. It's bad enough for the music/RE teachers having to do an entire year group at once. (Yes, it used to be done like that, but in those days, the content tended to be one sentence for core subjects and "Satisfactory" for some others.) Teaching at those times of year is likely to suffer.
    Putting aside the issue of teaching workload, it is perhaps important to look at the function of each reporting element. A report at the end of year 9 may be a purely summative one, especially in subjects they will not continue to study. A mid-year report may give a chance to work on the areas a teacher has highlighted before moving on to a new teacher, as well as an overall picture before options are chosen.

    I sometimes wonder whether, rather than having each parents' evening very specifically for one year group, whether there might be some mileage in making each "primarily year X", but also inviting parents from other year groups - where there is a concern, or perhaps if they were due to attend the previous one but couldn't make it.
     
  6. Thank you for the parent's perspective. I am a parent myself with children at both secondary and primary school but I often think my judgements are clouded by being a teacher too.
     
  7. I like the primarily Year X idea.

    Does anyone collapse their timetable and have parents in during the day? Does it work well? How is it organised?
     
  8. phlogiston

    phlogiston Lead commenter

    At traditional parents evenings, I normally meet the nice parents whose children get positive encouragement (but also lots of information about coursework, module exams and such like). The ones I'd really like to see don't seem to make it very often.
    Our management want to reach the "hard to reach parents" and we are moving towards tutor based meetings. Parents not enthused yet, I fear that I will spend half an hour spreading the remains from bovine intestines. I also suspect that I will catch it in the neck when certain parents don't want to come in.
    What would we do without progress?
    P
     
  9. alisum

    alisum New commenter

    My children's school does this - we have to go in for an hour during the teaching day to meet the form tutor and to discuss progress against target grades and to set personal targets for the year ahead. It's useful for an overview, and you do get 10 -15 minutes with the tutor, so you can have a conversation. BUT you don't get sensible feedback on any subject, neither can you feedback to a subject teacher. You have to be at the end of Y10 before you see a subject teacher (for the traditional 5 minutes so they don't say much either).
    They only see one year group at a time, so eventually I will need say 2 hours off (to allow for travelling time), 3 times per year, as I will have 3 children at the school. Pupils have to attend the meeting, but not the rest of the day in school (so I may have to pick them up as well). Pupils from other years have a normal timetable, but with cover for those tutors meeting parents.
    Swings and roundabouts. I know many people have trouble getting time off work, although the school does extend the day at either end - say 8am to 5pm - but you can't go at lunchtime. (Yes, I know teachers are allowed a lunchbreak, but taking it at the one time most people can get to the meeting is an interesting strategy!) I can see it is much better for the staff. No idea on takeup, but the assumption is that you will attend.
     
  10. phlogiston

    phlogiston Lead commenter

    My school has abolished the "day off to set targets with the tutor" day. [​IMG]
    At least one tutor had few parents coming during the school day, they all (understandably) wanted appointments before or after their own working days. School managers seem to assume that peple who are not teachers can get time off whenever they like.
    P
     
  11. Hi Phlogiston
    Oh Dear! Several points. Target setting days work badly. It is what the school does to create strategies for improvement with parents that is important. The best system is vertical tutoring and by a mile. However the school has to understand VT as a system which most don't. Happy to walk you through why this is so.
     
  12. Please do. Maybe our school hasn't committed fully enough to the VT concept.
     

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