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To expect my grandchildren to be given a good education?

(63 Posts)
gillybob Wed 16-Oct-13 15:35:41

I have mentioned before that my grandchildren go to a school with a very poor Ofsted report. I am becomming more and more disillusioned with the schools "we are working towards......." attitude and want to see some action.

On Monday I was helping my 7 year old with her homework. The five year old mentioned that she had not had a reading book for several weeks. She could read well when she started school (as could her older sister) and is a very bright child (despite the school). I asked her why she didnt have a book and she said that the teacher said she didnt have time to see where she was at with reading as most of her classmates are only just learning to read. She asked me to write a note to the teacher and I said that I wouldn't write a note but I would have a word with her at "in time", which I did. I said I appreciated that she was busy with other children but could she please at least have a reading book ( and ideally some homework) as she is becomming bored with school. The teacher smiled and very patronisingly said "Oh dear we can't have that can we? I will see what I can do". at this point my darling little grandaughter handed the teacher a note that read:

Dear Teecha

Can you plees give G a readin book plees and some homwurk aswel.

Love Grandma xx

We both burst out laughing but still no reading book or homework either !
angry I wonder what it will take.

Stansgran Wed 16-Oct-13 16:16:48

Gillybob have a look at the Book People. They have the oxford reading books very cheaply and on line you can have reading eggs. DGC3 who is 6 has a new reading book every night so talk to the head . That is just negligence IMO on the teachers part.

gillybob Wed 16-Oct-13 16:24:30

Yes thanks Stansgran I have already bought quite a few and she has happily worked her way through them. Biff, Chip and Floppy ! The thing that worries me is not the fact that I (or her parents) cannot provide her with reading material it is the fact that she seems to be being ignored and we all know what becomes of children who are bored with school. The school is quite literally going down the pan. They are massivley short of teaching staff (3 left during the 6 weeks holiday that they were expecting back) and the classes are virtually all split. My older grandaughter (7) loved school last term and hates it this term as she has already had three temporary teachers who don't know or even get to know the children. It's frustrating to say the least.

Mishap Wed 16-Oct-13 17:02:00

Oh this is so sad! Home education maybe?

harrigran Wed 16-Oct-13 17:29:53

Write to Sir Chris Woodhead at the Sunday Times was HM Chief inspector of Schools in England.

annodomini Wed 16-Oct-13 17:41:25

The governing body has oversight of the curriculum. When I was chair of governors, we had curriculum reports every term, usually from two subject coordinators. Parent governors were, of course, especially interested. It might pay to speak to a parent governor about this issue so that it can be raised with the head teacher and/or the governing body.

harrigran Wed 16-Oct-13 17:48:40

Chris Woodhead's book " A Desolation of learning: is this the education our children deserve " ?

Mamie Wed 16-Oct-13 18:07:16

That sounds really difficult, gillybob. Is the school in special measures or another category? Is it an LA school? I think it would be helpful for your GD's parents to put their concerns in writing to the head and Chair of Governors in a very factual way and copy it to the LA. Am happy to help if you want to PM me.
Chris Woodhead is long gone from Ofsted and I wouldn't recommend that route.

Granny23 Wed 16-Oct-13 18:37:58

DGD1 has been reading fluently since she was 4. In Nursery school she was allowed to chose a book each day and read it out loud to the rest of the class. She was somewhat ignored in Primary 1 but carried on reading voraciously at home. Now 6 and in Primary 2, she and 2 others leave the class at reading time, go to the library, pick a book each from the 7-11 shelf, take it home, read it overnight and swop it each day. The 3 keep a record of what they have read and their teacher hears them read out loud from time to time.

DGD1 has been 'teaching' 4-y-o DGD2 (her cousin) who can now read simple books (and everything on the computer).

OTOH DGS has struggled terribly with reading, panicking and making wild guesses. All of a sudden in P2 thanks to a new teacher he 'got it' and in one half term has become one of the best readers in his class.

I am aware this is 'anecdotal' but my point is that all children learn differently, often taking major leaps forward rather than making steady progress. Their progress has little to do with their actual age which makes it difficult to cater for individuals when classes are streamed by age not ability.

FlicketyB Wed 16-Oct-13 20:08:50

gillybob, at least you know why the school got a poor Ofsted report. A teacher like that shouldn't be teaching. I would do exactly what Mamie recommends.

DGD, aged 6, is at a school whose catchment area is divided fairly equally between a council estate with a lot of families with problems and an estate of nice 1930s semis full of professional people. The school recently had a poor Ofsted report, but the problems were very narrowly focussed. DGD is doing very well there. They do a lot to help the bright children like her, it is to the schools advantage, that their bright children flourish and from what I have heard do well by the other children as well.

However her class teacher this year, who is deputy head, is currently on sick leave suffering from stress and DS & DDiL have yet to work out whether his replacement is a fully qualified teacher or a classroom assistant.

I think every child should have a right to be taught by a fully qualified teacher and that younger ones are not palmed off with less qualified staff.

Humbertbear Wed 16-Oct-13 20:41:47

Gillybob your posting made me cry. It is outrageous that this sort of thing is still going on. You are obviously doing all you can to ameliorate the situation.
I agree with Mamie about putting your concerns in writing.
Chris Woodhead answers readers questions on education in the Sunday Times every week and it might be worth contacting him.

j08 Wed 16-Oct-13 20:55:32

I agree totally with what Mamie said. Very good advice.

annodomini Wed 16-Oct-13 21:33:47

When my GD, now 11, went into year 3, she was well ahead of the rest of the class in reading. The teacher encouraged her and some other advanced readers to help the slower readers, as well as to read their own choice of books. She is now a well-known face in two public libraries and also has her own Kobo electronic reader.

POGS Wed 16-Oct-13 21:51:39


You are in a similar situation to my family.

Prior to starting school we spent a lot of time with our GD, who is 7 years old by coincidence. She was no genius by any stretch of the imagination, don't get me wrong, simply able to read quite well, her vocabulary is brilliant and she could do simple sums. She is funny and has a kind nature.

We had taught her through play and written sums to add using the conventional method of say 10+
The school told us to stop immediately as they will not use that method of adding until she is 8!. She is 7 and her maths is still similar to 6 + 4= 10. She has moved class again this September and is not at all happy. She is loosing a spark and says her teacher is boring and shouts a lot. She brings home reading books similar to the ones she had when she started school.

Perhaps we have been wrong, I don't know? It is very difficult to strike the right balance isn't it. You don't want to upset the school but you equally don't want to see your children getting poor teaching.

vampirequeen Wed 16-Oct-13 22:20:08

Find out if guided reading is taking place every day and what her reading level is. If she is doing guided reading join the local library if you haven't already and take books from there. Speak to the librarian as she/he will be able to help you choose.

I know the teacher should be sending books home but if she's not you can bypass that bit and do it yourself.

vampirequeen Wed 16-Oct-13 22:23:11

If she's not doing guided reading go into the school and raise holy hell because that's the only time formal reading teaching takes place.

FlicketyB Thu 17-Oct-13 07:24:05

and people are surprised that education levels in the UK are so low!

gillybob Thu 17-Oct-13 07:53:32

Just a quick reply (for now) as have a very busy day ahead. Thank you all so much for your very interesting and helpful replies. I will be looking at things in more detail tonight/tomorrow. Have a lovely day everyone and thanks again. smile

Deedaa Thu 17-Oct-13 22:35:32

My grandson was getting very bored last year and kept complaining that he already knew everything they were doing (possible exaggeration on his part!" His teacher complained that he always seemed to be the centre of attention in the class and my daughter was tempted to say "Perhaps he's just more interesting than you!"
Fortunately he seems to be finding this year more interesting.

Mamie Fri 18-Oct-13 08:18:22

I think people need to think a bit before making too many sweeping judgements. This is clearly a school with problems, given what Gillybob says about staff turnover and split classes. I assume that it has had an Ofsted report that has identified these problems and required an action plan. If it is an LA school then advisers will be involved, although staff in LAs have suffered huge cutbacks and many skilled and experienced people have gone because of funding cuts.
I do find it a touch ironic that people on other threads pile in to criticise Ofsted, local advisers and the publication of progress data and then fail to recognise that it is these structures for accountability that bring things to light.
This is clearly an unsatisfactory situation for Gillybob's grandchildren and a clear and factual letter, setting out evidence of the impact on the children will help those working to put things right.

Mamie Fri 18-Oct-13 08:30:02

These are the quarterly statistics from Ofsted.
"Key findings for the latest official statistics: April to June 2013
Of the inspected open schools over three quarters (78%, 16,652) are currently judged to be good or outstanding.
There has been a nine percentage point increase since August 2012 in the percentage of schools judged at their most recent inspection to be good or outstanding. This means over 5.6 million pupils are receiving a good or outstanding standard of education, over 600,000 more than in August 2012.
The increase of nine percentage points in the proportion of schools judged to be good or outstanding at their most recent inspection represents a much more rapid improvement than that seen in previous years.
The East of England has improved the least since August 2012 (six percentage points) and now has the lowest percentage of schools judged as good or outstanding of all the regions (72%). The West Midlands showed the highest increase (11%) alongside the North East.
A third (7,179) of all open schools have been inspected under section 5 of the Education Act 2005 and their reports published since the introduction of the revised school inspection framework at the beginning of the academic year (September 2012).
In total, 7,226 section 5 inspections were conducted in the 2012/13 academic year to June 2013 and published by August 2013. Of these, 39% improved (2,789) since their last inspection, 41% remained the same (2,945) and 18% declined (1,314). In the 2011/12 academic year 32% of schools inspected improved.
During the latest quarter, the overall number of schools in a category of concern has decreased by 60.
The number of monitoring inspections (927) has increased by 16% compared to the previous quarter (798). This is largely due to an increase in the number of requires improvement monitoring inspections."

Absolutely not hijacking your thread though Gillybob. This doesn't make what is happening to your grandchildren right. It is just intended to give a bit of perspective.

annodomini Fri 18-Oct-13 09:21:16

That's a very informative post. Mamie. As a governor, I saw the stress that staff underwent in the run-up to an Ofsted inspection; I also saw the relief when a favourable report was received. Teachers very rarely felt aggrieved at their judgements and constructive advice was generally acted upon successfully - I am thinking of a maths department that was 'letting the side down' and which, within a few years, was one of the most outstanding in the school. However, the matter of pre-inspection stress is hard to overlook.

deserving Fri 18-Oct-13 09:34:31

Wonderful l, I didn't realise how well we were doing,I was blinded by the complaints from people that are not aware of the statistics, and confused by the stories of children leaving school unable to read.
Forget the cant, what's wrong with rote? As has been said, stream by ability,(and that includes the teachers) not by age. Something I heard, a child was having slight problems and was "awarded" a helper in class. All very well father said but why is the , supposedly trained qualified teacher, teaching the more able, getting them farther ahead, when an untrained person was teaching his child.

Mamie Fri 18-Oct-13 10:01:43

Yes, pre-inspection stress is and always has been a problem. I remember one teacher who said that when Ofsted arrived they had been expecting monsters and had been amazed by the informed, courteous people who came in, knew what they were doing and told it how it was. I have had teachers who have told me that nobody had ever told them how well they were doing until Ofsted came. You don't tend to read those stories. Equally, some people have had a very bruising experience and that is hard. I think an aura has built up around Ofsted which has partly come from schools, governors, the government of the day, the press and some of the inspectors, especially the pronouncements of certain chief inspectors.
It is interesting to view the Ofsted bulletin above in the light of the "everything is getting worse and Ofsted is getting harder" stories.
In my experience good schools manage the experience well and minimise the stress, but it is still a difficult and exhausting experience for everybody. Nobody likes criticism.
Deserving, it is a little hard to unpick what you mean, but if you are talking about a child with special needs getting one to one support from a teaching assistant, then I think most parents would think that is a good thing.

gillybob Fri 18-Oct-13 11:14:30

Thanks again everyone, your support and advice is (as usual) priceless.

Mishap Full time home schooling not appropriate. Both my son and DIL work full time (my DIL does shiftwork too). Likewise grandparents on both sides. Even if things were different I am not sure whether this would be appropriate for them as I think it is important for children to be taught alongside other children as it helps them to become more social.

Mamie After a poor Ofsted report the school was appointed with a small team who worked alongside the existing head. The report was as follows;

Acheivement of Pupils- 3 - Requires improvement
Quality of Teaching - 3 - Requires improvement
Leadership and Management - 3 - Requires improvement
Behaviour and Safety of pupils - 2 - Good

The school is a larger than average sized primary school.
The proportion of pupils known to be eligible for the pupil premium is well above average.
The proportion of pupils with special needs is above average.
The inspectors note that staff changes and absences are well above average.

I am told that the "team" have now left.

As I mentioned in an earlier post several of their most long standing teachers left during the 6 weeks holiday meaning that half the staff are now supply teachers. My 5 year old grandaughter has had 2 since September. I don't mean to sound awful but just talking to her current teacher makes me wonder if they are now trawling the bottom of the barrel. By the way still no reading book vampirequeen despite me asking for one on Tuesday and my grandaughters little note.

Lastly (for now) because of the lack of teachers and high proportion of children in given age groups. There are many children in split classes. I wonder how a good teacher could teach 24 year 2's and 7 year 1's as in my grandaughters class (she is year 1 in a year 2 class) never mind one who isn't so good.