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to encourage independence and a sense of responsibility?

(19 Posts)
thatbags Wed 28-Oct-15 11:18:47

Feeling a bit down today. The weather is dreich and I've been in a lot of pain for the past week or so which doesn't help, but the main thing is feeling weary because of silly school stuff. I hope you don't mind if I have a bit of a rant. Writing it down may clarify some things and, with any luck, reduce their significance.

Minibags's (M's) school provides the kids with what are called Personal Planners. The idea is to write down homework assignments and deadlines and to help them get organised. All that is fine. I had a homework jotter at school too. Fliss's school has a policy where the pupil is supposed to ask a parent to sign their PP every week. This, I believe, is regarded as getting parents involved in their child's education. I have been dutifully signing M's PP for three+ years, often signing several weeks in advance at her request. Saves time and askings! Nobody at school has batted an eyelid about this; so long as they get the parental signature they're happy apparently, even when it's meaningless... well, when it means no more than "I have signed this blank piece of paper". Quite often the pages I've signed have been blank! When there has been something written on them I haven't usually read it. I did once write a note in her PP asking why they wanted blank pages signed and got a long lecture from one of the Management Team which went in one ear and out the other. What amused me at the time was this: if they can bore the pants off people like me who are fully engaged with their offsprings' education (including schooling), how the hell do they suppose they are going to get through to the parents who are not engaged already and who don't particularly want to be, which I would have thought was the whole point of the exercise?

Anyway, moving on. M is now quite clearly taking her schoolwork more seriously than she has in the past (as I did at the same stage of my school career, the start of 'O' level courses; one kind of wakes up when national exams loom), bought herself her own choice of PP at the beginning of the year and is using it well, with all the kinds of entries the school Management Team like to see. She asked me to write a note in it at the beginning explaining that I knew about it, had signed it the once, agreed with and fully approved her plan to take more responsibility herself, and was not going to sign it any more.

Cue another lecture by phone (by two phones, house phone and mobile! Thank god I was in the shower and couldn't answer didn't hear either phone ring) from Mr ManagementTeam about school rules, procedure, blah, blah, blah and me respecting all that. Not a word of reciprocal respect for my right as a parent to make decisions about what I think is the best way to support my teenage child's development into an independent adult, I who know her several hundred per cent better than any teacher or Management Team bod at school! I've pondered ringing Mr ManagementTeam back to say all this (calmly of course hmm) but given what he's like, I think it would be a waste of time. I don't get the impression he's capable of thinking outside his little box of rules and procedures.

Rant over. If you've got this far, thank you for listening!

Luckygirl Wed 28-Oct-15 11:51:09

Parents count for very little in the scheme of government edicts and box-ticking. Clearly what you are doing is right for your child and if it were me I would just bash on with it.

Having said that it is more than possible that the school is used to many disengaged parents and it is good that they are making some attempt (however flawed) to get them involved.

hildajenniJ Wed 28-Oct-15 11:57:51

Wonderful rant bags. My DD is having moderate to severe problems with the school my DGC attend. It is a primary school as her eldest is 8. DGS 2, who started school in August has (we are almost sure) high functioning autism. He has speech problems and has been seeing a speech therapist since he was 3. My DD found out from the ST that the school do not think he is practicing his words at home. He does them every night, but DD doesn't think he retains them. As she had not written anything about his speech in his diary. She has started to out notes in his homework diary every day now. If school were unhappy about his lack of progress, why didn't they speak to my DD about it, instead of complaining to the speech therapist? She is now talking about moving back to England! She is worried about all the cuts the Argyll council are proposing, (but that's another story).

rosesarered Wed 28-Oct-15 12:00:01

This is all new to me, is this for Scotland only?Of course, ages since mine were teenagers so I'm out of touch with school procedures.There does seem to be a big element of box ticking going on.Surely as an engaged parent you can choose to over-ride any rules?

hildajenniJ Wed 28-Oct-15 12:01:34

Sorry, I haven't answered you, but have gone off and had a rant of my own.
A child of your DD's age should be more responsible for her own homework etc., it is a way of preparing her for further education, college or university where she will have full responsibility herself!

thatbags Wed 28-Oct-15 12:12:41

Thanks, hildajj. That's how I feel. I have two well-educated adult daughters (both in their thirties) already. I do know what I'm doing. I've had "discussions" with Mr ManagementTeam before. I think he has tunnel-think.

Sorry to hear your DD is having to deal with annoying stuff too, hilda.

Yes, roses, exactly my feeling: I do not have to follow the details of school rules and procedures. The school has no jurisdiction over me or what happens at my house. I thought I was showing my 'engagement' with school aims by writing the note in the PP. It is my right to over-ride things where I feel I have a better approach for the child in question. At least I let them know! I think what narks me most about Mr ManagementTeam's bossiness is the feeling that he doesn't give parents, even fully engaged ones, any credit for having any sense about what will work best with their child.

whenim64 Wed 28-Oct-15 13:01:43

I wholeheartedly agree with every word you've written here, bags. These inflexible rules are being imposed on parents (and grandparents who get involved with homework) without taking account of what motivates the individual child or their progress in planning their own school work. School is only part of education and many children are self-starters, have parents keeping a watchful eye on them keeping up and don't need these additional routines. Other children would benefit from the management teams diverting resources to bringing them along instead of harassing families who don't need such intervention. Just needs a bit of common sense!

ninathenana Wed 28-Oct-15 16:24:33

roses no not just Scotland . My DC are in their 20's and had what their school called Contract Books. (same principle) Form teacher would write in large red letters if it wasn't signed by an adult at home.
DGS primary school also have them, mostly for reading records. It is signed at school by either the teacher or assistant/volunteer to say they have been heard that day and by who ever listens to them at home. There is a section for comments.

rosesarered Wed 28-Oct-15 16:28:43

Oh, right, what a performance all round!

Iam64 Wed 28-Oct-15 20:11:18

I'm joining the chorus of support bags and can I say, I did quite enjoy your rant, especially the way you named Mr Management Team. You describe the kind of nonsense that will change absolutely nothing for the better. The young people getting the kind of support mini bags receives will continue to mature and increasingly take responsibility for themselves. The children who sadly get little or no support from home will continue in the same way.

lt's interesting that young people who go to state rather than private schools and are therefore expected to take responsibility for planning/homework etc do better if they go on to university than their privately educated peers.

Grandma2213 Thu 29-Oct-15 03:00:20

I am a firm believer in signing, ticking or doing whatever is requested and then doing our own thing! I remember DS3 having to plough through his reading scheme (Now politically incorrect Gay Ways Scheme). We used to read it from back to front (still made as much sense)! Then we read books of his own choice. His favourite was the Readers' Digest Medical Dictionary as he was fascinated by the structure of the human body.

DS1 used to sign my name in his Planner himself and a very good copy it was too!

thatbags I think we all know what will work best with our child or DGC. Just let the school think we are doing it their way. Mr Management Team has to tick boxes too for Mr/Mrs/Ms Higher Management.

roses yes that's exactly what it is - a performance. As a retired teacher I am very well aware of that! Children will eventually realise that too as they mature and become more independent, with our support.

thatbags Thu 29-Oct-15 06:49:56

Doing what is requested and then my own thing is essentially what I've been doing for the last three+ years. The change has been initiated by Minibags, not by me. By supporting this change I am supporting her, which is my primary duty and also what I choose/want to do in this instance because I'm glad to see her taking on responsibility for her work. Mr ManagementTeam seems to think my primary duty is to support the school's inflexible rules and procedures. Nah. Rules and procedures need to be adaptable as kids grow up.

thatbags Thu 29-Oct-15 07:00:14

My PGCE dissertation was about parental involvement in schooling. I have thunk about the subject long and hard. I don't think box-ticking and such-like bureaucracy is the way to go.

I do see that Mr MT has to tick boxes for his "Line Manager" (his phrase), but change from the bottom up is often a good thing in my view.

Besides which, what Minibags wants to do will harm no-one and nothing but it will help her in her view and mine. MT and line managers can surely gloss over trivial lapses in box-ticking and concentrate on what really matters: encouraging kids to develop their own coping-with-the-world mechanisms. In short, to educate them in useful ways.

thatbags Thu 29-Oct-15 07:01:14

That is, after all, what we taxpayers pay them to do, isn't it?

Notso Thu 29-Oct-15 07:02:17

I'd be tempted to give DD a couple of dozen signed blank pages for her to staple into her Planner as and when. Then to contact Mr M T to say you totally disagree with his demands and his reasonings, but that if his desire to tick the right boxes supercedes his belief in a pupil's right to self-determination and developing responsibility, then you have equipped your daughter with the means to help him achieve this.

Anya Thu 29-Oct-15 07:59:31

If I felt as strongly about this as you do bags I'd ask for a meeting with Mr MT and A.N. Other (possibly his line manager). At that meeting I'd explain your and M's position.

I know you feel they are trying to fit everyone into little boxes and that one size doesn't fit all. It's very hard for secondary schools to comply with government interference directives, which change from year to year.

Meet up, put your case and I hope you are feeling better in every way soon.

thatbags Thu 29-Oct-15 08:10:19

Like it, notso! grin Lateral thinking.

I have put my case already, anya, and MT has put his. I understand his case and he understands mine. I'm letting it lie (sounding off on here has been useful, as I has hoped smile) for the time being in the hope that we can agree to differ and that the school can recognise an engaged parent when they encounter one (various school gods and demi-gods and semi-demi-gods have encountered me before on various issues affecting my daughter) and concentrate on more important things. Believe me, the school has some much more important things pressing on its time right now, which I'm not going to talk about on GN until they are resolved, and possibly not even then.

mcem Thu 29-Oct-15 08:39:48

Perhaps he has now ticked the box which indicates that he has ' contacted parent to explain school policies on pp's' and can relax. Job done!

soontobe Thu 29-Oct-15 09:23:06

I would speak to the Parent Governor. That is what their job role is. To convey parents concerns. I would highly doubt you are the only parent with the same ideas.