Is this in the interests of children with un-involved parents?

(69 Posts)
Pyrrah Sun 09-Dec-12 00:47:57

DD is in the nursery of a primary school in a very deprived area of London. School is Satisfactory on Ofsted, around 45% FSM and around 60% EAL.

She gets two books a week which have to be read at home, and I have to make comments in her 'Reading Book', parents are asked to come into class on the book switch days and help chose a book.

Once a week they have 'Show and Tell'.

As of next term, they start maths and will have maths homework in their 'Maths Book' once a week and writing homework once a week.

There will also be a holiday project at Xmas and at Easter to be completed for the beginning of term.

There are also numerous sessions during the week that parents can attend plus class assemblies, plays etc

All this is great for MY DD, who is bright and positively thrives on being pushed. I have the time and interest to make sure that the books are read on top of the normal bedtime stories, that she has something fun to take for show and tell and that she will have the maths, writing and holiday projects done properly along with all the museums, art galleries and general MC aspirational trimmings.

However, when I went to her parent's evening a couple of weeks ago, I ended up getting over half an hour instead of 10 minutes (much spent talking about things other than DD or school - am not quite that PFB) as the parent scheduled before me hadn't turned up and the 4 scheduled after me hadn't bothered either (we had 3 weeks notice and the option to change times to one of several different days).

I can't help thinking that this level of parental commitment is fine in the private sector or in ultra-leafy areas, but must be detrimental in an area like this where children will quickly divide into those whose parents do and those whose parents don't. Also a lot of pressure for parents who may not have had much schooling themselves, or who may not speak English, single parents who lack time etc

Surely it is better for all 'education' to be classroom based with this type of cohort? Or is this a way for a school to quickly detect which students have uninterested home lives and offer extra-support within the classroom?

IndigoBelle Sun 09-Dec-12 02:38:38

Yes, if reading and maths records aren't signed school then assume parents aren't helping kids and give them extra support at school.

With 45% FSM they'll get a fair amount of pupil premium, some of which they'll probably spend on an extra TA to read etc with these kids.

rhondajean Sun 09-Dec-12 02:45:47

I'm miles out of London but this is average for homework tbh.

Pyrrah Sun 09-Dec-12 03:10:34

I was quite suprised there was homework at all in a Nursery class! Is it really that common?

We3bunniesOfOrientAre Sun 09-Dec-12 07:21:23

No homework in our state primary nursery, reading books start in reception and maths etc in yr1. Sounds a bit excessive, great for your dd who sounds ready to learn, but not so good if a child, regardless of background is less ready. Parents evenings, shows etc are par for the course though.

SleighbellsRingInYourLife Sun 09-Dec-12 07:24:29

It sounds like the homework is for you, not your child at all.

dishwashervodkaanddietirnbru Sun 09-Dec-12 07:31:28

mine never got homework at nursery (no reading books home and no projects) - bit OTT really. We did have a parents night.

BeehavingBaby Sun 09-Dec-12 07:33:10

That is the level of homework in yr1/2 for dds and I had had the same concerns. Seems like a test of my organisation skills more than anything. For nursery it sounds bonkers.

lunar1 Sun 09-Dec-12 07:46:33

Not too keen on the project work as let's face it even if the child
Does
Most of the project, all of the organising will be done by parents.

The rest is fine though. It is sad that so many children have disinterested parents but the answer to solving that does not lay in holding others back.

I think we have real issues in this country with striving to be the best you can be. We seem to prefer to bring everyone down to the lowest level rather than trying to improve things for those who need extra support.

PeppermintCreams Sun 09-Dec-12 08:04:29

My son is in a fairly similar school. It's a very large outstanding infants with a wide catchment and lots of different socio economic groups. And it's not always the parents that you might expect that can't be bothered. I've overheard Mrs 4x4 saying she can't be bothered to help son with homework, Mrs NHS worker saying she doesn't think 4 year olds should be reading, while I've had single mum from council estate chatting to me worried about her daughters reading level - yes I am stereotyping but you get the picture. The EAL families are the ones I see at story time at the library, and the families send them to childminders to help with English.

In nursery homework was 10 mins on homework website a week, and colouring a letter of the week worksheet. Plus a reading book if they had started.

In reception it's about 15 mins on the homework website plus reading every day, plus optional show and tell on a Monday and optional holiday projects. Which I don't think it a lot. The homework on the computer is recapping what they are learning at school that week, and I think it's more to show the parent what they are doing so they can do things at home with them. They are expected to read every night. A book a night at the very early levels.

The school does get a lot of funding and has floating TA's that work with children in smaller groups out of the classroom.

chibi Sun 09-Dec-12 08:06:52

has it occurred to you that many of these 'disinterested' parents may be working, and unable to pop in constantly?

you have no idea what is going on in people's lives.
Ld
as a teacher, i plan lessons and activities for the children i teach, not their parents - someone should not be prevented from learning or being successful because they don't have a parent dossing around just waiting to do the work for them

i wouldn't say that is was bringing everything to the lowest level hmm rather ensuring that people's ability rather than their privilege is the source of their success.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 09-Dec-12 08:12:54

This sounds more like DS's Yr 1/2 homework, not nursery. But agree that it's not always the parents you expect who don't support their children's homework, for whatever reason.

lunar1 Sun 09-Dec-12 09:26:08

Ooh chibi that is not how I meant my post. I was trying to say that I think stopping homework just because not everyone will get help was a bad idea.

My only frame of reference for homework is for ds who is 4. He is asked to do 5-10 mins reading/blends per day. There is no way he could do this independently, he's 4!

Ds is in the kg of an independent school. Many of the parents chose not to do the reading as that is what they pay for! But I guess that's a whole other story.

Bonsoir Sun 09-Dec-12 09:29:21

Gosh, I greatly disagree with project work in the early years of primary anyway. If children cannot read or write they cannot realistically do any sort of meaningful project.

chicaguapa Sun 09-Dec-12 09:40:15

I agree with OP that school education should be classroom-based. But it works both ways as I live in a middle class area and my experience of DC's school is that they rely on the parents to be actively involved in bringing on the DC and those whose parents aren't make significantly less progress.

I speak from experience as a FT working mum who stupidly thought her DC were being taught at school and that homework was to consolidate what they were learning at school, not to actually teach it!

simpson Sun 09-Dec-12 09:47:17

I would hate to do project work (as its usually the adult that ends up doing it).

DD (now reception) got sound books (jolly phonics), a sheet with a letter on to colour in and maybe some tricky words to read when she was in nursery...

I go in and read with KS1 kids and it does make me sad how many of them seem to get zero support at home and are struggling....

PartridgeInARustyBearTree Sun 09-Dec-12 09:48:39

One of the judgements on school management is how well the school "engage parents in supporting pupils’ achievement, behaviour and safety and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development"

If OFSTED had concerns about the level of parental involvement at their last inspection, they may have made it a target to improve it.

Pyrrah Sun 09-Dec-12 10:09:12

Chibi - I offered a few ideas as to why the parents may not be able to put in the time that were not just a lack of interest. However, there are big issues in the local area with children who have parents who really don't care, so I imagine there are a fair number in the class who fall into that category.

Lunar1 - I totally agree with you, dumbing down to the lowest common denominator isn't good for anyone and certainly not good for the country. From what the staff have told me, there are a couple of kids like my daughter who can write their names, count objects, read a few words etc but the majority can't yet recognise their names. I am very happy indeed that they have plans to push her ahead on everything (especially as they have been hauled over the coals by Ofsted a couple of times for not challenging able pupils)

I was just a little suprised that there was so much call for parental involvement at this stage in a school that is receiving a significant amount of pupil premium and considering that there seems to be a political move towards being the most disadvantaged into school as early as possible in order to 'narrow the gap'. As far as I can see it widens the gap - and is also sad for the children whose parents can't attend things. DD has already been upset because I can't go for the 2 mornings a week when parents can come and join in - and neither can any other working parent.

My post stemmed more from a discussion with DH who thought it would be a way of picking up on those children who needed more support - I wasn't so sure.

Interesting to read everyone's views.

Bonsoir Sun 09-Dec-12 10:12:39

"But it works both ways as I live in a middle class area and my experience of DC's school is that they rely on the parents to be actively involved in bringing on the DC and those whose parents aren't make significantly less progress."

I do think that some schools (and I include my DD's school in this) have such involved parents that they become a bit complacent about ensuring they are covering all the ground necessary for DC to make progress. Hence DCs whose parents - for whatever reason - are not heavily involved getting a rather bitty educational experience.

chibi Sun 09-Dec-12 11:11:23

children who have parents who are interested, and able to devote their time to moving their learning forward will always have an inbuilt advantage over those who don't, and there is nothing to be done about that i guess

however, to design a school system with activities that compound that advantage seems really unfair

difficultpickle Sun 09-Dec-12 11:13:17

Ds is in year 4 at prep and had his first ever project to do this part of term. If he had been given a project in nursery I would have told nursery what to do with it. How on earth is a 3 or 4 year old supposed to do a project by themselves? confused

mrz Sun 09-Dec-12 11:23:42

It all seems very OTT to be honest

learnandsay Sun 09-Dec-12 11:43:08

Isn't there a difference between compulsory and not? I'd imagine that the parental comments in the reading/maths diaries and probably some sort of support with the handwriting are compulsory. The choosing of reading books, plays, songs and whatever else don't look compulsory to me. There is also a difference between a child-done project and an adult driven one which the child has occasionally been allowed to contribute to, (perhaps signing their name to it after the parent has had it professionally laminated.) So, I'm not sure that I'm seeing a school system designed to compound inequality, any more than all school systems do. (Western education does by its nature. It's inspired by the Ancient Greeks where only the sons of the wealthy had time to sit around discussing nothing much in particular.)

chibi Sun 09-Dec-12 11:49:41

what is your parents are illiterate and can't sign or write comments? What if they live chaotic lives? Tough luck kid, maybe next life you'll have the good sense to be born to parents who can make sure you are educated?

it is not acceptable for a child's progress and experience of education to hinge on who their parents are, and i don't give a shiny shite how many educational systems are run this way, it still blows.

If, as a teacher, whatever i am trying to teach them is only effective if their parents are doing a lot of the teaching and reinforcing at home, i am doing it wrong. I say this as an actual teacher fwiw

difficultpickle Sun 09-Dec-12 11:59:24

I'm always getting into trouble for not signing ds's homework book and I am educated and can write. However I sometimes struggle to understand what homework ds has and what bit of the random jottings in his homework diary I am supposed to sign. At least at aged 8 he can communicate to me exactly what he is supposed to be doing. He definitely couldn't do that in any detail at the age of 3 or 4.

Other than reading I am firmly of the belief that homework set in primary school is purely for the benefit of parents so they can see what their dcs are doing at school.

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