Advice on how to tackle teacher (without making it seem like tackling)

(9 Posts)
Devora Sat 08-Mar-14 20:36:59

dd is in Y3 and has always been very happy at school. She is doing well, behaviour excellent, loved all her teachers. The only complaint I have ever got is that she is very shy and quiet (which school seem to expect me to be able to do something about grin)

Anyway, this year they get streamed for certain subjects including maths. dd has always been good at maths, was originally thought to be going into top set, but her teacher told me she lacked confidence and might do better in a set down. Which made sense to me.

It hasn't worked, though: the little confidence she had has been completely eroded by her relationship with the teacher. I'm not in the class and I don't see both sides, and dd is reluctant to tell me much, but I hear from other parents that lots of kids have problems with this teacher. dd has been increasingly distressed, crying before school several days a week, saying the only way to escape the situation is to fail at maths and go down a set. Her performance - and confidence - is spiralling.

I have raised this with her form teacher 3 times, but to no effect. The form teacher basically says, well if you could get your dd to be more confident at maths...

Then, this week, dd actually walked out of school and walked home, without a word to anyone, because she was so distressed at the prospect of a double lesson with this teacher.

I've really had enough of this, and need to hear from the teacher what is going on and how we can help dd to keep engaged with maths. Of course, I'm absolutely furious but I'm working hard at staying calm and constructive. I've arranged a meeting with her now, but I don't want to just hear "I'll talk to dd". Basically I want her to just back off a bit. Failing that, I want them to put dd into another group - I don't care which set, just so long as she can get her confidence back (I'm sure they won't agree to this, though).

Any advice on how to keep this meeting constructive but, most of all, effective?

ArtisanScotchEgg Sat 08-Mar-14 20:42:49

What happened when they realised she'd walked out of school? Surely that's a safeguarding issue?

shazbean Sat 08-Mar-14 20:44:36

How old is she? 8?
Id be furious she got out of school and walked herself home, how did that escape notice?!

meerschweinchen Sat 08-Mar-14 20:50:42

Maybe you need to talk to the head? If there are issues with this teacher, then your dd's form teacher will probably be aware, but unable to do anything about them. If it's really that bad, then the majority of the class would want to move! If your dd is particularly sensitive, and able to complete the work in the top set it sounds like that would be the best option. I would imagine this is more likely to help her confidence too. The fact she left school on her own is really worrying, so on those grounds alone, I'd say you were justified in asking to speak to the head. No need to go in all guns blazing ( not that you sound like you would!) but just explain the same as you've written here.

Devora Sat 08-Mar-14 20:58:48

To be fair to them, they're not to blame for her walking out. I saw her into the building, she sat in the cloakroom awhile, then walked out before they closed the schoolgates. It's a really big school and very busy at drop-off, so she could easily walk out unnoticed. Her teacher rang just after she reached home.

So you don't think I'd be seen as nightmare parent if I bypassed talking to the teacher face to face and went straight to the HT? (I have an absolute horror of being seen as too pushy - our school has a LOT of them.)

shazbean Sat 08-Mar-14 21:07:52

Well theres pushy because you think your little angel should be top in everything and theres this.
Bypass the teacher..youve tried already and got nowhere. write down what you want to happen so that you can stay calm during the meeting if you think it will help.
And they are to blame for her leaving, even if the school has 1000 children they need to be accounted for. dont let them get away with that on top of everything else.
Apologies for the rubbish gramner etc on phone.

meerschweinchen Sat 08-Mar-14 21:17:00

Personally, in this situation I don't think you'd be pushy, no. I generally always side with the school, but in this case I think you need to sort it before your dd becomes miserable at school and no longer wants to go, or else is put off Maths for life. If you were pushy, you'd be insisting she's moved to the top set! You actually say that you don't mind which set she's moved into, just as long as she gets her confidence back. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

I think it might well be easier to tackle this with the HT rather than the Maths teacher and the firm teacher has little leverage and no use so far. If there is a problem with this teacher, the HT may well need to hear from you They can't fix a problem without knowing about it or may need extra evidence.

If your DD does end up moving down a set, would you consider getting her some external tuition to allow her to move up to the top set, bypassing the difficult teacher. It isn't a perfect solution, but one-to-one tuition can really help confidence too.

Devora Sat 08-Mar-14 21:47:14

Thank you all for this great advice. You've helped me decide I definitely will talk to the HT. The form teacher is very nice but clearly not going to do anything, and the subject teacher has a reputation for petty meanness and humiliating her non-favourites, so is unlikely to take a good hard look at herself and change just because I bring it up. (I will very much only go in to talk about my dd, though, just in case that sounded as though I am trying to start a witchhunt.)

meerschweinchen (love the name!) yes, I would be very happy for her to be moved down - I think it would do her the world of good to be in a set where they take things very slowly and are used to helping children who lack confidence. Sadly, I don't think this would happen as they would have to swap her with someone moving up and as her test results are still apparently nearer the top set than the lower set (though progressively getting worse).

breatheslowly, tutoring is an interesting idea. There is a parent who I think used to be a maths teacher, who volunteers in the school and used to take my daughter for an advanced maths group (those were the days!). She is lovely and I wonder if she might be able to help - with the brief that I need my dd to see maths as fun again, not to push up her results (hoping, of course, that the former will in time deliver the latter).

Thank you all again for your very helpful advice.

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