Do I have a legal right to see teachers at parents' evening?

(80 Posts)
spababe Tue 20-Nov-12 14:21:03

The school has a computerised booking system and DS handed me a letter late and all the slots for some teachers had gone I emailed the school but they have just said the teachers I can't get slots with will email me. I think if there are more parents requesting slots than there are slots they should stay later or put on a second evening to create more slots. I have tried phoning the head of year (twice) and she never returns my calls.

abbierhodes Tue 20-Nov-12 18:08:04

The 'it's only once a year' comment makes me cross. Are people really so arrogant and self absorbed that they forget there are other year groups?

If you count all 5 year groups, plus 6th form, plus year 7 'settling in' consultations, year 6 transition evening, 3 commendation evenings, open evening, careers evening and a 6th form presentation evening, that's 14 evenings in a year that an average teacher won't finish work before 8.30ish. This does not take into account those teachers who are involved in sports, music concerts, drama productions etc. It doesn't count revision classes(often in the holidays) or after school clubs. Trips to the theatre, university trips, charity events.

OP, I'm sure any teacher would be happy to speak to you on the phone or meet you on another day if you feel the need. But expecting them to put on a whole other evening just for you is ludicrous!

BackforGood Tue 20-Nov-12 18:12:34

Excellent post by twoterrors.
It is a bit frustrating when you first get to secondary, and your child has moved from an environment when you see the class teacher and everyone is known to you to a big new place where you don't know any of the teachers' faces, and you feel a bit 'lost' in terms of knowing what's going on - I remember it well. However as others have pointed out, it's a logistical nightmare. There are only so many hours in the day. I know when dd started and the English teacher taught more Yr7s than there were slots, she made it clear to all the girls that she would prioritise who she saw, and if you weren't prioritised, then you were doing very well and she wasn't at all concerned about your attainment, effort, behaviour or anything. I thought - fair enough! - although would like to have been able to put a face to her name, I thought that was a sensible way of dealing with th problem.
I also put it to the school, that maybe it could be something taken into account when allocating classes on the timetable, that almost all parents of Yr7s are likely to want to see at least the teachers of the core subjects, so, where possible (and I know there might be reasons when it's not) the school should look at not giving one teacher more than 2 sets in any one year group - particularly Yr7.
The whole "legal right" and "Phone the HT" stuff is just going to alienate the school, when you would do your dc a lot more good, by working with them.
If you have any concerns then phone or e-mail that subject teacher, don't wait until parents evening, and, if they have concerns, then I'm sure they will contact you too.

HellothisisJoanie Tue 20-Nov-12 18:14:30

try going in another day - youd get better service anyway tbh

HellothisisJoanie Tue 20-Nov-12 18:15:20

parents evening IMO are hte biggest waste of a teachers time.

so inefficient - pointless - what has EVER changed long term from a parent's evening?

AViewfromtheFridge Tue 20-Nov-12 18:17:37

I know this isn't AIBU, but clearly you have decided the school are in the wrong and you are in the right, as you are not listening to or taking on perfectly valid points made by others.

Twoterrors, your second paragraph is absolutely bob on, really made me laugh. I always feel so sorry for whoever has the misfortune to see me last - the conversation goes something like this:

Me: So. I'm pleased with the progress she's making, although attendance continues to be a concern.
Parent: But she's only had one day off! That was last year!
Me: Ah. Yes. Sorry about that! So... I'm pleased with the progress she's making! Keep it up! Bye!
<Slinks off chair onto floor and lies in a heap, gently trembling>

HellothisisJoanie Tue 20-Nov-12 18:18:44

If i had an issue I would ring school and ask to speak to xyz

also why wont a phone call suffice?

stargirl1701 Tue 20-Nov-12 18:19:44

It's def not once a year for secondary teachers. They have 6 year groups (in Scotland) so that is at least 12 parent contact evenings if they see each year group once.

In this regard, it is def easier to be a primary teacher.

It seems your dc is to blame here. He failed to inform you in a timely fashion. I would address that first then use the email contact you have been offered. Next year make sure your dc understands the importance you place on face-to-face contact.

noblegiraffe Tue 20-Nov-12 18:23:39

I wonder if OP's DS is in Y7. Y7 parents evening is always full of parents who sit down like they're ready for a nice long cosy chat and are then rather bewildered when they have information rapidly barked at them, a brief 'any questions?' and they're stood up and being moved on quite before they quite know what has happened.

radicalsubstitution Tue 20-Nov-12 18:28:58

I actually quite like parents' evenings.

About 1 in 5 parents actually takes the time to say 'thank you for all your work with X - they like your subject'.

Most parental contact in secondary is about what we haven't done, so the odd nice word makes it all seem worthwhile.

Saying that, they do just about kill me. As does sitting at the bus stop at 9:45 on a cold February evening waiting for the bus home and knowing I've got a full teaching load the next day...

ravenAK Tue 20-Nov-12 18:30:23

I find the hardest thing is getting up the next day after I've treated my post Parents' Evening dehydration with a bottle of wine.

redandwhitesprinkles Tue 20-Nov-12 18:34:19

I teach 5 classes in one year group- 150 kids. Ten minutes each means 25 hours (except they never run to time). We start at 4.30, if you got your way I would be there until 5.30 the following day. Please be realistic. Email is a two way conversation if you respond to what the teacher sends you. Or if you have an issue then contact that teacher. You will get a much better response than during a 10 min rush job after I have taught a full day anyway!

AViewfromtheFridge Tue 20-Nov-12 19:54:01

You asked about having a "legal right" to an appointment - as far as I understand it, schools have to provide a written report once a year, and an opportunity for parents to discuss it. That's it.

Link here

ravenAK Tue 20-Nov-12 20:13:20

With 'a' teacher, I believe - so not even the subject teacher - could in theory just be a general conversation with the form tutor.

I don't know of any school that doesn't provide subject appointments, though.

I'm quite often fully booked (English) & as BackforGood said upthread, if I have more than one teaching group in that year I'll tell the kids to tell parents: book to see me if you need a quick overview/update.

If dc is on target, good effort grades & happy with my teaching, don't feel you have to book at all. If you want a proper, in depth discussion - email me & we'll arrange a separate meeting when I will have a sensible amount of time to talk!

spababe Tue 20-Nov-12 20:53:07

* if you haven't been able to see the teachers you wish to see, surely a polite letter asking for an alternative time for that teacher would be the way to go *

If it was just one teacher appointment I was missing then that might be the route to go but out of 10 teachers I want to see, I only have appointments for 4. Added to which the school is a 20 min drive away so potentially 6 round trips of an hour each time which I don't think is reasonable when I could do it all in one evening.

One of the advantages of a face to face meeting is that DH, DS and I can all see the teacher at the same time as a 4 way meeting. Much harder to do that on the phone.

noblegiraffe Tue 20-Nov-12 20:57:25

Why are you that desperate to see ten teachers? Have you got major concerns across the board or think that they're going to tell you something vitally important or that you don't already know?

cricketballs Tue 20-Nov-12 21:12:36

as others have said, in particular redandwhitesprinkles it can be physically impossible for a teacher to see every parent of every student they teach in a particular year group. For example, I only teach one year 7 group, so their parents evening is gong to be fine, but I teach 6 year 11 groups and therefore impossible for me to see every parent during parents evening. If there is an issue, then I contact the parents myself without waiting for parents evening and hold meetings in my own time to discuss issues, but to demand a meeting at parents evening is just not possible at secondary due to the amount of students we teach

MsElleTow Tue 20-Nov-12 21:24:24

It's DS1's (yr13) parents' evening tomorrow night. I'm not going, I'm having emails sent, I don't know why I never thought of doing that before. I know he is on track because he tells me the marks he gets in his essays etc, and we talk about what he has done in school that day.

In all the time my DC have been in secondary school (DS2 is in Yr11) I have never seen all their teachers. Quite often the teacher would say they didn't need to see me( Not now so much as DS2 is in his GCSE year) and I was always relieved TBH that my DC didn't have any problems and left the appointments free for those parents whose DC needed them.

You honestly can not expect to see all of the teachers every parents evening!

ravenAK Tue 20-Nov-12 21:27:24

Tbh, parents' evening is probably the least valuable communication I have with parents (as a teacher) or school (as a parent).

I find it much more effective to discuss issues by email & arrange proper meetings where it's needed.

Hulababy Tue 20-Nov-12 21:30:46

No it isn't a legal right to see every teacher your child has.
It is a legal requirement too have communication between school and home I believe. This is very different.

Do you really need to see every teacher?

When I was teaching one of my subjects was ICT. I taught over 300 children each week. How would I possibly manage to see every single one of those parents?

BTW it isn't once a year generally. When I was teaching I used to have between 8-10 parents evenings a year.

Hulababy Tue 20-Nov-12 21:33:27

It has to be two way spababe. It isn't possible for every teacher to see every parent - logistically it cant happen.

If you really want to see all these teachers then you need to arrange additional appointments individually with each teacher at a mutually convenient time. If that means that for an additional 3 or 4 evenings a year you need to go to school for a meeting then so be it. It depends if it is really that important to you I guess.

You have to remember that some teachers are teaching an awful lot of children - not just your own.

spababe Tue 20-Nov-12 21:36:54

so the teachers here are saying they are only interested in seeing parents where the children are struggling?
Why not explain how you are stretching the bright kids - every child matters remember!
'Once a year' of course not for the teachers but think of it from the parents point of view.
Of course I don't want teachers there until 10pm and then teaching the next day but believe me, the school has organised things so that it all finishes in what would be considered normal office hours.

Bosgrove Tue 20-Nov-12 21:37:15

I wish it was only one evening a year.

I am married to a secondary school teacher, he has parents evenings for each year group on separate days at least twice a year. Senior staff meetings every Tuesday when he doesn't get home until at least 7pm normally later, open evenings for the new intake for year 7 and year 12. Teaching Saturday mornings for the gifted and talented programme, school trips during the school holidays, presentation evenings for GCSE certificates and a separate one for A level certificates, chaperoning the proms and being in school to give out the exam results so the pupils can pick them up during the holidays, and don't get me started on the interviews for new pupils and the many evening spent writing references for uni and school reports and lots of other things that he might get called on to do. (he still writes references for jobs years after they leave the school)

We have kids who would like to see their Dad sometimes, but as we all know teachers don't work hard, and get so much holiday - they can work late another evening after all it is just one more evening.

The school has said that they will contact you - they will contact you, and you will probably get more information than you would get on the open evening.

squeezedatbothends Tue 20-Nov-12 21:40:00

Spababe, I used to get frustrated with schools too until I became a teacher myself. My god. I haven't yet had a week where I've worked less than 60 hours. I'm in school from 7 am until 6.30 pm every day then take work home. There are 14 parents evenings per year, two open evenings, presentation evening, year 6 intake evening, year 7 settling evening, concerts, plays, fund raisers and charity events....so think it through. If you can't get an appointment on PE then call the school and leave messages for the individual teachers you want to speak to. When they get a spare minute, they'll call you back and you can have your two way conversation.

Hulababy Tue 20-Nov-12 21:42:44

What hours are parents evening then?

I never got away from parent's evening before 9pm - often later. Even at the infants I now work at teacher's don't get to go home til 7:30 - and they see less children and do it over 2 evenings.

noblegiraffe Tue 20-Nov-12 21:43:26

Spababe, you're stropping like the school has refused you any contact with the teachers at all. Do you seriously need a face to face meeting to ask a teacher how they are stretching the brightest? Actually, I'll tell you, the answer is no. That can be dealt with perfectly well over the phone or via email.

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