Friday, 7 August 2009

About her Son's School and Education

So, we’re in school holiday mode and whilst The Joshua is not 100% occupied, he’s certainly 100% happier than he usually is during term time. I’m not having to listen to the weekday morning ritual of “Oh, PLEASE, why can’t I be home-educated?” whilst taking him to school each day nor am I having to listen to the tearful reports of the very real upsets that he has suffered during school hours on collecting him each afternoon.

My kid is not wimp. He’s not violent and he “walks away” from trouble if he can. During his first year at his school he’s been bullied quite badly resulting in the actual suspension of about three children. He’s on his school’s Gifted and Talented Register for his artistic prowess. Heaven only knows how kids are treated if they’re NOT on the register. His school is letting him down wholesale.

I received his school report in June which was, at first glance, pleasingly “okay” – when I’d managed to decipher the hieroglyphics that actually comprise the report. Once I’d had a more detailed trawl through the subjects, I was considerably less happy ... not with Josh but with the school. For Literacy (or for us older people “English”) – there was no report at all due to “staff absence”. English is a core subject. Joshua is good at English - probably rather more due to the fact that his aged mother is a slave to the language than from anything he is learning at school.

I discovered at an over-crowded and completely disorganised Parents’ Evening – also in June – that Joshua’s English teacher was on Maternity leave and therefore hadn’t written any school reports for the pupils she had taught during the year. Has the gestation period of pregnancy decreased or increased since I had Joshua just over 12 years ago? I thought it was still 9 months. Am I to believe that his English teacher was taken completely by surprise by her pregnancy? Or were her time management skills severely in need of attention? She had MONTHS in which to write reports for the children she was teaching – but she didn’t.

It’s usual during the last week of term for children at Joshua’s school to take part in “Activities Week” – where a little slack is cut from the usual routine and they’re allowed to do the things that they like to do in most lessons. FOUR weeks before the end of term, Joshua happily announced that on three consecutive days in Maths lessons, he and his classmates had been allowed to watch “films”. I wondered if the said films were in any way mathematically orientated. No. The Maths Teaching Assistant (Joshua has NEVER actually had a Maths “teacher”) was on sick leave and there were no other teachers OR teaching assistants to step into the breach in her absence.

Joshua has not had the same teacher or teaching assistant for two consecutive lessons throughout his entire first year at his school for Music. Invariably he and his classmates don’t learn anything about music at all ... they sit and draw.

His school is wonderfully endowed with the most excellent of facilities – particularly for a child like Joshua whose main interest and talent is Art. It is completely lacking in adequate staffing – and discipline for either teaching staff OR children. The whole place is in chaos.

I don’t say this very often but I am at a complete loss for words.


  1. So, I should shut up and not say a word about public schools here in Greece I guess. Similar problems but we were all under the impression that only we suffer from them.
    My only consolation is that the chaos and lack of organisation in Greek schools is good preparation for the adult reality.

    Having said that, that doesn't mean it's acceptable!

  2. Interesting blog, thank you! Mine are 4 and 6 and it's just dawned on me (from helping out at school and from the slow-down in my kids’ progress since they have gone there) that primary school is a lot of "waiting for your turn" and very little one-to-one time. And I would love to redress the balance with lots of enriching activities at home, but once they get home they are so exhausted they just want to play. I’m not going to stop them, either.

    So no school-fan here. I don’t think the school is a bad one, either, just the nature of learning with 30 children and 2-3 adults.

  3. This is a very, very bad school and you need to get him out of it as quickly as possible. You will not improve the school. The point about the English teacher is not that she hadn't done the reports but that her managers had not ensured that she'd done them. Contact your Local Education Authority posthaste and thump the table.

  4. Shocking! Although I thought things were bad in the British education system, I had no idea that they had sunk that low! If that's the way it is in the supposedly salubrious area of the country, I dread to think what must be happening in areas considered impoverished. Let'
    s hope your blog is read by the Minister for Education as well as your local schools authority and that some effort is made to start improving matters - it would be terrible to think the rot might have set in irrevocably.

  5. Is the school this way all throughout? Is there a teacher shortage? Why not Math(s) teacher? That's mindboggling along with no oversight of English teacher. Any school choice? Any equivalent of charter schools or magnet schools like we hate at least? Just very surprised.

  6. I have been thinking on this a lot of late, mainly because of my nephews.

    They are currently in Hamburg in a international school which is pretty awful, but their parents (my sister and her fella) have been debating when to come back for the kid's education.

    Ewan is already 10 and Connor is 6, the main concern is Ewan and him being nearly high school age. They are concerned about coming back and him missing out by having to straight into year 8 or 9.

    I have told them to get into the German education system, because then they will at least excel in another language, which is more than any school over here can offer at the moment.

    Would you ever consider home schooling or even getting a tutor in?