So as the calendar starts to fill with Christmas commitments it is time for my first parents evening at big school with my ex wife.
We have a two and a half hour ordeal of seeing every subject teacher for 5 mins, standing in corridors waiting for our turn like some educational deli counter at Waitrose or Sainsbury’s. Not once but over a dozen times, traipsing from classroom to science lab to class room and back to science lab. Not stopping for the toilet or the complimentary cup of tepid coffee or warm orange juice for fear of missing your allotted slot. Woe betide you, as if you do, you start to circle like a delayed plane coming in to Heathrow. If you’re lucky you can get fitted in.
So we see the teachers with their photos of children to remind them who your child is, and we start to notice a pattern; if he isn’t neater he will lose marks in his public exams and only get A’s not A stars. What!! Hang on, he is 11 and exams are 4 years away. What I want to know is how he is settling in, making friends and getting to grips with the organisation and the demands of secondary school. What I am hearing is ‘ we are all about exam results and we need to focus on that!’ I appreciate that these are targets and the ultimate goal of schooling, but I want a rounded well developed child not just a results machine.
As I watched the teachers it was clear that some were just reciting from crib sheet phrases they may give to dozens of parents; “contributes well”, “a bit messy with handwriting”, “occasional makes silly mistakes”etc. Ect. The teachers who do this are teaching subjects that my son had said he liked, but didn’t enthuse about, But some subjects, things I had ever come across before, he enthused about . Why? When I met the teachers I knew why … They didn’t read form mark books, or referee to sheets with pictures of children with notes against them, they looked at me and my ex wife and talked about our child; his growth, his behaviours and showed interest in him. They genuinely loved their subjects and teaching, and that comes across to my son .
His RP teacher (Religion and Philosophy) uses the Simpsons as an introduction to then talk about Judaism, another subject my son seems to do well at getting 100% in three exams ….LATIN !!!!! When we talk to the teacher he says he will do well because it is a language of structure and logic. He relates the subject to my son’s skills and highlights areas of potential problems when they do verbs, and how to support and help. The teachers make the subject and the difference!
When I came away from the evening I was pleased my son is doing well academically and we identified areas where we can help him improve but disappointed in the lack of enthusiasm from some staff and already the focus on public exams. He has been there less than a term and no one talked about his personal growth outside of their subjects.
He has a group of friends and goes to play days and teas after school. I know he is growing. perhaps my frustration with the school is more a realisation of how much you miss as a non-resident parent. The times I would chat about a day at school, the bits of homework you miss helping with or even being aware of. Something for me to think on and try and find a way of being a better parent.
Till next time have a great week.
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