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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:33 pm
Posts: 239
Location: London
DD has asked me if I could complain to her school about one of her science teachers (she has two). Her grounds for complaint are:
• poor teaching - teacher shows them Powerpoints and gets them to take notes. (I asked what else she would expect, she said worksheets etc. - he is giving them information but not getting them to engage with it, I think is what she means).
• he has only done one practical so far this term (I don't know what would be normal, though)
• he sets very little homework
• he ignores them if they ask questions in class
• he has a very strong foreign accent which makes him difficult to understand.

I'm particularly doubtful about complaining about the last one - on the other hand, if the children can't understand what he says it's hard for them to learn. There were other stories, too, mainly involving him being cavalier about safety.

To put this in context, DD is in Y10. She has already sat two GCSE modules and will be sitting two more in January, one of them in this teacher's subject. She is putting together a revision timetable as I write and says she is 'furious' looking at the list of topics as she feels they haven't covered any of them properly.

Schools complaint procedure in the first instance is supposed to be to complain directly to the teacher involved but that doesnt' seem appropriate here; I'm thinking of contacting the head of Science. My questions are:

(a) are these reasonable grounds for complaint, and
(b) what can I reasonably expect the school to do?

(I'm trying very hard to be reasonable!)


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:38 pm 
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It's quite difficult for you to complain when you don't actually know for sure what's happening. Could your dd and a friend go and talk to the Head of Year about it? at this age, probably better than you wading in.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:54 pm 
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Location: London
Thanks, kate1. Yes, I think maybe the head of year - or we could even approach the teacher himself and say that DD is worried about the module and needs more support.

I forgot to mention in my original post that one of the issues my daughter mentioned is that he has problems controlling the class, so there is quite a bit of disruptive behaviour. TBH I feel quite sorry for the teacher.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:19 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:46 am
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Hiya. When we had a 'complaint' about a teacher last year we decided to email the Head of year with a list of all the worries clearly set out. kept it very calm but clear that we wanted to take it further and needed answers. We were invited in to see the head of year to discuss the issues and many were sorted out. Interestingly it was obvious that there had been other issues with the teacher before so it wasnt new to the head of year!
So, my advice would be definitely write something to the school. Its too important not to, especially in year 10. Good luck :)


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
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Use 'hard' evidence e.g. homework because that is obvious from planners and can be checked.

There is still half a term to go so they won't have covered all the topics yet ... the head of department should be planning a work scrutiny to check on the content of exercise books; ask if this is going to happen as you are worried that they are not covering the syllabus.

The point about accents is difficult - maybe request that key vocab is written on the board? This does help in all classes so you can't be accused of being racist.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:01 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:00 pm
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Is the teacher British but with a strong accent? or a foreign trained teacher? This is not a racist question but a matter of teaching styles.
In many countries a teacher will do as your DD describes, make a presentation and expect the class to take notes.
In African, Asian and South American schools, class sizes tend to be large and full of calm pupils who expect to sit in silence and never dream of interrupting or asking questions. The teacher would not expect to engage them in the way our DCs would be used to. With large classes this is not practicable and the culture in schools is of the old "fill the empty vessel" theory of teaching.
One of my colleagues did an exchange with a Chilean Teacher. She was plonked in front of a class of 120 pupils! They sat in eerie silence throughout her lessons and she could not get them to question anything. Her counterpart (taking her Class in Yorkshire) was completely flummoxed that this tiny (for her) class of 32 asked her for expansion and discussion.

If he was Trained and taught in these regions that would explain his methods. He would also be unused to unruly behaviour in class and not have strategies in place to deal with it.

However, he should be being monitored by his Head of year. All teachers have regular performance management meetings and Heads of year should observe lessons several times a term. My best guess is that he may not realise this teaching style is not appropriate and he may find it hard to adapt it if that is what he is used to.

Alternatively, is he a new teacher? He may just not have enough experience yet to understand what is needed.
Is he an older teacher set into the old "fill the empty vessel" theory?

In any case, his Head of year should be on top of it. And if not he should be made aware. Are there other pupils raising the same issues? This would be a good way of sounding out the scale of your DDs concerns.
The one O level I failed was Spanish, due to a poor teacher. On investigation, we pupils realised we had all failed and then that no-one had passed in her class for 5 years! If matters are not raised, poor teaching will go on for years.

I would suggest a)sound out other parents, b) tentative meeting with Head of year.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:34 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:06 pm
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Location: West Watford
I've 'complained' three times in the past about different teachers in my children's secondary schools and each time there has been a positive outcome. But, I've done it by telephoning and speaking to the Head of the relevant subject, not by letter. If you speak to someone, they can hear that you sound calm and friendly, and also worried on your child's behalf. Letters, no matter how carefully written can be more easily misinterpreted. It's also easier to say 'I know how... (as an example: difficult it can be fitting all the curriculum coverage etc etc, but practical work is surely important to help embed understanding etc etc), rather than write down all the detail, which, actually you want them to know, but in print can look a little obsessive. Or at least it does with the detail I can go into!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 6:50 pm 
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Location: East Kent
I think I would go for midway..make an appointment to see head of year/subject


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:25 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:56 pm
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Will he notice if she works from a commercial study guide during his lesson? If she doesn't find that his powerpoint and take notes approach works for her she could switch to this. If questioned by the teacher she could say this suits her learning style better, and could he speak to the head of dept to see if it's OK for her to do that!!

I was surprised at how little practical work was done at GCSE by my stepchildren. Still got A*s. No need for school labs any more.

Hope in the meantime that saying something to the school improves things. Can she switch groups?


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:00 pm
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some schools get scared to do chemistry practicals because of the health and safety regulations that tie everything in knots these days. Sometimes the school insurance won't cover them for this or goes up by too much so the school doesn't think it cost effective.


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