View Full Version : Letter from my son's Headmaster - thoughts please!


cherries
12-01-16, 05:27 PM
I've changed the names for the sake of confidentiality - the background is that my fifteen year old son is due to sit his GCSE's this academic year and, as matters stand, I feel that his school is not helping him to achieve his potential. NO adjustments have been made by his school and he is struggling with grammar, both in French and Latin. I have asked that, due to his working memory weakness, he be given more practice in the form of short exercises that he can complete at home. He presently takes concerta medication.

It was recommended by the educational psychlogist that my son receive supervised prep at school, but he doesn't receive this.


Dear Ms Please-go-away

I am writing to follow up our conversation about Lazy's Latin and French work, as I would like to clarify what we agreed, and why it needs to be done in this way.

I have highlighted below the two phrases which I want to clarify with you.

Firstly, we were all agreed that Lazy needs to practice grammar regularly in both subjects, and 15-20 minute exercises are the right way for him to approach this work.

However, he needs to take primary responsibility for it, which is the habit and skill he must develop for future study and work, here and beyond.

Rather than be given the work therefore, I asked him to approach his teachers and check with them what he should be doing from his textbook or revision guide. It was not extra prep as such, rather guidance for his own extra work.

Clearly, as we discussed, teachers will be revising and testing this work over the next 5 months, but Lazy needs to do the learning work first. Mr Couldn't-care-less agreed to check with Lazy that he is having these conversations and doing the extra work.

Secondly, we did not discuss the marking of work. This will of course be helpful for Lazy, but he canít assume teachers can do this. I am sure that they will want to support the extra work that he produces in whatever way they can, but there is a lot he can do for himself first and with your support at home or online, in learning the key vocabulary and grammar.

I do not wish to be, nor to appear, unsupportive. In fact, I know teachers here will go the extra mile for pupils, and they will certainly give Lazy guidance for this extra work. But for the sake of developing himself to be more independent, beyond the immediate needs of his GCSE exams, Lazy must be shown how, and encouraged, to take more responsibility, as we discussed at our meeting.

Mr Couldn't-care-less will confirm how Lazy is doing later this week.

With best wishes,

I couldn't care less either

TygerSan
12-01-16, 05:42 PM
However, he needs to take primary responsibility for it, which is the habit and skill he must develop for future study and work, here and beyond.

. But for the sake of developing himself to be more independent, beyond the immediate needs of his GCSE exams, Lazy must be shown how, and encouraged, to take more responsibility, as we discussed at our meeting.

Those are the two sentences that make me :doh:

There is a time and a place for "Lazy" to practise self-advocacy skills. There will be a time in which "Lazy" needs to "take more responsibility" and "be more independent", but it strikes me that perhaps the GSCE year is *not* the year to focus on such lofty goals, seeing as a *lot* rests on the results.

cherries
12-02-16, 10:01 AM
Thanks for your input TygerSan. I agree with what you say, especially as my son is the youngest in his year, having only just turned 15. The message I received from the letter is: (a) 'we don't think your son is putting in enough effort' and (b) 'his teachers don't have the time to mark any exercises he does in his own time'.

Irrespective of the ADHD, it seems to me that they don't seem to do much grammar practice at all, so given his poor working memory, what he receives simply isn't adequate.

As I understand it, ADHD is a disorder of executive function, so to expect him to self-monitor, be more organised and approach his teachers seems unrealistic to me. If these skills came easily to him, I'd not have needed to ask for support in the first place.

Also, if there is no dispute that he needs the extra practice, why are they so reluctant to provide it?

In all honesty, I felt very annoyed on his behalf when I read the letter, as they do so little for him. He doesn't receive the supervised prep that was recommended by the Ed psych and he doesn't have an up to date IEP. Also, he's been refused extra time in exams, despite the fact that CAMHS has recommended it.

I'm told that they're in breach of the Equality Act, but that doesn't do me much good at this stage, I'm afraid. :mad:





Sent from my iPad

Caco3girl
12-02-16, 02:07 PM
My take away from the letter is that if your son needs to be doing extra work then he should construct the extra work for himself, do it, and then check to see if he got it right. If he repeatedly gets one type of thing incorrect then he should ask about that one specific section.

There are many students who don't have ADHD that run programs like Quizlet to get additional repetitions, or make up notecards with a blank spot on the front and the answers on the back. Asking a teacher to create and grade additional work...well to be blunt, it's not her issue. She is teaching everyone the same and if your son needs more then he is going to have to provide the "more" himself.

As for the being denied extended time, I do not understand that unless he hasn't utilized his extra time in normal school.

Lunacie
12-02-16, 02:59 PM
My take away from the letter is that if your son needs to be doing extra work then he should construct the extra work for himself, do it, and then check to see if he got it right. If he repeatedly gets one type of thing incorrect then he should ask about that one specific section.

There are many students who don't have ADHD that run programs like Quizlet to get additional repetitions, or make up notecards with a blank spot on the front and the answers on the back. Asking a teacher to create and grade additional work...well to be blunt, it's not her issue. She is teaching everyone the same and if your son needs more then he is going to have to provide the "more" himself.

As for the being denied extended time, I do not understand that unless he hasn't utilized his extra time in normal school.

I didn't see that the OP was asking for teachers to create and grade additional work. :confused:

She is asking for help in the areas where her son struggles, and I thought she said that
the school agreed to that, and hasn't followed through on the agreement to provide help.

sarahsweets
12-02-16, 07:49 PM
My take away from the letter is that if your son needs to be doing extra work then he should construct the extra work for himself, do it, and then check to see if he got it right. If he repeatedly gets one type of thing incorrect then he should ask about that one specific section.

There are many students who don't have ADHD that run programs like Quizlet to get additional repetitions, or make up notecards with a blank spot on the front and the answers on the back. Asking a teacher to create and grade additional work...well to be blunt, it's not her issue. She is teaching everyone the same and if your son needs more then he is going to have to provide the "more" himself.

As for the being denied extended time, I do not understand that unless he hasn't utilized his extra time in normal school.

If the teacher cant go over his extra work to check it, how will he be able to see that he is progressing, practicing the right things and that he is comprehending the details? Sure she isnt expected to heavily grade every verb or noun, but he deserves to know if he is headed in the right direction.

cherries
12-04-16, 07:02 PM
Thank you all for your valued input.

The position is that my son is not at all good at self-monitoring - he thinks his work is a lot better than it is, and, when he says he's learnt something, he usually hasn't. For example, when I test him on vocabulary, it takes a long time because he thinks he knows the words, but we soon discover that he really doesn't.

With this in mind, I feel that he'd be disinclined to ask his teachers for help. (He's also quite shy).

It's like Lunacie's quote: 'ADD is not a problem of knowing what to do; it is a problem of doing what you know'.
-RUSSELL A. BARKLEY, PH.D.

I feel that he needs his teachers to provide him with more structure, clearer instructions and firm deadlines. When I was at school, for example, we had strict deadlines and a lot more tests and homework.

One of the issues is that, if he doesn't complete an assignment or fails to complete it to a reasonable standard, in general, he's not require to re-do it, (unless I find out).

He tells me that quizlet doesn't help him at all, but that he can't explain why.

What I don't understand is why his teachers seem to be so unaware that he's struggling - it's not until I ask questions that they check and I then find out that he's performed poorly in something.

Although he's quite bright, his essays are generally lacking in detail and quite disjointed and nonsensical in parts, which is a big concern, at this stage.

He's never been given extra time to complete his exams, although he regularly fails to complete his classwork and homework assignments on time. Last summer, he was unable to finish quite a few of his exam papers. He makes a lot of careless mistakes and really does need that opportunity to finish and check his answers.

Apart from the extra time issue, I suppose my question is, to what extent should his teachers be taking the initiative, recognise that he's struggling and provide extra support?

At the moment, I'm really stretched, as I feel that he really needs my support in relation to all of his subjects and there simply aren't enough hours in the day.

cherries
12-04-16, 07:09 PM
If the teacher cant go over his extra work to check it, how will he be able to see that he is progressing, practicing the right things and that he is comprehending the details? Sure she isnt expected to heavily grade every verb or noun, but he deserves to know if he is headed in the right direction.

Thanks, sarahsweets - this is how I feel. I don't think it would take his teachers very long at all to have a quick look at some short grammar exercises, for example, just to check that he's understanding and doing ok.

Also, because he's such a procrastinator, he does need that structure where he's given a short deadline to hand something in.

Lunacie
12-04-16, 07:46 PM
Thank you all for your valued input.

The position is that my son is not at all good at self-monitoring - he thinks his work is a lot better than it is, and, when he says he's learnt something, he usually hasn't. For example, when I test him on vocabulary, it takes a long time because he thinks he knows the words, but we soon discover that he really doesn't.

With this in mind, I feel that he'd be disinclined to ask his teachers for help. (He's also quite shy).

It's like Lunacie's quote: 'ADD is not a problem of knowing what to do; it is a problem of doing what you know'.
-RUSSELL A. BARKLEY, PH.D.

I feel that he needs his teachers to provide him with more structure, clearer instructions and firm deadlines. When I was at school, for example, we had strict deadlines and a lot more tests and homework.

One of the issues is that, if he doesn't complete an assignment or fails to complete it to a reasonable standard, in general, he's not require to re-do it, (unless I find out).

He tells me that quizlet doesn't help him at all, but that he can't explain why.

What I don't understand is why his teachers seem to be so unaware that he's struggling - it's not until I ask questions that they check and I then find out that he's performed poorly in something.

Although he's quite bright, his essays are generally lacking in detail and quite disjointed and nonsensical in parts, which is a big concern, at this stage.

He's never been given extra time to complete his exams, although he regularly fails to complete his classwork and homework assignments on time. Last summer, he was unable to finish quite a few of his exam papers. He makes a lot of careless mistakes and really does need that opportunity to finish and check his answers.

Apart from the extra time issue, I suppose my question is, to what extent should his teachers be taking the initiative, recognise that he's struggling and provide extra support?

At the moment, I'm really stretched, as I feel that he really needs my support in relation to all of his subjects and there simply aren't enough hours in the day.

This sounds very much like my oldest adhd granddaughter's first two years in
high school. She finally managed to convince the school to allow her to transfer
to online school. That was so much better for her. I wish she was here to tell
you about how it worked better for her, but she moved to K.C. back in June.

Caco3girl
12-05-16, 09:33 AM
Thanks, sarahsweets - this is how I feel. I don't think it would take his teachers very long at all to have a quick look at some short grammar exercises, for example, just to check that he's understanding and doing ok.

Also, because he's such a procrastinator, he does need that structure where he's given a short deadline to hand something in.

In my sons school the teachers have after school hours for extra help. Does your sons school have that option?

When my son is given a project he makes up a timeline with the teacher. He doesn't want to, he is SURE he can keep up, but I make it mandatory. He goes after school or after class, takes out his written planner and they say okay the project is due in 2 weeks. In 3 days I want to see part A done, in 6 days I want to see part B...etc. The teachers look at it AFTER school.

The thing to remember is these teachers may have 5 or more kids in each class that are special, and they may have 7 classes per day. Then you have the kids whose parents find out that there is extra work available and want their kids to do the extra work (even though their child already has a 98% in the class)...the teacher can't open the door for extra help DURING the class, it just opens it up for too many other students, and you can't help one without helping all, and that could mean an extra 20+ hours per week of extra work for the teacher, which isn't reasonable to ask.

Caco3girl
12-05-16, 09:40 AM
Thank you all for your valued input.

The position is that my son is not at all good at self-monitoring - he thinks his work is a lot better than it is, and, when he says he's learnt something, he usually hasn't. For example, when I test him on vocabulary, it takes a long time because he thinks he knows the words, but we soon discover that he really doesn't.

With this in mind, I feel that he'd be disinclined to ask his teachers for help. (He's also quite shy).

It's like Lunacie's quote: 'ADD is not a problem of knowing what to do; it is a problem of doing what you know'.
-RUSSELL A. BARKLEY, PH.D.

I feel that he needs his teachers to provide him with more structure, clearer instructions and firm deadlines. When I was at school, for example, we had strict deadlines and a lot more tests and homework.

One of the issues is that, if he doesn't complete an assignment or fails to complete it to a reasonable standard, in general, he's not require to re-do it, (unless I find out).

He tells me that quizlet doesn't help him at all, but that he can't explain why.

What I don't understand is why his teachers seem to be so unaware that he's struggling - it's not until I ask questions that they check and I then find out that he's performed poorly in something.

Although he's quite bright, his essays are generally lacking in detail and quite disjointed and nonsensical in parts, which is a big concern, at this stage.

He's never been given extra time to complete his exams, although he regularly fails to complete his classwork and homework assignments on time. Last summer, he was unable to finish quite a few of his exam papers. He makes a lot of careless mistakes and really does need that opportunity to finish and check his answers.

Apart from the extra time issue, I suppose my question is, to what extent should his teachers be taking the initiative, recognise that he's struggling and provide extra support?

At the moment, I'm really stretched, as I feel that he really needs my support in relation to all of his subjects and there simply aren't enough hours in the day.

The way it has been told to me is that teachers do not search out students that are failing or need extra help, the students must find the teacher if they need something they aren't getting.

To help my son with the disjointed paragraphs I ask him to read it out loud....if he starts stumbling over the sentences he knows what to fix and that is a long term fix he can accomplish without me. The goal for the kid has to be that they find solutions to fix their issues themselves. As they progress in school no teacher will help them unless they ask for it, and even then at University they may not help. It's important to find something now that he can do himself to help himself rather than depending on others to assist him, and I think that is what the headmaster was trying to say in his letter.