A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

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GuyD73
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A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby GuyD73 » Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:11 pm

This post might be of interest to those of you with reception aged children this year or next, or those considering a nursery place within a primary school setting too. It's a long post but has a happy ending! :D

I have to admit I was pretty dismayed when my child’s primary school, Allfarthing in Wandsworth, advised us of the scheduled start for reception year children in September. The first part made a great deal of sense – the youngest would go in first for half days, in small groups of 10 until all the children had had a morning by the end of the first week of term. It was the fact that we were then told we’d only be getting half days for a full further two weeks, to allow for ‘home visits’, that I found excessive.

For those that don’t know, home visits are when a teacher and teaching assistant (or nursery staff) visit you in your own home to meet your child in its home environment. I don’t want to get into this too deeply but some of the respective schools of thought are – schools will say that it’s useful for teachers to see the kids in their home environment because if anything emerges that suggests said home environment is adversely affecting a child’s ability to learn, they are better placed to take remedial action. Others have said they think it’s a slightly cynical ploy to identify ‘problem families’ or spy on parents. I don’t quite subscribe to either view but do firmly believe they should be explicitly voluntary. I think it’s extremely tenuous to inflict these meetings on the whole year for the chance that it might be helpful to the teachers in a very small number of isolated cases, so I turned down my ‘home visit’, as did some others, but I believe many more probably would have done so, if told they were voluntary. Many parents, whose child, like mine, had spent a whole year in the nursery within the school, were utterly perplexed as to why one would ever be deemed necessary.

Anyway I thought prior to approaching the school, it would be sensible to do a bit of research as to whether this 3 week period was normal and widely adopted across the country, or whether it was a Wandsworth, or London, thing. So, I put a few posts up on parenting forums to see what other parents and teachers thought. Just to clarify, it was never my intention to restrict anyone else’s choice to have as long a settling in period as they wanted, I just felt the school could offer parents a choice if they wanted FT education for their child sooner.

As ever, sometimes these threads go off on tangents somewhat off topic and can occasionally get a bit narky, but they are well worth reading all the way through if this issue interests you.

https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/primary/a2 ... me-earlier

https://www.****.com/coffeehouse/chi ... 5bdcb498a6

The response was both amazing (in sheer number of replies) and enlightening.
Some of the things that emerged were:

More than half the country has never heard of ‘home visits’, let alone had one.
A majority of the country’s schools go straight into full time (sometimes with a proviso that those who want a gentler start can have it).

Many people believe that this policy is the very opposite of ‘settling’ because they are forced to use unfamiliar childminders for these odd 3 or 4 hour periods, upsetting their children at a time of change when that’s the last thing they need.

Others complain that when they have other children at different schools, it presents a logistical nightmare.

Some said that the cost of the additional childcare meant their kids would be going without some of their usual activities or treats

Others said that one or other, or both parents had to burn through most of their annual leave meaning that their family would miss out on a proper holiday that year.

A high proportion of teachers were against – some said they had experimented with this policy but generally found kids settled faster when going FT more quickly or straight away.

My personal view is that any policy whose impact is most keenly felt by those on low incomes cannot be a good thing. Those with full-time nannies or au-pairs, or those lucky enough to need only one parent to work, will probably not have been affected at all. Those on minimum wage, facing a 3 week period of additional childcare costs, have my sympathy. Above all, the school should be able to offer choice – a gentle start, or straight in – then everyone can have what they believe will suit their child best.

So, armed with this knowledge, I approached the Head, shortly into term. He read these threads and, I believe, was persuaded that the school should reconsider and see how they might offer choice to parents. He only joined in January, so it was fair of him to say that his hands were somewhat tied by the arrangements that were already in place regarding ‘home visits’ and the impact on resources, but he’d see what he could do. I’m very pleased to say he was able to bring forward the provision of full-time education by three days and pledged to look carefully at ways in which that earlier start could be offered to parents next year.

I was delighted by the head’s response, but somewhat disappointed by some peoples’ reactions to what I was trying to do. I will add first that lots of people were lovely, made smart, sensible or enlightening comments, sent me messages of support and thanks for what they considered ‘sticking up for them’. However, some tended towards the dim, blinkered and downright nasty.
Some of the responses I got included (and I paraphrase)

Oh suck it up, it’s only for three weeks, stop making a fuss (I fairly sure this was from a stay at home parent unaffected by the issue)
Others were quite beyond belief and went something like….

Schools know best, they’ve been doing this for donkeys’ years, so don’t question their policies because you’re undermining them. (as if we’re supposed to uncritically accept anything that a ‘professional’ or institution tells us and just pipe down?)

People said that what I was doing was a ‘waste of time’. Well, it would appear not….

People (laughably) said that by pointing out this policy impacted low-income people most was ‘inciting class hatred’. FFS, it’s a simple unalloyed fact!

People made daft (and not funny) ‘jokes’ about me ‘wanting education on in-set days next’ – ho-di-ho

Another said ‘amazed if you can approach the school respectfully I just don't think you have this in your DNA’ – er, wrong!

Anyway, some of these idiotic comments can be found on this earlier NVN thread

viewtopic.php?f=46&t=89793&hilit=excessive

However, there were also some constructive and useful comments (Thanks Liver bird) and it did reveal some interesting things… (Faced with the same situation, a teacher in Bournemouth challenged her school through the school’s adjudicator system and it ruled in her favour, leading the council to remind all schools of their obligations)

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... rents-work

So anyway, the point of posting the outcome of this dialogue is so that parents can see that they are not powerless to influence school policy. Do your research, build a consensus among other parents, approach the school politely and even ways of doing things that have been settled policy for some years, possibly decades, can be rethought and improved.

To the naysayers, I’m afraid you’ve all been proved emphatically wrong. I achieved more or less exactly what I set out to, and I look forward to playing a part in helping the school design a better system for families with two working parents next year.

Perhaps if other parents reading this, whose children are approaching school age, decide to ask this of their school too (do it in Jan/Feb when you first get offered your place), then we may see a number of other schools deciding that increased choice for working parents is both achievable and desirable. Then hopefully a large number of families may be able to avoid some of the inconvenience and suffering caused by an excessive period of settling in.

So, huge thanks to Mr Holmes and the teachers in reception year at Allfarthing for being open-minded, and doing their best to improve the situation this year. It is their efforts that may be the start of this entry system changing across the borough for the better. Bravo!

petal
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby petal » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:29 pm

I recall your long ranting posts on this topic and here you come back with another mega post. It's deluded to suggest that you have proven others wrong.. you sound quite bitter and pathetic writing that.

We are still talking about a miniscule part of a child's education and I still disagree 100%.
There is no right or wrong here, just difference in opinion. Most people have child care sorted before school and can adapt that for a very short one off period that this is.

We don't have the home visits which I do agree are OTT and somewhat intrusive.

My question is how you can insist that children who wish to have the full settling in won't be affected by those who reduce theirs. This is asked with the assumptions that the teacher/funding remains unchanged i.e. If they are meant to have 10 children doing a half day and suddenly there are more children it defeats the whole idea of settling-in in a calm small class setting.

lolaloves
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby lolaloves » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:12 pm

Jesus guy get a grip and focus on selling Fish

kfk101
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby kfk101 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 7:36 am

I didn't read the original post but I think that last post is excellent. To do all that research and collate the response so succinctly, make a case etc and go back to the school. Its a lot of work and I'm glad the school appreciated it and listened to the points put forward.

I wish we had more Mums like you at my children's school. Its so important for parents to get involved in the work that schools do, whether you agree or disagree with their policies. In my experience they much prefer an active and passionate parent body than a group that sits back and lets them get on with it, even if its more challenging sometimes.

For what its worth, although my post is not about whether the settling in is too long or not, I think it is. Sounds way over the top to me, you've raised many good reasons why its too long. Teachers are not social workers nor do they have the time to be social workers.

Well done.

freshairmum
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby freshairmum » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:50 am

Agree with the above poster, good for you GuyD73. Well done for sticking to your guns and following it through despite the barrage of criticism you received.
The discussion on the original post did raise some interesting points both for and against, and I personally agree home visits are a step too far in the majority of cases. Perhaps this will now bring changes across many schools, certainly in the borough.

GuyD73
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby GuyD73 » Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:51 pm

Thank you so much kfk101 and freshairmum, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for your kind comments.
I think you are both absolutely right with your respective points. I was delighted by the response of the school, they listened to parents, decided their system could be improved, and made it happen, which is exactly as it should be.
The consensus among parents and teachers does seem to be that home visits, if you have them at all, should absolutely be voluntary and that the period of 3 weeks is way too long.
I hope you are right freshair mum, I do hope this might be the start of many primaries rethinking their policies or, at the very least, adopting a much more consultative approach with parents on this issue.
Your comments also help throw into sharper relief the rather pathetic narky comments from the likes of Lolaloves and other usual suspects. You must have a very miserable existence to make such nasty comments on others’ posts apropos of nothing, and it makes you look like a rather sad individual, so you have my deepest sympathy and I do hope things get better for you. I suppose though, that the unintended consequence of your silly comment is that more people get to see my post, so thanks very much!
Here’s a quote for you Lolaloves, from another forum earlier today that you might like. ‘The great thing in the OP's case is that everyone worked together with the aim of good outcomes and good relationships through consensus, cooperation, flexibility and choice’ Indeed, and if you have a problem with that happy outcome, you can just crawl back under the rock of gloom from whence you came, frankly.
In other good news, I’ve been contacted by a publisher and a journalist today, so it looks like the issue is going to get a great deal more scrutiny which can only be a good thing.

GuyD73
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby GuyD73 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:41 pm

Hello Petal.
It seems you haven’t quite been paying attention to the facts in this post, so let me help you with that.

your words - My question is how you can insist that children who wish to have the full settling in won't be affected by those who reduce theirs. This is asked with the assumptions that the teacher/funding remains unchanged i.e. If they are meant to have 10 children doing a half day and suddenly there are more children it defeats the whole idea of settling-in in a calm small class setting.

As per both this and my original post, the 10 youngest kids go in for a half day in the first week, followed by the next ten etc, until all the children have had a half day by the end of the first week. I have always said this is a good thing, I think it makes a lot of sense and have no wish to change it. Thereafter ALL the children do half days for a fortnight. What I am suggesting is that from some point, as early as possible in the second week, FT should be offered to those who want it. This has ZERO IMPACT on those who wish to take their little darlings home before lunch OK? Please excuse the caps everyone but Petal seems to be having difficulty understanding this. So all the kids go for the morning, those that want to, stay for lunch and the afternoon. Not a complicated idea, do please tell me how those children whose parents have chosen mornings only are impacted by the fact that some of the children will also stay in the afternoon? They aren’t, simples. FFS this really shouldn’t need spelling out.

So onward to your next daft comment.

There is no right or wrong here, just difference in opinion.

Er no. I’d agree there are areas of this debate where that might be the case, but that’s not what I was specifically referring to is it?

What I was referring to are the series of idiotic and nasty accusations that you and a few other unhinged individuals threw at me in the last post (thinking of you Parsley Song, Live Green and aob).

I was apparently ‘undermining the school’ and ‘wasting the time of the head and teachers with your personal crusade.’

Funny that, the head and the school don’t seem to think so, neither do any of the other parents, so that leaves…? Oh, just you, on your own, OKaaaay.

It was referred to as a ‘waste of time’ - categorically not, I achieved what I set out to.

It was a ‘storm in a teacup’. Perhaps for a stay at home mum not impacted in any way, but tell that to the parents that emailed me to say they wouldn’t get a holiday this year, or their kids would miss out on stuff because of the increased childcare costs.

Oh yes and the mysterious ‘Chill’ – he or she of one post ever, who said I didn’t have ‘compromise in my DNA’. I. think. Not.

All these things above Petal are simply not accurate, have no basis in fact, so I feel quite entitled to call them ‘wrong’. If you disagree, please explain where there is anything remotely related to fact in any of these comments?

Perhaps you live in some sort of Trumpian, post-truth reality of ‘alternative facts’ but in my world, all the crap above is untrue / false / wrong. Not a ‘matter of opinion’.

You say I sound bitter, Ha! On the contrary, I am ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED. I have helped influence policy in a really small way and have advanced the idea of a more consultative approach from the school that offers a better, fairer system of choice for working families.

Is your child at Allfarthing Petal? Are you a stay at home mum? what's your issue here? Do you happen to own one of these lovely £2m(ish) houses round here so don't feel the pinch quite like some of your neighbours at the lower end of the income/wealth scale? It makes little difference to me but just curious as to where your (indefensible) position on this comes from? Why do you so strongly feel working families shouldn’t have a choice in this matter?

Anyway, aside from this, I would welcome comments from anyone sensible, in the borough of Wandsworth particularly, about what happens in your school. From a post on the SW18 mums FB group, it seems lots of WW schools go straight in after a much more limited 3 day ‘settling in’, so it may only be a small percentage that have this much longer period and it would be interesting to find out why...

Claphamconery
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby Claphamconery » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:57 pm

I don’t disagree with your thoughts around excessive settling in however I’m not sure why you are picking on Petal and other posters who disagree with you, doesn’t exactly encourage debate which is what you seem so desperate for?

Flowermummy
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby Flowermummy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:26 am

To the OP - well done to you and well done to the school for listening.

But what's this nonsense of calling other people's opinions "crap"??? This is a public forum, and you should be able to take others disagreeing with you. Otherwise it is you who is trump-like.

In fact I think this post should be locked by admin, as your last response to petal overstepped the mark.

GuyD73
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby GuyD73 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:39 am

Thanks very much for your comment flowermummy, indeed, well done the school. Just to clarify though, I am not referring to anyone’s opinions as ‘crap’, people are of course entitled to their opinions (though it’s helpful in a debate to have some sort of evidence-based reasoning for said opinions). No, what I’m referring to as ‘crap’ are the unwarranted, unfounded and more importantly nasty, false, unpleasant and insulting accusations that have been routinely hurled at me by some on this forum, particularly on the earlier thread.
I also politely disagree that the previous reply overstepped the mark, to my mind I am simply responding with a robust defence of the decency of my intentions and actions, which I feel is absolutely my right in the face of this vitriol.
I do totally agree though, that we should all aspire to remaining civil at all times, though I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always succeed in that aim. There have been many more heated threads on here than this one, and this is an important topic that people have strong views on, so I hope admin will let it run its course.
I’d very much welcome more comments from parents of reception year children about how their school did things and what they felt worked or didn’t work for their families.
I’ve discovered today that Beatrix Potter seem to run some extended stay and play sessions to introduce children gently to the school and the teaching staff and importantly, they offer a choice of ½ days and full days to parents from the middle of week two, which is an improvement.

Flowermummy
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby Flowermummy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:14 am

So you think this is civil??
"series of idiotic and nasty accusations that you and a few other unhinged individuals threw at me"

Sorry, not in my book.
And on that basis I have no interest in debating anything with you.

GuyD73
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby GuyD73 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:29 am

Fair enough.
When you've endured as much abuse as I have on this forum, simply for having fought for an improved solution for the school entry system for working families, it's difficult not to get a bit riled sometimes (and lash out a bit, yes). I'm only human and not going to apologise for that :D

the parsley song
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby the parsley song » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:40 pm

I agree with the above person who said that you should stick to selling fish. Do it well. Prosper. You obviously have too much time on your hands to write such long tracts - probably wasted hours of thinking/drafting/changing/re-drafting going into it. You are soooo aggressive towards people who don't agree with you and absolutely pour over anybody who remotely agrees with you. And you've admitted that you are having this discussion on several sites?! Don't be another victim of the internet.

Also, "abuse" is an extreme word for when people just disagree with you. :roll:

sw1234
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby sw1234 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:21 pm

This first post was bad. This one is worse. I think your initial intentions were good but you wanted to have the last comment on a thread that was going against you. It was going against you not because of your proposal (which was good) but because of the way you were handling it.
Of course an option for full time from the out is the best solution if the school can accommodate and your agreement with the school to reduce the settle time and plan changes for next year are to be commended. However one short post to all advising on this site (if you felt warranted) saying that after finding out about the extended settling in time that you had spoken to the head and managed to agree a change - giving the heads up to nappy valley that this is possible for anyone else in the same scenario would have sufficed. People would have thought good job and moved on. The long crusade of messages against those who didn’t agree with you in my opinion has just made you look poor despite your best efforts or intentions. I think that’s a shame.

GuyD73
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Re: A very happy conclusion to the issue of excessive ‘settling in’ periods for reception year children.

Postby GuyD73 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:18 pm

I’ll tell you what is a great shame sw1234, is that so often, posts on this forum get hijacked by people with little that’s positive or constructive to contribute (and it’s often the same negative people time and again).
It’s not about me going ‘on a crusade against those who disagree with me’ in the slightest.
What actually happened? – I was accused of wasting my time, undermining the school, creating a headache for the school and not having compromise in my DNA. Now I don’t about you but I consider that to be a series of unpleasant insults (you could call it abuse – semantics), which also happily turned out to be entirely inaccurate given the great response of the school. Under the circumstances sw1234, don’t you think these insults should have been retracted?
Now all I have done is respond robustly in defence of my actions and I will never make any apologies for doing that. Notice I have never been the aggressor in a single exchange, simply responded to barbs, like the above, being hurled in my direction.
Now if a few people on here think I have defended myself too robustly, then they’re entitled to that opinion obvs, but I disagree and honestly don’t care much, I think my response has been entirely proportionate.
Here’s the great thing though, this little fracas and the interest levels of lots of people in this issue, have meant that it’s been read 4,225 times at last count.
If, as a result of this exposure, even a handful of parents feel empowered to go to their school to seek a better solution, and if, as a result of that, ONE KID gets a family holiday, trip to the zoo or special treat they mightn’t have otherwise had (because their parents have had to pay for lots of extra childcare or burned through all their annual leave), then it will have absolutely been worth all the flack I’ve copped on here and the handful of hours invested in making this happen. (naysayers be damned! :evil: )
Interestingly, in a conversation with the head at Beatrix Potter yesterday, he said that his school, as well as primaries across the country in his experience, are very much moving away from home visits and extended settling in periods, so it may well be that I have simply helped to hasten a process that’s already underway.
Anyway, I think that’s me done on this thread, and I feel completely vindicated. Thanks again for the positive contributions here, and good luck to any parents who might also try to change things at their school for the better. :D


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