Last week saw us attend our first Year 7 Parents’ Evening. As fleglings – this is our first ‘grown-up’ Parents’ Evening at Secondary School.
You may have seen my recent post about the Booking System, although I must confess to having been ill-advised here. I talked of being given 5 minute consecutive slots for appointments in different parts of the school and having to change them to allow time for moving around. This was not actually the case as the teachers are sat together, silly me! However, every cloud and all that – what this actually meant was that our schedule ran really smoothly because we had a few gaps in between. What is it they say about mistakes being full of benefits?!
So as I said in my previous post, this is the first of our Parents’ Evenings at Secondary School and we found it really useful on a number of levels.
This Parents’ Evening is generally the first interaction you will have had with the school on this scale (all being well!) since the Admission Evenings’ this time last year. All information is communicated via your child or email. Updates will have been received via termly progress reports and a combination of ‘Reward Cards’ or ‘Behaviour Points’. Behaviour Points will be given out if the Code of Conduct is breached. This includes talking so it is rare not have received one of these by the end of the year (in most cases).
It’s a great opportunity to meet the teachers. Knowledge of their subject for many was quite impressive. Just as well really! This may sound a silly thing to say but there is nothing more inspiring than to listen to a teacher that is passionate about their subject.
I do find it amazing how the teacher remembers each child and has something to say that is pertinent and of interest. It does feel weird that these people know your child pretty well and it’s the first time you’ve met them. The first of many of these occasions, I’m sure.
You will only have heard about the teachers from your child’s perspective. They may be biased! Now’s the time to make your own mind up.
Year 7 is a time of new friendship groups. Peers are important and you may find that your child is called out for chatting. Moved even. Don’t be horrified. It’s not uncommon.
You will be advised of things about your child that you were unaware of. If this is something positive and quite contrary to any behaviour you have witnesssed, smile inwardly and resist fist pumping the teacher. Head straight to the pub on leaving.
The new style GCSE system was naturally mentioned in terms of progress tracking. It’s four years away but it gives us time to come to terms with the new system grades and what they mean. For those of us still used to the ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level, it’s useful to start trying to get your head around this early.
Despite hearing that this evening is akin to speed-dating, we actually thought it was incredibly well organised. Considering the number of people involved it could have been mayhem. It wasn’t.
When your child first starts Secondary School, you don’t know what is normal, ‘the ropes’ so to speak. It’s a little bit like the transition from Infant School where they get taken by the hand and escorted in and then to Junior School where they go in by themselves. Parent contact becomes less and less. How much contact should one have? How much is too much? You will of course find that your Year 7 child will resist you having any contact with the school anyway. I’m not sure that there is a right answer to this. I have to say our contact has been minimal – necessarily so.
This is the year when the kids really start to take more responsibility for themselves. They are the ones receiving the instructions that need to be acted upon or passed on to the parents. There really is no greater way for them to learn such important life skills. You will hear various things from others in terms of contact with the school, everyone is different. Having almost completed this first year, I have to say that once again it’s about finding your own level, your ‘normal’ and your ‘happy’.
What was also talked of was the introduction this year of the end of Year 7 tests. These have been introduced this year to prepare children for their future examinations.
What every parent will ask themselves during their child’s time in Year 7 is ‘How Much Support Should I Give My Child with School Work‘. Once again it’s about finding your own balance. As far as these tests are concerned though, we have seen it as an opportunity to demonstrate ways that will help revision and retention of information. That is a learned skill and having done it wrong myself at school with no guidance and seen it done wrong, I would always offer support with this.
Equally, planning may not be a honed skill at this age. When faced with a test in every subject over the course of several weeks, a revision schedule is well advised.
So, in summary we found the evening to be particularly useful and welcome at this stage of Year 7. It is a far more comprehensive overview of your child from the perspective of how your child is performing across all of the subject areas as well as in general.
I hope this is helpful for those that are yet to encounter their first Parents’ Evening in Year 7.