Saturday, 27 September 2008

Public school teachers - MIA

Junior started high school this year, and he has been attending what we think is one of the better state schools in our area. It's in a fantastic location (so fantastic, the state government tried to close the school and sell the land for development, as it has amazing water frontages), has good facilities and is not suffering from being stuffed to the gills with useless drongo kids.

We got some test results the other day - they were from some statewide assessments in Maths and English and that sort of thing. They came with a covering letter from the former-heroin addict that is now "running" the Education Department. In it, he said that we should feel free to contact Junior's teachers if we want to discuss the results etc etc.

We wish!

One of his teachers has called me twice this year, both times when I was at work, and both times to discuss his miserable performance in her subject. I spent a good 10 minutes on the phone each time, trying to get from her an idea of what we (we, as in her and us) should do to turn his performance around.

She didn't have a clue. She was just telling us that he was not doing well, probably because she was under orders to do so, but coming up with an action plan to improve his education was not in her job description.

During each call, I asked her to email me certain information, which she promised to do (and has never done). I have rung the school, asking to talk to her, and have never been put through. I have left messages with the school asking repeatedly for the information to be sent through - we've never heard anything back.

J went to a parent-teacher night earlier in the year, and that turned into a complete debacle. She was supposed to have 5 minutes with each teacher, but the teachers were so disorganised and ill-disciplined, everyone ran over time and she missed out on speaking to several of them. When she met the teacher where we have most concern about Junior's performance, all she wanted to talk about was how her sister was pregnant. J's assessment of the teacher was that she was straight out of teacher's college, was completely clueless and utterly scatter brained. We have enough trouble with Junior being scatter brained - he is 12 and full of hormones, so you expect that from him. But from his teacher?

J of course asked again for certain information to be emailed to us, but nothing ever arrived. The excuse we were given was that "your email address is wrong" - this was after I emailed the school to ensure that they couldn't get it wrong - all they had to do was hit "reply" and send me what I wanted.

I even left them our fax number, but that didn't help either.

They have our address, because we get a regular newsletter in the post, but they won't post out the educational information that we actually want. Newsletters - yes. Curriculum information - no. Begging letters asking for us to give the school money are also ok. But nothing that will actually allow us to "partner" with the school to provide the best education possible.

The receptionist at the school will not give out any phone numbers - none at all. I rang last month and asked to be put through to the Library (I wanted to know if an overdue book had been returned). The extension for the Library was busy, so the receptionist told me to call back later. When I asked for the direct number of the Library, she refused. Under her rules, I might have to call back 20 times before being put through, if the extension that I want to talk to is busy or not picking up. There was no consideration for the cost of my repeat calls, or the complete waste of my time.

I had a look at the website for my old school. It lists the office numbers and email addresses of the 20 most senior teachers and the Headmaster. It even lists mobile numbers for some teachers.

With Junior's school, the website does not even provide the name of the Headmaster, let alone their email address or phone number. There is a generic, Department-supplied email address, and the reception phone number. And that is it.

So, Mr Heroin-Addict (former), how on earth am I supposed to get in touch with anyone at this school to discuss Junior's performance? Should I just front up one morning at Assembly and make it known that I want to talk to the dingbat in charge? I might want to talk to the teachers that you employ, but they don't want to talk to me. A one-way conversation will not get us anywhere.

The state school system is always crying poor, and screaming that the private schools get too much money. Well, here's some news for you - you don't deserve any more money, because you are a useless pile of trolls. You are worth less than a thimble full of toe fungus. You are a disorganised, disinterested, un-dismissable rabble.

If Junior does not pull his socks up this semester, I'm going to start attending the local Catholic church each week (a tough gig for a lapsed Anglican like me) in order to get him into one of the local Mick schools.

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