The school newsletter has been lying around in the drift of papers on our dining room table for the last couple of weeks, waiting to be tidied away. I read it when I came out of hospital, starting, as one would, with Dear Parents and Families on the front page. I wondered what it meant. Husband read it at some point during half term. “What does this mean?” he asked. Sister, a teacher of some 20+ years and married to the sort of head teacher who gets put into difficult schools to sort them out, read it: “Where’s the letter from the head?” “That’s it on the front page” I said. “You’re joking!” she said. A couple of friends who picked it up and read it as they passed through had similar responses.
So what did this letter say? I would like to be charitable and think that perhaps the Head didn’t have time to write it herself. Or perhaps she was ill when the newsletter went out. It is less than 200 words (how long does that take to write?) and the paragraph that really flummoxed us all was this:-
“At the beginning of August our pupils in S3, 4, 5, & 6 received their results. These remain very strong, with more pupils getting Standard Grades, Highers and Advanced Highers. Many pupils had significant individual successes. As a school we are focussing on how we can support and recognise our pupils’ achievements more effectively.”
Once we all overcame the initial “Well of course more pupils passed Standard Grades – there was a whole extra year group taking them” we were left thinking and?? so?? Your meaning is?? In the end, my interpretation was that, although some individual children had done particularly well, overall the results this year were poorer than the school had hoped for.
There are a couple points to take from this. First of all, if the school places any importance on communication and working in partnership with parents, there has to be some sort of leadership from the top. This letter on the front of the newsletter was something of an insult to our intelligence; I read it and felt that not only could the head not be bothered to put something together for the newsletter, she doesn’t want to tell us what is going on. Secondly, I hope the Higher and Standard Grade English classes are being taught to write more clearly and effectively than this letter demonstrates.
Oh, and thirdly – I don’t really like getting personal (other than my own person of course) in this blog, but I couldn’t let this one go. I hope my children aren’t marked men after this. Do I need to look for a new school? And can troublesome parents be excluded, I wonder?
Postscript: Following Don’s comment below, I realise that this post sounds truly negative. My apologies 😳 to those concerned for not pointing out that the inside of the newsletter was, well, newsy with loads of information on what’s going on in the school. I enjoyed reading all that. My gripe is purely with the letter on the front cover. So keep the newsletters coming. But, erm, could we have a calendar of events with the next one please? You know the sort of stuff – dates of parents evenings (because I’m sure you know when they are), reports, concerts, open evenings, that sort of thing. 😎
Post postscript: Does that count as my D7 done?