Long Melford parents claim children are ‘just repeating year’ in dispute
Parents say they feel their children are being failed after four pupils were dropped into a lower year in a village primary school in a bid to reduce class numbers.
The Year 4 children of Jane Brown, Natasha Bojko, Sarah Penny and one other parent were dropped from the class and put into a Year 3 tutor group at Long Melford Primary School - part of the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Multi Academy Trust.
They say they believed their children would be moved alongside other pupils as split year groups were created to manage class numbers, with Year 5 being oversubscribed after a decision to reduce the number of Year 5 classes from two to one.
However, the parents of those pupils affected said that after some parents complained, just four pupils were moved down.
This, they feel, has led to the affected pupils simply repeating Year 3.
“The head promised they would be given Year 4 work but it isn’t. My daughter [Year 4] is now in the same class as my son, [Year 3] which isn’t ideal,” said Mrs Brown, who lives with her husband and four children in The Limes, Long Melford.
“They are doing the same work and homework so she’s basically repeating the year.
“We’ve had meetings but feel we’ve been fobbed off. We would like the children to be put back where they belong. It’s all a bit of a nightmare.”
The parents say they were willing to give the split year groups a try but thought there would be more than just a few children held back.
They say they were told it was not being based on ability but now believe their children, who have additional support in different subjects, have been specifically picked out.
Mrs Brown says it is already affecting the children.
“My daughter says ‘I’m not good enough to be in my year group’. I don’t think she [headteacher Amanda Woolmer] realises how much it is affecting them. Especially the four of them.
“It could make them targets for bullying. Children are asking why she is in their class. The children have been really affected by it. They’ve lost their sparkle really. Pulled away from their friendships. Repeating work they did last year is not in their best interests”
Alongside the other two parents the 39-year-old was also critical of a move to allow the four pupils to join in with their Year 4 classmates in registration, music, science, French and P.E., saying this added to the confusion.
Parents of children affected were informed of the decision the week before October half-term.
Mrs Brown has written letters to the headteacher and head of governors asking how long her daughter will be in the class and for a plan of action on what she will be taught.
However, says she has yet to receive a response and has referred the matter to Ofsted.
“We are just very disappointed they have taken such a big decision on our children’s education without being very clear with us,” said Mrs Brown.
“If they had said ‘we will be dropping your children’, I would have said no way. I feel lied to.”
Mrs Brown said she had considered removing her children from the school but her husband, born and bred in the village, was against the idea.
In response Jane Sheet, diocesan director of education for the academy trust, said: “All schools seek to deploy resources in the most effective way so that the children benefit from being taught in classes of an optimum size.
“At Long Melford three classes of 19, 27 and 37 were re-arranged this term to ensure that they were more even-sized, to 23, 30 and 30.
“Parents of children who were moving classes were given the opportunity to make an appointment to discuss with the head teacher.
“Teachers of mixed-age classes are used to setting homework that is appropriate for the age range. The school’s main priority is to provide the best possible education for all its pupils and to organise classes to maximise learning.”
Becky Poynter, chair of governors, said: “Whilst it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss individual children, we always take parental complaints seriously and try to work with parents to find an acceptable solution, that keeps the educational interests of the child at the heart of the issue.”