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How to deal with parents' evening

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Parents evening

Be organised, and prepare

Make a list of points you want to raise and take a notepad with you - it's easy to forget things. Ask your child for a list of teachers names and subjects before you go, says headmaster Andrew Smetham from Purbeck Secondary School, Dorset. There's nothing worse than arriving at a parents' evening and forgetting who teaches what.

At some schools, children have to book appointments for their parents. Make sure you have appointments with everyone you want to see, not just the teachers your child wants you to!

Re-read your child's reports and take them with you, advises educational psychologist Trevor Jellis. Think about what you want to discuss. For example, does your child have any particular problems or have their grades gone up or down recently.

Pin the teachers down

Don't accept comments such as 'John doesn't concentrate'. Ask for examples. In which class doesn't he concentrate? What does he do? From this, you could get some clues as to how to sort out the problem. Maybe he loses concentration before lunch, when he's hungry. Or maybe he just doesn't like certain subjects and they need to interest him more.

Ask for privacy

If you want to speak privately to a teacher, ask in advance, says the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations. A good school will arrange this, says spokeswoman Margaret Morrissey.

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Don't feel blamed

If the teacher criticises your child, don't feel totally responsible. Some teachers just expect the parents to sort out the problem, says educational psychologist Peter Kendall. Put the ball back into their court. Ask them what they can do. Say: 'We support our child as much as possible but you see a lot of him, too, so we'd appreciate your help in this area.'

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