10 Dec 2019

Parents’ Evening: 25 Questions To Ask To Make the Most of Your Termly Teacher Meeting

The first Parents’ Evening of the year is fast approaching (it might even have passed for some of you!), and you might be struggling to think of what you could ask your child’s teacher in the short time you have with them. 

Luckily, we’ve put together some questions for you to keep in mind. Asking these will help you get a clearer picture of how your child’s been doing in school, and make the most of your Parents’ Evening!

What is Parents Evening?

At most primary and secondary schools, Parents’ Evening is a chance for you to sit face-to-face with your child’s teacher.

While most of your time together will be focused on academic progress, Parents’ Evening can also be a great chance to find out how your child is doing in school more generally.

When does Parents’ Evening happen?

At primary school, you’ll most likely have two Parents’ Evenings each year, one in the Autumn Term and one in the Spring Term. In summer you’ll usually be given an end-of-year School Report instead.

They usually happen in the second half of term on a weekday evening (so you may have to find childcare for a short while).

The evening might run for two or three hours, but you will only have a short time with your child’s teacher – about 10-15 minutes. At secondary school you might visit each subject teacher separately (especially as it gets closer to GCSEs), but for primary school children you’ll only meet their class teacher.

This means you have very little time to find out how your child is progressing – it’s important that you make the most of it! But it can be hard to think of the right questions in the moment, and the time you have is too precious to waste.

parents evening meeting

Confused about some of the terms used by your child’s teacher? Read our Parents’ Evening Jargon Buster!

N.B. Most of the questions below are useful to ask no matter your child’s year group. This order is just to show where they might be most useful.

Parents’ Evening Questions for Reception

In Reception the focus of Parents’ Evening will be more social than academic, especially in the first parents’ evening; the work they’ve been doing isn’t of the “Your child is below expectations” kind just yet!

With this in mind, it’s better to be armed with questions that help you get a more general picture of how your child is progressing. Some good questions include:

  1. How is my child doing emotionally?
    For children who haven’t been to Nursery especially, spending longer periods away from their parents can be difficult. It’s always a good idea to check that your child is happy being in school.
  2. Is my child settling in well?
    Related to the question above, you’ll want to know if your child is making friends and generally being sociable and friendly.
  3. How does my child get on with other children when they’re working?
    Even if the work children do in Reception isn’t very complex, it can be a great indicator of key skills like teamwork – something your child’s teacher is more likely to see than you are!
  4. Is there anything you’d like to know?
    You know your children better than anyone else, and your child’s teacher may want to know about likes and dislikes, things they enjoy doing etc. to make class more fun for them.
  5. What is my child especially good at?
    End on a positive note by asking about your child’s strengths!

Parents’ Evening Questions for KS1

At Key Stage 1 Parents’ Evenings get more into the routine you can expect for the next few years – your child’s progress becomes a bigger part of the meeting.

Of course, we’re still not up to standardised tests and huge milestones yet, so there’s no need to go overboard! Good questions at this point include:

  1. Is my child progressing as they should be?
    From Year 1 you can expect to see examples of your child’s work, and to hear about ‘Key Stage level expectations’. Ask about where your child is compared to these – it’s a good benchmark.
  2. Are they doing their best?
    Sometimes, working below or even at expectations doesn’t have to mean your child is struggling; they might just be unfocused or not putting the effort in. It’s good to get their teacher’s view about this.
  3. Is there anywhere my child could improve?
    Not just academically! You could ask this question about their schoolwork, but you might get a response about behaviour as well. Remember that your child’s teacher gets to see them in a different environment, and that no matter the answer, you’ll be able to help!

Parents’ Evening Questions for KS2

Key Stage 2 means harder work and SATs on the horizon, so your questions may get more and more academic, especially as your child gets to Year 5 and Year 6.

parents evening mother and child

    1. How long should my child be spending on homework?
      KS2 work is harder and often more time consuming than what your child experienced in Reception or KS1, so you can expect it to take a bit longer. But checking with their teacher can let you (and them) know if anything’s wrong!
    2. Is my child taking part in lessons?
      Your child may just be a little shy or quiet, but whether they contribute to lessons (for example by answering questions) can be a good indicator of struggles with a subject, or even a lack of confidence.
    3. Does my child need extra help with anything?
      Example classwork and what you see from your child’s homework is one thing, but asking their teacher openly is the best way to find out if they’re struggling with a subject.
    4. How can I help?
      You might already have a plan to help your child with whatever subject they’re struggling with, but check with their teacher before you start. They might say it’s as simple as finding some time to help with homework, or else recommend tutoring or some other solution.
    5. Does my child need to be challenged more?
      At the opposite end of the spectrum, Key Stage 2 is also the time when your child’s strengths become clearer. If they’re doing particularly well in one subject, it might be necessary to find new ways to challenge them both in and out of class.

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Parents’ Evening Questions for Year 6 and SATs

With the Key Stage 2 SATs fast approaching, there are some more specific questions you may want to ask to make sure your child does their best in the exams.

parents evening questions parents and teacher

  1. What do these results actually mean?
    As schools start SATs practice for Year 6 students, they might start using practice or past papers, and you might see results for these at Parents’ Evening. The standardised score system for the KS2 SATs are really quite confusing, and your child’s teacher can explain them clearly and pick out the bits you really need to know.(Some schools use practice papers at the end of Year 5, so you might see these confusing results even earlier!)
  2. Do you have any advice?
    You might have a revision plan already sorted (or your child’s tutor might), but their teacher could point out things you may have missed, or suggest specific topics to revise based on practice papers they’ve done in class.
  3. What is your revision plan?
    Your child’s teacher will have a revision plan set out for their students in the run-up to the SATs. Getting an idea of what their plan is will help you plan your own and make sure your child is revising the same things at home and in school.
  4. Is there anything we need to do to prepare for secondary school?
    Your child’s school will most likely have a ‘secondary school transition’ evening in the Summer term, but asking about this huge change early on can help you and your child get ready well ahead of time – academically or otherwise.

Questions for Special Needs Children

If your child has special needs, you may have specific questions related to their needs:

  1. Have you read my child’s Individualised Education Plan (IEP)?
    The IEP sets out the goals for a special needs child’s schooling, and how progress can be made towards them. If your child has an IEP, make sure their teacher is aware of what’s in it and is following the plan.

    parents evening sample iep

      A sample Individualised Education Plan, courtesy of TES.
  2. How are you/how is the school accommodating my child?
    This is important to ask early on in the school year – you want to know how the IEP is being followed, and if it isn’t, how quickly the necessary steps will be taken.
  3. What is the school’s special needs process?
    IEPs can take some time to be assessed and completed. Keep aware of how long this will take, and then keep up to date with it, so you can push for it if needed.
  4. Who else can I speak to about my child’s needs?
    While your child’s class teacher may have the most interaction with them in school, there are several other members of staff who may also work with them, especially if they have needs. If you haven’t got them already, the class teacher can provide you contact details for these staff e.g. the Special Educational Needs Coordinator.

General Questions

Finally, these questions are good to ask regardless of your child’s age or situation.

  1. How can we keep in touch?
    First and foremost, find out how you can stay in contact! The school may have a phone number or email address listed, but your child’s teacher may prefer one to the other – or even meeting face to face.
  2. What sort of challenges has my child dealt with this term, and how have they coped?
    No matter how bright your child is, something in school will provide them a challenge – possibly even something social instead of something academic – and they may not have told you about it. Their teacher can keep you in the loop!
  3. Is there anything I can do to help?
    Primary school teachers are extremely busy, and quite often this question will be answered with something small you can do to make their lives easier like buying certain stationery yourself!
  4. Is there anything else I should know?
    A useful last questions to ask. With only 10 or 15 minutes to cover so many things, sometimes important bits of information can still slip through the cracks. This is a great way to jog both your memories!

Ultimately, Parents’ Evening is meant to be a chance for you and your child’s teacher(s) to openly and honestly discuss how your child is progressing, and what you can all do to help them continue to improve. You both want to help your child, and working together is the best way to do that!

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