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Parental responsibility for the children they choose to have

4 Jan

(a)       Children don’t have parents…….

When my partner and I were on the cusp of having our first child over three decades ago, at the get-together we had with my parents, I told them in as sensitive a way as possible, “Mum and Dad, when the child comes along, we will be putting the child first in all that we do, giving her/him priority and showering the kid with all our love – although, we hope, it won’t be indulgent.   This will mean, mum and dad, that we will not be able to give you the kind of attention we are doing right now.   I will (as also my other half) continue to love and care for you.”

I had to get home the message to them diplomatically that parents have children, not the other way around.  Children don’t have a choice about appearing on this planet.  Parents make that possible and parents owe everything to them in relation to tough love.  This is not to say, being Jewish, that I was not going to abide by the fifth of the Ten Commandments – Honour thy father and thy mother. 

The reason for this exchange with my mother and father was because we came from India and were of Jewish heritage where it is custom and practice that parents rear their children so that when the youngsters are adults and the parents are aged, they (the children) can look after and care for them.  In other words, parents have children as an investment for their old age.  However, it is possible for sons and daughters to honour their fathers and mothers while simultaneously putting their children first.

Many in the West have children, willy-nilly.  It’s easily done as they fall in and out of love with free and often unprotected sex.   And when children arrive, they become others’/society’s responsibility.   Schools and academies are important segments of that society.

When children fail, it is the schools’ (and academies’) fault.   When they succeed, many parents many parents are inclined to take the credit.

At the other end of the uncaring spectrum, is the inordinate and crazy pressures helicopter parents place on their children to flourish because they live through their children.  Their children’s successes are theirs (the parents’ successes).   They cause undue stress and trigger mental ill-health.  Failing is not an option for these young people.

Some schools and academies are lucky to have parents who bring a sense of balance in their attitude towards their children’s growth and development.   We know from good governance that the ingredients of a successful educational approach towards staff members is a combination of support and challenge. It is no different in the interactions between parents and children.  Parental love for children must be unconditional.  However, it must be tough love.   When a daughter scores 70% in a science test, her parents must praise her and follow the praise with the question, “Now, darling, how can we learn from the mistakes you made that caused you to miss out on the 30%.”

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Supreme Court rules against term-time holidays for pupils

18 Apr

Jon Platt, a parent living in the Isle of Wight, lost his long-running battle in the Supreme Court on 6 April 2017 with the Council to take his daughter on a seven-day trip to Disney-land in Florida, USA. He had contested the Council’s £60-fine imposed following her absence.  He had argued that his daughter had had a good attendance record leaving parents such as he free to take their children on term-time holidays.

The High Court had backed his case but referred the matter to the Supreme Court.  The Government fought him in that arena, fearing that if he won it would open the floodgates for other parents/carers to make mayhem of their children’s school attendance.

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Parental Involvement: Key to Children’s Success

29 Aug

I           Exemplars of good parents

Most parents are keen for their children to succeed in life. Two pairs of parents I have been privileged to know are exemplary.  One is from Sri Lanka and the other from the Philippines. Both pairs arrived in London as refugees – their impossible circumstances causing them to leave their countries.

The father of children in one family has two part-time jobs – one in Tescos and the other in a BP garage.   The mother looks after the home and holds down a part-time job.   They have two daughters.   Father works all hours of the day and night.  When I last saw him it was at the BP garage from whether I sometimes buy my newspaper.  It was early in the morning and he had just completed his night shift at Tescos.

I asked him how he was.  He was beaming from one end of his face to the other.   His older daughter had just secure an upper second class honours degree in Bio-Chemistry from the University of Kent and was on the cusp of embarking on a Masters degree.   He proudly showed me on his I-phone pictures of her shaking hands with the Vice Chancellor at the awards ceremony.   The younger daughter was waiting for her GCSE results.  She sat for papers in 11 subjects and was expected to do very well.   He has told his daughters: “I am unable to study for you or help you in your academic work, but what I will do is support you in every other way.”  Both, the parents and the girls have heeded their father’s exhortations and flourished.

The father in the second pair works as a carer for someone with Parkinson’s disease.  His wife does part-time domestic work too.   They have three children – all girls. The eldest has just completed three successful years (out of five) to qualify as a doctor. She begins her practice – training in a hospital – in September 2016.  The middle daughter completed her A Levels, in which she achieved top grades and began her university studies to qualify as a solicitor.   The third, is 10 years old and doing well at school.

The parents have not bemoaned their fates. They have not blamed society for the adversity they have encountered.  They have not claimed social benefit but worked hard.  Most important of all, they have cared and been ambitious for their children – supporting and encouraging them in every way.   They are outstanding models for all of us. Continue reading

Well-heeled parents accused of “affluent neglect”

3 Jan

Public opinion is suffused with commentaries from pundits of how parents from the lower strata of society let down their children big time by not giving them the love, kindness and attention they deserve.   In November 2014, Ms Clarissa Farr, the Headteacher of St Paul’s Girls’ School in West London, one of the most prestigious not only in this country but the world and where fees are £21,000 (circa) annually, told The Times, that many of her charges were falling victims of “affluent neglect”.

While rich parents have come to realise that youngsters would much prefer to be brought up at home than wheeled (or flown) off to boarding school from the age of 4 – they have been overtaken by a disease so elegantly defined by Ms Farr.  Children of the rich and the ultra-rich may not be confined to dormitories; rather they are put in the care of nannies – generally from Eastern Europe or the Orient – receive extra dollops of tutoring after school and coached by sports women and men – but are left bereft of the breakfast and dinner time family conversations because both, their mums and dads, are at work in this country or abroad.  Parenting is, effectively, outsourced.

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How should a governor deal with a parental complaint?

9 Dec

Governors have the responsibility of drawing up a policy for dealing with parental complaints that are not concerned with admissions, exclusions and special educational needs, which are the subjects of separate statutory arrangements.  The policy should be simple, transparent and displayed on the school website.

There is a hierarchy for dealing with grumbles.

  1. School staff and the headteacher handle criticism and concerns informally, in the first instance, when they are not formal complaints.
  2. Formal complaints are made in writing and may be complemented or clarified with oral presentations.
  3. A formal complaint must be investigated and handled as swiftly as possible and the complainant kept fully informed throughout all stages of the investigation, preferably in writing.
  4. Each complainant should receive a formal response in writing once the investigation is complete.
  5. If, in the course of an investigation, the governing body considers that disciplinary action should be taken against a member of staff, disciplinary proceedings must be initiated.

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