Parents abuse us through ‘choice’
I am writing regarding “parental choice”. It seems to be a magic phrase thrown around by people – mainly politicians – who have absolutely no idea of the implications this kind of marketisation of education has for teachers like me. I am a head of year in a Birmingham school. I plan my lessons, mark my books and deliver my assemblies like clockwork; I have been observed and never received less than a grade 1. I do my best to ensure the children in my care grow every day socially, emotionally and intellectually to be the best they can be.
In spite of my hard work, I have to suffer the constant wrath of, and abuse from, parents that have been told time and again that they deserve a “choice”. It is an empowerment that I believe is totally misguided and has helped parents to feel they have the right to fight me, abuse me or have me suspended. (The call for suspension stemmed from my giving a child a detention for communicating in an exam.)
It seems that as parents feel they have more and more “choice”, they have a greater sense of power in their child’s education. Instead of that empowerment leading to collaboration and improvement, it leads to the admonishing of trained professionals who care for their children day in, day out. Parents should not feel their child is getting a raw deal every time he or she comes home in a bad mood after not doing their geography homework and receiving a detention. Often, parents become abusive to the teacher and state that if this isn’t changed they will pull their child out of school (they have the choice). Sometimes they do pull their children. The child comes in the next day having got one over the teacher. There shouldn’t be a choice. The one option for every child should be to go to an outstanding local school that caters to the needs of the community it serves. Of course, every school should be held to account, but only to drive improvement and change lives. Only then can all parents be sure that their child is getting the best start they deserve in life.
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