Par­ents abuse us through ‘choice’

TES (Times Education Supplement) - - FEEDBACK -

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.

Name and ad­dress sup­plied

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