Sunday, September 06, 2009


Although we’ve only been back at school at matter of a few days, the holidays already seem an age ago (well, not quite…). Amongst the new measures introduced this term is a rule that holidays within term time will no longer be authorised - unless there are “exceptional” circumstances. My immediate reaction to this move was: “so we’re going to have parents lying to us to cover holiday absence” (a view endorsed by a number of my colleagues). Sure enough, we had one father ringing the school on Thursday to apologise for his wife’s “failure to notify the school earlier”(!), but that their two daughters had both gone down with tonsillitis. Strange that, because classmates had previously informed teachers that they were on holiday in Cornwall! It may seem pretty insignificant, but it stills sets a pretty poor example to children in my book.
There’s another boy in our House who has significant behaviour and attendance problems (he’s transferred to our school because his previous school couldn’t cope). It seems to me that his underlying difficulty arises from poor parenting. His mother is always trying to justify his actions (I’m all for supporting your child, but…) and she is devious, completely unreliable and constantly “lies through her teeth”. As a result, in the home situation, it appears he has no framework for appropriate behaviour whatsoever. At school, we’re trying to establish these disciplinary boundaries, but it’s often an uphill battle. Sadly, with such poor parenting, it’s no wonder that the boy struggles.
I work in a school with a reputation for very good standards of behaviour (admittedly, we don’t have to contend with the issues of many inner-city schools). Whilst I accept that my views may have be coloured by having worked with young people over the past four years or so, there seems to be a growing number of dysfunctional families.
Following the recent crowd disturbances at the West Ham v Millwall football game, I came across this story of one of the pitch invaders carrying a four year-old boy on his shoulders. Another wonderful instance of setting a good example!
Moira pointed out this fascinating post by Mark Easton, the BBC’s Home Editor (I urge you to read it!), following the appalling case in Doncaster last week of two brothers, aged 10 and 12, who admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent after they had lured two other boys (aged 9+11) to a ravine in South Yorkshire (one of the victims had a sink dropped on his head during the attack!).
Talk of intervention even before birth might smack of the Nanny State, but I’m getting to the stage when I think it will have to happen.
Photo: the sign is from the home of the brothers who carried out the attacks in Doncaster.

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