Schools Improvement Net reader and inner city school department head Janette Baker believes measurable progress in schools can be most readily achieved by starting to focus attention on pupil and parental responsibilities rather than expecting more and more from teachers…
I’m not as experienced in teaching as some but I was a “why” child and I am a parent, and the more I follow the great educational debates, the more I think “why not?” You want measurable progress in school? Then it really is this simple; stop focusing on introducing initiative after initiative and on school accountability and start focusing on pupil and parental responsibilities instead.
These are some of the more general issues that I imagine lots of schools face on a daily basis and I guarantee if you’ve taught at all, you’ll be nodding in agreement before you reach number 11!
1. Parents who do not leave a contact number in school – “Hello, this is Julie. Don’t bother leaving a message cause I don’t listen to em”
2. Parents who are happy to leave their offspring in internal exclusion for days on end without making an appointment to contact the school or then don’t turn up for said appointment
3. Parents who ignore letters of concern and it is obvious that there will be no subsequent improvement in work effort or behaviour
4. Parents who “blame” the school instead of supporting it over issues such as behaviour and/or work
5. Parents who tell their pupils “well, the subject’s not important so don’t worry about it, you don’t have to do any work”
6. Pupils who persistently “forget” to hand in homework/coursework
7. Pupils who are persistently “ill” when assessments are due to be completed in class
8. Pupils who have absolutely no intention whatsoever of doing anything in class
9. Pupils who expect the school to permanently supply them with equipment
10. Pupils who think that school uniform doesn’t apply to them
11. Pupils who lose their books and think it is the school’s responsibility to keep supplying them – plus the “You’ve lost my book Miss, syndrome”
Have you noticed yet that all of the above relate to PARENTS and PUPILS not teachers? So why is it the teacher’s responsibility to do something about it all?
The solution? Put the onus back onto the people who can more easily do something about it rather than continue to expect teachers to constantly waste valuable teaching time chasing these things up.
How? Well, I’ve had a thought…
1. Empower schools and teachers – give schools the power to apply to the courts to stop family tax credits for those parents who persistently and deliberately neglect their child’s education – if they neglect their children, they certainly don’t deserve to be paid for them in my humble opinion!
2. Make parenting skills a compulsory course for parents-to-be – with an emphasis on how to discipline your child effectively to help cut down on low level disruption – if the pupil knows the parent is likely to discipline them at home and will actively support the school, they should be less likely to want to mess around in school
3. Look at introducing some sort of “redoublement” in school for pupils who have no intention of doing any work – this involves making the pupil go back to Year-7 and repeat the whole cycle at KS3 if they do not put any effort into achieving somewhere near their potential. Who wants the embarrassment of being back in Year-7 when everyone else is starting their GCSE courses?
4. Be brave and allow schools to start inconveniencing parents – if their child persistently has no equipment, books or uniform, allow the schools to force the parent to collect the pupil there and then or bring in what they need and if this means having to arrange immediate time off work to do so, so be it! It would only need to happen once or twice for the parent to get the message that they need to start organising their offspring a little better!
5. Make the COMPLETION of homework compulsory for the pupil – we have to set it, I’ve yet to see anywhere where it states they actually have to DO it and make the sanction for not doing it worse than the effort it takes to do it!
6. Allow schools to apply to the courts to fine parents who deliberately or actively encourage pupils to do no work in school or allow them to bunk off assessments regularly.
As an ultimate deterrent, I believe measures such as these would be effective and firmly places the onus back where it should be. If some pupils worked half as hard as teachers and were properly supported by their parents, I firmly believe that most would achieve and even surpass their potential. The pupils have to take the exams not the teachers, so why is everything so skewed towards teachers? Empower your teaching staff; make parents and pupils take responsibility for their own areas and leave the teaching to us!Thoughts on Janette’s ideas? Reply on Twitter, add a comment below or use this form