Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Skools ain't what they used to be

Generally, I like to write stuff on my blog that is light hearted with the occasional something else thrown in for a little variety. It keeps me entertained and hopefully keeps a few others entertained. Then, of course, there are the times I have to write because I am MAD. Like today.


And not the funny mad I mean the mad "If I had a cruise missile it wouldn't be in safe hands" mad.

This is because last night was parents evening. That day of the year when I turn from a mild mannered jovial woman into a raving lunatic ready to spear any passing teacher.

Now Young Sam is 20 now so I would say that for the last 13 years I have been consistently disappointed by the feedback I get at parent's evenings. Last night was no exception.

So first things first. On arrival at school I look through Master Ben's books to see how he is doing - as well as to see if his teachers can be bothered to mark them. How well the teachers mark his books usually dictates how mad I am going to get in the following interview.

The first thing I see is Ben's maths book - and the teacher has marked it. Excellent. So that's a gold star and I'm reasonably happy.  However, as I'm flicking through I notice that for one of the comments his teacher has written..

"Don't forget to use your rula!"

That's "ruler" folks. As in the measuring instrument. I'm not sure what the other "rula" is but I'm pretty darn sure it has no place in my son's maths book.

You know, I think this "rula" incident is worse than the "phamlet" (pamphlet) incident. I mean it's not just poor spelling - I suspect that  "rula" is actually a novelty spelling like "skool".

Do you think novelty spellings are meant to make school more fun? If so, perhaps next time I write to the school I shall write "skool" in the address. I think that will make my letters even more entertaining.

So the interview commences. I say my piece about novelty spellings. And then the teacher tells Mr T and I that Ben's geography and maths homework has been "inconsistent" and  reads out a statement from Ben which basically is akin to "I have been a very bad boy and not done all my geography homework."

I imagine it was done in some Gestapo-like setting under the pain of having his teeth extracted or, even worse, threatened with a skool meal.

So Mr T and I raise our concerns - Why does no one appear to collect the homework? There's plenty of stuff hanging around in his skool bag that's for sure. Why is it never marked? Is it Ben's responsibility to hand it in? What is the punishment if he doesn't? Why hasn't he ever had the punishment then?  And so on...

So the teacher assures us everything is being done according to procedures. She checks his diary to ensure homework has been set and has been done, follows it up with other teachers if it hasn't and duly signs his homework diary every week. All very diligent and correct.

"Do you have any other concerns Mr and Mrs Turley?"

"Yes," I say looking despondently down at his results. "These results aren't good enough for a bright child."

Cue another talk about how the teachers do all they can, follow procedures etc etc.

Mr T and I are duly humbled. Everything is being done as it should be. Master Ben is just a lazy, lazy boy. A lazy boy who is,  perhaps surprisingly, also a high performance athlete at 11 years old who trains 6 days a week.

I go home and pull out Master Ben's diary ready to chide myself for not being a good enough mother. Again.

I check back through the diary.

Out of a total 19 weeks this skool year his teacher has signed his diary only four times and that includes the first week of term which was only 3 days.

I feel a letter to skool coming on. Because you know what? Our education system is failing our children. And whilst I would certainly not want to tar all teachers with the same brush - it might be a good idea to employ some teachers who are at least smart enough to cover their own failings.


  1. Jane, I will not pretend that I am not a lunatic in a million different ways. But school issues could make me a Lunatic with a capital 'L'.

    The pressure they put on these children is totally out of proportion to their developmental stage and then they abdicate all responsibility by falling back on the famous, and apparently international, "not living up to their potential". HORSESHIT! YOU, skool, are not doing your job!!

    I had four children in school for a total of 26 mind-numbing years. In the beginning I was deferential and intimidated. By year five or so I was a little more forceful. By year ten I was like Dirty Harry. Teachers and administrators were afraid of me. All because I had become an advocate for my child and would not buy their crap.

    I would have loved to home school, but realistically I knew that would mean we would have sat around in our pajamas watching old movies all day. Barring that, you have to turn into a total bitch to get what your child needs.

    Wish I had more encouraging words. Oh, wait, I do: They eventually do grow up. lol

    Love you! xoxo

  2. Believe me Marie, at Master Ben's school I am pretty sure they already think I'm a complete bitch! And like you I am now past the stage of caring what they think - and if I have to shame into action then that's what I'll do. I've tried the "nice" route and it doesn't work.

    Yes, I would home school too - but for the very same reasons! And there is also the very real possibility that I must return to work soon.

    It' so depressing having to keep up this fight - I'm really tired of it too. I just want folks to do their job properly and to have greater expectations for their pupils than mere mediocrity.

    Thanks for your support my friend:) XXX

  3. Even though mine are all out of school now, my sister is going through this exact thing with her ten year old.

    The good thing is that you are intelligent, articulate and more than capable of handling these yahoos. The bad thing is that you have to do it at all. Wanting folks to do their jobs properly - what a concept!! lol If only...

  4. I'm fed up with it all Marie - you are spot on -I don't see why I should have to fight every step of the way - apart from the fact that writing letters, seeing staff etc and making up for the lack of education with my time and money is very time consuming - it is also emotionally very draining.

    Another 7 years and hopefully the boys will be able to fend better for themselves. I will be a bankrupted, knackered old hag but hey at least I will have done my job!!

  5. If only all parents were as proactive as you are, Jane, and supportive of your kids, things might change. There's a culture of low expectation all round which infects many and helps nobody.

  6. You are so right Fran about the culture of low expectations - it drives me utterly mad. Ben excels at sport and works incredibly hard at it in pursuit of excellence - which sadly only emphasizes the difference in the current thinking at his school. The result of this is that I am the parent from hell!

    I wish Ben had a teacher like you - I know he would be in safe hands:)


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