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Waiting At The School Gates – Challenge for All

  Image: federico stevanin /

Now I am not the  most shrinking violet on the planet, nor am I one to go overboard with emphatic sympathies, or over enthusiastic jumping up and down to good news, whether it’s my own, or someone else’s.

I went to see a show at a childrens school yesterday, and it was very very good.   They were all physically or mentally disabled children, and the passion and the effort they and their carers put in to make it such a special show was inspiring.

One of the songs that they sang had the words “wow that’s amazing.”  And they were amazing.  I had a tear in my eye as I left the building at how happy and contented the children all were, and how much they were all supporting each other in what they were doing.  All the way through, children had massive beaming smiles and looked the picture of happiness in what they were doing.  

Parents were chatting to each other, many animated at how well the show was put together.  Yes, there were scenes of forgetting lines, and scenes of sheer panic, but they helped each other out and encouraged one another.

What on earth has this got to do with waiting at the school gates??

Fast forward 4 hours and standing at the gates of a regular primary school, the parents are all standing in their cliques, sometimes gossiping, sometimes rattling off about what annoys them at school, and sometimes just passing the time of day.  What is really obvious is the amount of parents standing alone.  They are not the cliques, and nobody is speaking to them. 

As a rule at the mainstream school, the atmosphere outside and among the parents is dependent on where your social standing is.  Those of the “right” age group, with the “right” level of bright children, or the “right” lifestyle that fits in with the cliques will find their way into like minded or childrened cliques.  

Standing alone are all the parents with children who don’t fit into the “right” mould to fit into any clique.   Their children might not be clever enough, or fast enough, or bright enough, or they may not wear the right clothes.  The parents may be shy, or embarrassed, or scared to approach a bubble group.   In my time, I have been a clique member, and currently I am a stand alone member who has a couple of parents who go out of their way to say hello to me.  

What I am going to challenge everyone to do, whether you are in a clique, or whether you are a stand alone parent, is spend a day at the school gates, either morning or afternoon (or both if you want to ) and go and speak to at least one person who stands alone.   Then come back and tell us all about it through your blog post, and add a linkie or leave a comment with the blog address.

You may be rebuffed, or rebuked, or ignored, but it’s the effort you put in that  might make the day of the person you simply said hello and smiled at.   They may not trust you, but hey, that’s their problem.  Some of you may find a great new friend who is shy and embarrassed.  And some person who is not coping with their lot in life may go home feeling half a percent better because someone spoke to them and gave them a smile, even if it was a scowl that they got in return for it. 

I am not going to “tag” anyone specifically, but I’d love to see any experiences, or feel free to add a feel good school related project from a blog post that you have already written.

9 thoughts on “Waiting At The School Gates – Challenge for All

  1. Hi, this is really interesting. I’ve always been convinced that the cliques are much more about whether the parents have anything in common than having much to do with the kids. Most of the cliques at our primary school seem to consist of mums who have kids in different classes (nearly all of the dad stand on their own – and that’s a whole other story). There are one or two mums who tbh look like they have pnd and I always mean to talk to them and then don’t….. so this is a prod for me to go and talk to those mums (and some of the dads too) and hopefully add something positive to their day. The post made me ponder; so thanks. F

  2. My friend once told me to pretend everyone is already a mate; i got this world class advice when the kids (and me) started a new primary school where we didnt know anyone!

    and it has worked I talk to anyone and everyone and am in no clique – well I dont think I am!

    in saying that i do gravitate to some mums more than others purely because we get along better!

    1. Thats a good idea. Agree some people are easier to talk to than others.

  3. I’m a home educator. No school gates involved at all. And of all the after school groups that my children attend, there’s only the beavers/cubs that don’t seem to friendly, and even there I’m finding ppl to nod and smile with.

  4. Ah, I’m saddened by the comment about ASD rubbing off – surely people don’t really think that? Just complete lack of awareness and ignorance out there. A mum from school in another class sent an email out to all class mums to explain her boy had autism, and I think she did find it helpful on the whole, although you will always find people who just don’t ‘get’ it. I’ve found being relaly open about it all helps me, but know that’s not for everyone.
    Anyhow I totally agree with your post, and think it’s very easy to just fall into the habit of talking to people you know. I do see people standing alone, and at our school it’s often down to a language difference, but you’re right that shouldn’t stop me from making the effort and I will, tomorrow.

  5. I don’t do the school run but when I did I was most definitely the mum standing on her own. I used to see fear in people’s eyes when they saw me, worried that I might invite them round to my autism infected home or worse still, invite their perfect child round to play with my contagious one. Those cliques ripped me of my confidence and I didn’t have much to start with. That school is a church of England which made it even worse in my eyes. Very unchristian-like. It was a new lease of life when Amy started at her middle school but I only did the school run for a couple of months then lost my licence because of the epilepsy. What a boring life it would be if we were all as perfect as those cliques at the gates.

    CJ xx

    1. I have always found the school run daunting. Recently having my special needs child with me to pick up my two others has caused some new challenges again, and once more, i am the stand alone mum that few would say hello to. Yes, we have the problem of lots of people not wanting their children to come to our house, in case ASD rubs off on them somehow. Some people understand, but sadly most don’t.

  6. I think I am often that mum who is on her own, but ttomorrow I will make sure I try and find someone to talk too. I have to say that we dont particularly have little groups ion Maxi’s class, but Mini’s is very different

    1. Good luck tomorrow. It is a hard thing to do to and takes most of us out of our comfort zone.

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