Posted on 12 Comments

School Punishments – Are they appropriate?

“Owwwwwww,” I remember one lad of about 12 screaming as he crumpled to the floor after a good old whanging from thunder and lightening, the two pronged leather strap of the maths teacher.

“Aaaggggggh, I’m bleeding.” he yelled next, while showing his hand off in a style that would have pleased Liberace.

The maths teacher smirked while he walked over to the hooks at the side of the class where he hung his prized boy cosh alongside it’s smaller and narrower partner in crime.  Thunder and lightening had come across a boy who’d learned that putting a hair across his palm before being belted resulted in a nice long cut across the hand, and drawing blood was the one thing that teachers weren’t allowed to do when dishing out their punishments.  The maths teacher was unrepentant and the story reached the halls of fame and propelled the boy to a status not ungodlike on school grounds.

Our teachers were allowed to belt us.  A leather belt could have up to four prongs depending on how sadistic the teacher was and how much pain they liked to inflict.  I managed to get the strap only once in my school career and it was when the whole class was lined up and strapped by a wild haired angry woman who nobody would spill the beans to and concerning acid being poured into a sink in science class.  I’ve never forgotten standing and waiting for the belt to make contact with my hand.  I can’t remember it being painful, but I do remember the hate I had for the woman who dished out the unfair punishment on us all.

Thunder and lightening had nothing on my mothers day though.  She vividly remembers a boy who was taken out of class for talking and caned.  He received a birch whip across his derriere several times and that child never spoke out of turn in class again.

We were ruled by violence.  It worked.  Apart from one or two boys who pushed the boundaries, none of us would consider breaking the rules if we were in the class of a teacher known for bringing down a heavy force of pain.

I wouldn’t want to be a teacher in most senior schools nowadays.  I don’t approve of hitting, but I can also see that teachers have absolutely nothing apart from the respect they can command to control an unruly classroom mob.

I think there are limits though.  I know it’s hard for teachers and I know they find it tough to control some children who don’t want to be there and make it well known.  Saying that, some of the modern day punishments drive me round the bend.

We’ve had lines, we’ve had detentions, we’ve had removal of privileges and we’ve had ongoing letters home for the most silly things.  Honestly, if a teacher can’t get children to stop pinging rubbers in school, what on earth do they hope to get by sending a letter home to the parents?  It’s not as if we’re there and can stop the kids going OTT.

So, in short, if a child is ADHD and struggling in class as they need to let off steam in the morning, it makes absolutely no sense to me at all to keep them cooped up inside with no exercise and lead them to fail for the afternoon session as well.   A game of footie or running track, or running errands would be much preferable to me and most other parents of children who struggle to keep it together.

Eldest had a detention in May.  He’s adamant that he did the detention and a teacher is adamant that he did not.  He refused to go for the other four that were set up in place of it and just went for his lunch instead.

We’ve started a new year.  I got a phone call yesterday from his year master saying that the detention still needed to be done.  Raging inside, I told him just to go through with it and get it done.  I’ve been told that doing it now is the best possible outcome that there could be for this, but I can’t see the point in him doing detention for something that happened months ago and spilling over into a new year.  So much for a fresh start every year.

This child is also on a waiting list for resources for extra support in school as he’s not coping.  He’s been assessed as needing the help, yet he has to wait for money to get it.  So much for the new education director for Aberdeen that I sat 5 feet away from a few months ago and told me in no uncertain terms that there was more than enough support for all the children in Aberdeen that needed it.  If that’s true, why is there a waiting list then?

So, it’s punish a child that shows the signs of not coping by issuing lines and detentions and then when they’re assessed as needing extra support, lets just not give it to them as we don’t have the money but we’ll carry on punishing them for doing things because they need the extra support.  That makes great sense doesn’t it?

Part of me thinks a quick strap was the better option as it was over and done with as soon as something was done, and not this mental torture of dragging things on and on and on.  And coming from someone who doesn’t even believe in smacking, that’s a sad way for me to be thinking.





Posted on 16 Comments

The “Packed Lunch” Debate. Pro-Choice.

I saw and read some of the comments and opinions on packed lunches, and those who are both for and against. I have to say that there is a world of difference between the quality and content of packed lunches from school to school and I’ve heard of  really good ones and some really awful ones.

With the price of a dinner ticket increasing to £2.20 per child a day, it’s not an option every parent can afford.  A friend of mine has 6 children and the costs for her for packed lunches every day would be £66 a week, or £264 a month. Not everyone can afford to pay that out every month when they could fill a lunch box with food from the fridge every day with a little planning.

I am lucky enough that if I wanted to, I could send my kids for a school dinner every day, but the big point is that they don’t always want a school dinner.  Some school dinners are ok and they are happy to eat them, but others they find awful, without taste, and complain about how disgusting they are.

I imagine it’s a bit like an NHS hospital versus a Private one, or actually, even in Aberdeen, the quality of food in the main hospital always seems to be lacking in comparison to the food at an offshoot site.

I know my kids sometimes ask for a packed lunch at Primary and sometimes ask for a school lunch.  It’s very dependent on what is on offer and what they think of how it’s cooked.

  • My kids love fish, but won’t eat the Primary school version which they complain has hardly any fish in it and looks like a sliver of grey backed dingy stuff.  I’ve not seen it so I can’t comment personally.
  • The puddings are “fine,” says my youngest.
  • Working with some children at the school, they said that most of their friends take packed lunches as the school ones are often disgusting.

If a school banned packed lunches, I think they will have overstepped the mark into parenting and choice of food for their children.

Yes, I agree that some parents might put things into school lunches that others don’t agree with, but in a few short years, they’ll head to secondary school and then just eat chips from the nearest bakery or junk food store anyway.

I don’t see the point in meeting nutritional guidelines for food that is served up if the food is poor quality and kids don’t want to eat it.  I really would grudge spending £2.20 a day for my child to eat a piece of bread and a pudding as there wasn’t anything else they wanted on that day.

I’m against school lunches being mandatory and I am for pro-parental choice.

I have no problem with guidelines and help for parents to make better packed lunch choices than some people make, but if I had a child who would only eat rice krispies and simply put their school lunch in the bin, I’d rather they ate rice krispies from a packed lunch than ate nothing at all.   Most parents can make up the difference with an evening meal and headteachers being given the option of helicoptering the parents decisions is just plain wrong.

We don’t live in a nanny state that takes decisions away from the parents in other aspects of school life, so why for food?  Why is food important to tackle, but behaviour left to the parents to cope with?  I know which one I’d rather the school took responsibility for.  Blaming all poor behaviour on diet is just plain wrong.

If our local school made school lunches mandatory, I’d move my kids to one where it wasn’t.  I have children who don’t wait in line well, and there are some days that my child just knows he can’t cope with losing 10 minutes of his lunch break standing queuing for his dinner, as it takes too much time away from getting outside and running around for exercise.


Posted on 9 Comments

Gifts For Teachers – Do or Don’t?

I’ve missed the Scottish school holiday time, but there’s always those of you in England who will be looking for some gift ideas for your teachers.  I think there are probably a lot of things that we can and can’t give to teachers to just say a little thanks for all they’ve done all year for our kiddies.

I’m not the best one at remembering to buy a gift for a teacher, but there seems to be a huge competition in some places over who can give the biggest, best, or most expensive gift.  We’ve even had requests on occasion for a £5 per child to go to a gift and in principle I don’t have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with the kids who’s parents can’t or won’t add to the kitty being left off the card and the gifts being sent.

When I have contributed to these things in the past, I believed it was for the teacher, not as some kind of mythical brownie point for parents who do contribute, so I pulled out of them a few years ago.  I asked a couple of times for the card to be from all the children, and not just those of us who’d contributed and met a deafeningly silent stony wall.  From that point I just gave up with it.

I think collections do have their place, but only if all the children are treated equally.  I have the kind of children who really struggle to get on with their teachers, so buying them a gift seems terribly uncool to them, but I have bought little trinkets in the past for them to hand over.  Whether they are appreciated or not I have no idea, but it means more to my kids to choose something little.

I got to thinking about teachers gifts due to a couple of things in the post which although weren’t really intended as gifts, they’ve ended up being little gems I can squirrel away for Christmas time.

Sally from asked if I’d like to receive a personalised mug.  I didn’t know what I was getting, and she sent out a lovely one from her teachers gifts range.  I actually would probably not buy a teachers mug, but I am very tempted to buy some of the ones from the other ranges.

Personalised ones stand out for me, and getting one with my twitter name sounds like something I would like a fair bit (xmas pressies if anyone from my family is reading today.)


I wasn’t expecting a box from Border Biscuits, but as I’ve done some review work for them before, they must have decided to send me a box of their new shortbreads to try.   We got strawberry, glace cherry and cranberry & orange.  I’ve only tried the glace cherry so far but I’m sure the kids will devour some quickly enough.

If I’d had these biscuits a few weeks ago, I suspect I’d have wrapped up a packet or two to give to teachers from middler as he seems to get on with his teachers better than my other two.

Fruit Shortcake Border Biscuits

It’s quite a hard call to make.  What on earth do we give to teachers really though?  They can’t take money, and we’re not allowed to take in home baking up here, so there really is only little trinkets or things that the kids have made themselves.

I know that few parents would agree to crediting all children when only some of their parents contributed to a communal gift, so if we’re not money or kudos driven, what else can we give?

I’m not into expensive gifts so it has to be little things that just show some appreciation and nothing more.  I’ve heard of parents spending £20 on a present which I think is ridiculous, so for me, it’s all about the thought and not the price.


Our mug and shortcake biscuits were given free of charge.  I was not obliged to write about them, and all opinions are my own. Mclaggan Smith Mugs is a Scottish based, family run company established in 1974. All mugs are manufactured to a high quality and are screen printed and fired in Scotland.  Contact Sally Simmers at Mclaggan Smith Mugs on or T: 01389 755 655

Teacher Mug 2

Posted on 20 Comments

Groupcall – School Messaging Systems 4 Missing Kids

A couple of weeks ago, a child of mine went to his first morning class and then disappeared.  The school office were notified and nearly two hours later, they sent me a text by Groupcall.  This child is struggling at school and finding it hard to get through some days.

Groupcall is the messaging system used up schools up here in Aberdeen.  There are about 2,500 schools using it in the UK and Europe, so it’s influence is growing.

It was co-funded by Sir Bob Geldof and essentially is for general and emergency communication between a school and its parents and provides solutions for education, public and private sectors.

Our local authority has now allowed Groupcall unlimited for all schools.


I wholly approve of increased communications between home and school, and I have had notifications of both good and bad behaviour in school, as well as new news items and reminders of special days at schools.

Essentially, it’s used to text parents snippets of news about the school, their children and any other communications parents want to send home.

The idea is to improve parental engagement and lower costs, but there really does need to be more local authority input into HOW these messaging systems are used.

It’s a good thing used properly, but it should NEVER take the place of the person to person telephone call in some situations in my opinion.

What about when it goes wrong?

  1. What about a school using it as a way to send a message to a parent or guardian that a child is missing?
  2. What about the parents who don’t even get that text, and don’t find out their child was missing for hours until another parent contacts them?
  3. What about the parents who are bombarded with so many texts that they just begin to ignore them?

The arguments

I’ve listened to the arguments of improving parent / school contact, but I don’t believe that if a child is missing, a parent should be told by groupcall text only.

I’ve been told by my local secondary school here in Aberdeen that it is local authority procedure to report a child missing from school by text.

Yes, I know a text suits some people and not others, and strangely, males seem to be happier with the chance of a text than women, but I am one major techy nerd and I think Groupcall alone just doesn’t cut the mustard in notifying parents.

I have also been told that as the kids who were missing from school weren’t usually skivers, that they hadn’t been flagged up as a problem when they went missing.  I’d have thought the opposite should have applied, but that’s just my parenting expectations it seems.

Some people said they’d be happier with a text.  Well whatddya know, your kid is missing for hours, but don’t worry, it can wait until your next tea break.

If a child is missing and it’s not usual behaviour – it’s an EMERGENCY in my opinion.

Shame on the schools devolving their duty of care to kids by delegating it to a text that may or may not arrive.

Posted on 21 Comments

How Long After a Child is Missing Should Schools Contact Parents, and HOW?

Talking about my local authority and education policy in Aberdeen has mostly been focussed on my middle child who is fairly impaired brain wise.  I have had the odd niggle with a teacher at primary school, but it was pretty good for eldest there.

Moving on to secondary at the tender age of 11 – 12, things change dramatically.   He’s not the best, nor the worst behaved at secondary, but apart from a few minutes late sometimes, he’s not been a truanter at all.

Our secondary is a few miles away from the village, so kids are transported there by bus and he is there half an hour before school starts EVERY DAY.

A few days ago, my boy, along with a few others went to registration as normal.

At about 12.30 – 1pm I noticed a TEXT on my phone saying.

“Your child has not shown up to their Period 3 class today.  Please contact the school to inform us of the reason for this absence.  Thank you”

I contact the school to be told he hadn’t shown up for his Period 4 class either.  There were a few other kids also missing, but they wouldn’t tell me who they were.  It’s easier to find a group than one child, but hey ho, we have to follow the rules.

He had effectively been missing since 10.55 – almost 2 hours – and they didn’t think that was a necessary reason to actually call a parent and speak to someone in person.

That meant by the time I found him after trawling the streets round school, he’d been missing for nearly 3 hours.

He explains the reason for bunking off as not wanting to go to a class as the teacher just screams at a couple of them all the time.  Who knows what the real reason is, and it really doesn’t matter.

I had an appointment with the new Deputy Head yesterday who is adamant that a Groupcall Text is appropriate to notify a parent that a child is missing from school.  It’s local authority policy apparently, and they believe they’ve done their job.  One of the other parents didn’t even know her child had been missing until I phoned her in the evening to see if the kids stories matched.

None of these kids are known for truanting so I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the school admin office to make sure they actually speak to a person if a child is missing from school unexpectedly.   Parents often don’t get to check their phones at all if they’re working or busy.

I actually sat there in the meeting and felt like I had forked tongue disease or over anxious mum stamped on my forehead as they were incredulous that I find it out-of-order for them to not to notify a real live human being when a child is missing.

I didn’t go too much into why I think it’s unacceptable as they weren’t prepared to even consider the fact, but the first few hours when kids go missing is crucial if something dangerous has happened or there has been an accident.  With sub-zero temperatures outside, I find it incredible that they really think it’s not necessary to contact a living breathing person.

I was given excuses like how busy they are, they don’t have the time, kids can leave school any time they like through the emergency doors and so on.  Our local primary school manages to notify parents of important things and they have far fewer admin staff than the secondary, so I’m not buying that kind of excuse.  This was school hours and part of their duty of care as far as I am concerned.

I’m aware that some kids are very grown up and responsible at around 11 – 12, but I wouldn’t say this group are.  So, I guess my question really is, how long after a child is missing should schools contact parents, and how?



Posted on 19 Comments

Will the school soccer dads just get a life.

I was tempted to use much stronger words in the title, but I decided to give them a break.

Yes, I know that they give up their own time, and that without them, our football wouldn’t run, but some of them really need to get a grip on the world outside their own little head space and really consider the possible results of what they do.

The truth of it is that I really, really get irritated and annoyed with the soccer dads.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re not all like that and they’re not really bad, but the perceptions of what they do, by the filtering down through their kids causes chaos.

My eldest had a trouble-free football career at primary, with all the kids getting an even crack at the whip, and the coaches playing fair and giving the kids all equal chances at improving their skills.  It was 4 years of bliss at primary football for him, and I really didn’t appreciate how rare and unusual that is.

It’s only natural that I expected the same kind of treatment for my littlest when he started football a couple of years later.  The school pays nothing towards the football as far as I can tell, so the only influences are the dads who take charge of the whole thing, and the parents that pay.

What happened to littlest’s year, is that they went from two strong teams winning everything, to the “football coach” dads deciding they wanted all the good kids in the “A” team.   Now that would have been ok if they’d left it at that, but they didn’t.  When the Gala’s were on, or the “A” team was short of players, they would take the best players from the “B” team away to be spare subs for the “A” team.  That left the “B” team without the kids they relied on at matches and trained with.

Nobody in the “A” team is going to complain about it as their kids still won everything – only now, there was a 2 tier system.  The “A” team kids calling the “B” team kids names etc etc as the “B” team suddenly began to lose everything.  The “A” team dads were going to do everything in their power to make sure their team won, and they could, as they were in charge.

We lived with it and the kids ran their little socks off trying to keep up with the often professionally trained other teams they had to play.

A year on, the “crappy” system has split P6-7 further into three teams as far as I can see.  Teams “A” and “B” train together and have lots of matches.  Team “C” trains on a different night and has very few matches from what I can see, although that may change.  It’s easy to see they’ve taken team “C” and dumped them, all because they have less experience, and they don’t get the benefit of training with the kids whose parents are determined their kids are going to be future Premier Leaguers.

I can’t even get started on the sidelines dads who scream abuse at their kids for missing a goal or being in the wrong position, but that bubbles away too.

I have no beef about doing it fairly, but there has been little fairness in how this has worked out.   The morality is crap, and I guess that’s why the rest of us parents have to sign a disclaimer that says we’re not allowed to disagree with anything that they decide.

Basically, they tell us to put up or shut up, or our kids are out.

For the sake of our kids, we tend to do what we’re told, but we don’t have to like it.

One child in littlest’s team whose dad has the luxury of a 9-5 job, which means he can coach, has told his darling that if he gets better at football, he’ll get moved up a team, but nobody else will.  Where the final kicks come in, is when the soccer coach dads speak about the other kids in front of their own, and those kids go to school and tell the rest what teams etc they’re in.  They use terms like ‘you’re in the rubbish team for kids that are no use at football.”

Now that really gets the hackles up on the back of my neck.

But I really must remember that I am effectively gagged from saying anything to them, or they might throw my child out.  On the blog, shouting from the rooftops, they can’t gag me here.

I feel so much better for letting that all out.



Posted on 12 Comments

Just how much does “free” state school at point of entry cost?

I thought I’d actually add up the kids mandatory costs at school.

I’m planning keeping a running total in my sidebar to show just how much school costs have been so far.  It may be quite surprising in the end.  My kids are at three different schools.  One is in primary, one in secondary, and one is in a special school.  I’m going to keep the school costs separate, so I know how much each school asked for and got.

It includes parts of the school uniform bought from the school, as there is no option to buy cheaper elsewhere.

It does not include the extras like lunches, shoes, bags, pens and pencils etc, as these are pretty much things kids need wherever they go.

For August, the total is:

Special School

£25 – school jumpers
£5 – snack
£1.50 –  Raffle

Total: £31.50


£67  – jacket 2 jumpers, 2 polo shirts
£6      – school trip

Total : £73


£75   – hoodie, 2 jumpers, 2 polo shirts
£13   –  home economics
£4     – language workbook

Total : £92

Grand Total of money paid to free schools for August:  £196.50


Posted on 16 Comments

School Lunches – “Healthy” versus “Unhealthy”

With grinning faces, the kids love it if there’s pizza, or burgers and chips on the school menu.  Granted, the days of lumpy custard have hopefully spent their last ever days gracing the plates of our growing future generation, but for my kids, stodge is what they want from a school dinner in Aberdeen City.

Making faces that would sour milk, they turn their noses up at school dinner fish, as I’m told it tends to be grey with “bits” on it.   Similarly the soft veg and tasteless fruit seem to be pretty low on the agenda of my hungry horaces at feeding time.

Portion sizes are teensy, and on the one day I was able to join the lunch time rabble, I was shocked how little kids were eating of their meals once they tasted them, and made faces at each other.

I really don’t see the point of meeting Governmental Nutritional Guidelines, or claiming to serve a balanced meal if the food looks and tastes like shoe leather.  And what about the 11 year olds getting the same portion sizes as the 4 year olds?  How is that going to keep them alert during afternoon classes, bellies not full enough from their £2 meal?

So, given the “reasonably low” standard of food on offer in many lunch canteens, why oh why do the schools insist on telling kids they shouldn’t be taking cans of fizzy pop, or sweeties in their lunch boxes?

I’m told by the kids that the staff take cans of pop away from children who have taken them to school.  If it happens, it’s thieving of the lowest proportions from kids, and seems to set double standards that rankle.  All it creates is the sweetie mob and the non sweetie mob hierarchy as lots of parents put sweets in lunch boxes, even when they’re asked not to.

The short story is, that as a health promoting school, we’re not supposed to give them any sweeties to school, but the tables are turned when they sanction teachers using sweets to bribe the kids into better behaviour.

Little children’s brains try to absorb the contents of the healthy living world and come home full of facts and figures on how bad some foods are, yet when the same kids go to secondary schools, (or academy, or whatever else schools at 12 + are) they are suddenly faced with canteen style food of epic fast food proportions, and expecting around £5 a day to gorge themselves on whichever food tasty of the day catches their eye.

I’ve been “reliably” informed by an excitedly animated face, that the food in secondary is as good as Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

“That’s good for me mum,” came the  high pitched happy chappie who starts there next Tuesday.   “I need to put on a few pounds,” says the skinny football mad lad.

A response of “Ye’ll get a packed and like it, with a school lunch on special occasions,”  leads to folded arms and a pout worthy of One Direction.

So, after all of this, I have yet to see what the point was of making such a fuss of “healthy” versus “unhealthy” food at primary, if at secondary, they can choose to just get stuffed full of junk and want £5 a day for lunch.  Ok, so senior school moves to a cafeteria style service with healthy choices,  but with many kids, the only choice they will make is the junk, as they often have to eat the healthy stuff at home.

Aside from the fact I am not spending £15 a DAY on kids lunches when they reach secondary, am I the only one who thinks it’s a ridiculous double standard?

Posted on 12 Comments

Don’t speak to me I’m tongue tied at the School PTA

Image: Robert Cochrane /

I don’t know where it came from, but I suspect the remnants of old school Scottish marmerisms come into force whenever I have to deal with teachers.

I keep putting my hand up whenever a group of parents is asked to volunteer by questions like “who would like to join the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) to raise funds for the school.”   You’d think I’d have learned by now, but my rebounding arm hasn’t understood to keep still when faced with a panel of educators.

I try to visualise holding my arm down, and keeping the whole row of fellow parents entertained during enforced voting and mutual appreciation sessions, but my arm shoots up in the air to send me once more into “meeting terror.”

Anticipating the first meeting brings misty tears.  The usual conversations I have with teachers tend to begin with “I apologise for the disruption my son has caused,” so I enter self-consciously when the day actually comes round to take my place at the table of horror.

Keeping eyes fixed to the table, I pretend to shuffle papers wildly so as not to attract any attention from the other obviously completely competent parents who have joined me.  I realise I have committed the cardinal sin of “meeting etiquette,” as they all sit down with their skinny lattes while I sip my full fat cappuccino.

Sweating clammy hands refuse to keep hold of the pen, and it slips between my fingers. I surreptitiously wipe my hands on my jeans, and they come up with a lovely bright tinge of blue.  I try to hide the glowing neon, and realise that skinny neighbour is watching my predicament as she glares suspiciously out of the corner of her eye.

I become conscious of silence at the table, and realise everyone is looking at me.  I rack my brains to try and recall any of the conversation that has gone on, and decide that I need to introduce myself.  Opening my mouth, no words come out.  I eventually bark my name parrot fashion with dry mouth and raspy voice, while my heart beats so loud that you could hear it in New York.  They still glare at me.  I look to skinny neighbour, and smile at her to make it her turn since she glared at me first.

Skinny neighbour has obviously been just as engrossed by my neon hand as I was, and she repeats the same changing name mantra with shrieking, annoyed voice.  Relieved at not looking like the only total pillock in the room, I feel a slight warming to skinny neighbour and give her a smile.

Losing myself in the conversation of the room, I try to focus on what is important.  The Chair decides it is time to split up the work for the rest of the school term and asks for volunteers to attend a specialised work group.

My arm shoots up in the air with a life of its own !!!

I never learn.

Posted on 10 Comments

Talking to the parent(s) or teacher(s) of a “badly” behaved child.

Image: Arvind Balaraman /

Helping us to help ourselves.

I am going to give a bit of a mish mash mix up here I suspect.   A conversation on Twitter last week showed that parents of children who are not disabled find it hard to start-up a conversation with the parents of a child who might have some problems.  Not all disabilities are easily seen, and many are completely hidden, so how do you tell if a badly behaved child is disabled.   The short answer is simply that you don’t.

What you do have to remember is that consistently bad behaviour is a SYMPTOM of SOMETHING going wrong.

The “what” of the something going on could include:

  • hidden disability
  • stress
  • hormones
  • social problems at school
  • difficulty with schoolwork
  • problems at home
  • being the bully, or being bullied
  • no boundaries to follow
  • no good example to follow

I have written about this before, but in a different way.  Lets take it from the angle of the parent of a child who is struggling because of the actions or behaviour of someone else’s child.   If this continues, the reaction from parents is usually to go on high dudgeon and possibly send the offending child, their parents, and their siblings to Coventry for the duration of their natural-born lives.

I am not posting about the rights and wrongs for this one, but more to help the parents of any other children who are possibly losing out at school because the “badly” behaved one gets more attention, or focus, and extra help with schoolwork, or simply disrupts the lessons so that none of the children get the schooling they should have had.

Imaginary Case Study

Lets pretend we have an 8-year-old boy who I will call Z,  He  is causing problems in class by refusing to do work, and screaming when he is asked to do lessons.  Budget cuts have meant that the classroom assistants that used to help in class have  to leave the school as there is no longer any money for individual child support.  The teacher is struggling with 30 pupils and cannot give individual attention to them all.

Z screaming means that other children are not getting the support and learning that they should be receiving.  Z gets frustrated and hits / shouts at other children when he is upset, angry, unsupported and frustrated.

The parents of the other children in class stand outside whispering to each other as Z comes out of school and talk about how badly behaved he is.   They plan to go individually, or together to complain to school about how Z is affecting their children and how their children are suffering.  They talk about it a lot, but never really do much about it unless their child is hit, whereby they will hot foot it to school shouting at the Headteacher about how it is not good enough, and that something has to be done (usually wanting child excluded).

If you really feel that it has gone on too long and you need to do something about it, perhaps consider how you are going to approach it.

Possible Actions

Where on earth do you go when emotions run this high?  Parents will instinctively protect their own, but in the above scenario, NOBODY considers the child who is behaving badly.  Sadly, it seems to be a very common scenario.  Now lets look at possible routes that parents could take to make this situation better.

1 – Soft Approach

  • Approach the parent to see how receptive they are to talking about Z.  Be aware, they may have had complaints or been shouted at in the past, so they may be very suspicious at first.
  • If the parent is willing to talk to you, explain how concerned you are about Z in class, and that you are aware of how much he is struggling.
  • Ask if there is anything you can do to help, ie possibly mention to school about how much you see Z struggling, and you are concerned.

From this approach, you might or might not manage to engage the parents in conversation.  If you do, you may gain a bit of an in-sight into what is going on.   Parents are often struggling to get help for their children, and there are teachers who struggle to comprehend the issues and disabilities can affect behaviour.  Quite often, their answer is to punish the behaviour instead of getting to the root of the problem to make it go away.

If it is not going to work, then you may need to move on to another approach.

2 – Direct Approach

For this approach, you could have tried to talk to the parents and been cold shouldered or shouted at.  Perhaps you are not confident enough to talk to them yourself.

What could you do?

  • Try approaching the school directly, but not with accusations or threats over bad behaviour.
  • Arrange an appointment and explain that you have concerns about Z.
  • Emphasise that the “behaviours” are having an impact on the class, not Z.  Suggest that the whole class needs more help to cope with it.
  • Stay out of discussions which are based on increasing the prejudice about Z and his family.


If your child is in a class with a disruptor, it can be hard for all the children to deal with it.  What I am sure of, is that they certainly will not manage to cope with it themselves.

Expecting classmates to cope is naive and silly, yet that is what our children are being expected to cope with on a regular basis these days.

Many children were taken out of special schools and protected bases on the basis that they would have extra helpers in mainstream settings to allow them to be included.  Sadly, those helpers are now being eroded by budget cuts and the issues of the “badly” behaved children will only increase.

It is in all our best interests to learn how to cope with these children.



Posted on 23 Comments

Sweet Temptation – Who’s Right – Teacher or Me? Help…..

Image: Clare Bloomfield /

We had a situation last week.   I may be reading too much into it, but it really irritated me to the bone.

On the way home from school, elder was very quiet and piped up that he had a letter than I had to sign for him to take back into school.  I didn’t think that much about it at the time and just thought it would be for “yet” another trip for P7’s.

At home, he sheepishly slipped the letter under my nose and I read it with total disgust.  Not in disgust at him I have to say (although I had to show him some displeasure) but in disgust at the contents.

It begins by saying this type of thing:

Dear Mss xxxxx
I am really sorry for stealing sweeties from your desk, and I know it was just too tempting, so please please forgive me and I know you can never ever trust me ever again for lying and nobody likes a thief.   I have to say sorry to the whole class and I hope you can forgive me.
Yada Yada Yada you get the idea.

 Some of you may be shocked that on this occasion, I didn’t give my boy the third degree, or make him bow and scrape to a pretence of guilt in front of me.  Some of you may stop reading right now, make your mind up what kind of person I am, and then you don’t find out my side of the story.

Wind my neck back in for a month and we find a group of “professionals” and I talking about my boy, his future, and his transition to the big school next year.  As part of that discussion, I tell them about my sons sugar addiction and cravings.  Bear in mind that I am not talking about your average pouty child who just likes a sweetie or two.

I have only recently come to terms with the fact that my son is a sugar addict and that it is part of his condition.  I specifically mentioned it at the meeting where his teacher was present as I had only just found out for myself that he was not just an out and out thief from the treat cupboard, but actually has an illness that is a side effect of his condition and compels him to ingest sweet stuff.  He is just lucky as can be that his genes keep him as slender as he is with all the stuff he packs away.

It helps me to understand why we cannot have lots of bags of sweets in the house, or lots of packets of biscuits as if he knows they are there, he will get up during the night and clear the cupboards.  This behaviour has caused many arguments in the family with extended groundings, removal of privileges, promises of treats to leave them alone etc etc etc and NOTHING worked.  I was so in the dark that I thought my boy was just pushing the limits further than is acceptable.

Back to the story.   We have the teacher INFORMED that he is a sugar addict and that it is part of his condition.  Then the teacher leaves a bowl of sweeties on her desk to give to the children.  I can only guess at the reason for the sweeties, but I suspect they are an incentive for good behaviour.

Picture this.  An empty room with no adults around, and a group of boys who probably have little opportunity to make the grade for one of these revered sweeties help themselves to one and congratulate themselves on their cleverness at outwitting the adults.  One of the boys feels guilty, so dobs the rest of them in and says he didn’t pinch any “so I am told by my boy” .  He also tells me that the dobber in got off with it.

At this point, I am fighting the urge not to laugh as in the same situation, if I were a child in their shoes, I suspect that I would have helped myself to one of those sweeties too.  I am also irritated with the teacher for putting such temptation in the way of someone who has a sugar addiction and expecting them not to take one.   I am even more irritated with myself for expecting the teacher to even to remember that he has a sugar addiction.

I will not be carrying on this issue at home though I cannot tell my boy exactly what I think of it all.

They were warned – and my boy had to take the same punishment as the other boys who took a sweetie, but heaven above – why, why, why would you leave a bowl of sweeties on a desk in front of a class of kids.   It is utter madness.

What do you all think?


Posted on 42 Comments

Judgemental Parents – Lets Tone it DOWN a notch….

Image: Naypong /

I am putting this post up as a result of something I saw on twitter yesterday.

This IS my space, and I am not falling out with anyone because of it, but I’d like to set the record straight about some things and hopefully it gets taken in the right vein, as a mainly educational post, although it does have a hint of rant.

I do feel that we can all learn from the things that we read and see, and it makes one person more understanding as a result, then I have done what I need to.

We all need to learn to live with each other, and have a responsibility to try to understand why things might happen, and not just jumping to conclusions.    I don’t want to make this a difficult park to play in, but it does need addressing.

In summary a little girl, about  6 or so was being effectively called names because she did something childish and upset another child. It was a simple enough start, but the reactions were a tad ridiculous.

The parents were blamed, the sibling was mentioned as a possible blame factor, and the girl was seen as a future pariah.    This was someone else’s 6-year-old girl people were talking about – NOT a willfully angst ridden teenager sitting in a jail cell.

I didn’t want to get into the timeline and talk about it, because that might have ended up with me getting a good amount of hate tweets, and I would probably have posted on my soap box.   I did say that I didn’t like it and I did stop reading my timeline for a while so that I didn’t have to see any  more.

We can call our own children what we like, but we shouldn’t jump to such ridiculous conclusions about other people we have never met.

I can tell you a little bit about BEING a parent who is blamed so easily…  And don’t even get me started on people blaming a sibling.   Is there such a word as familyist, or siblingist, because there should be?

I AM one of those parents who gets the blame – often….

I have been called that, pretty much since the day I adopted my boys.    My boys struggle a bit with etiquette, expectations, body language and just plain old sentences that don’t literally mean what they say.  That’s not their fault, or mine, yet I am constantly derided as I “MUST” be one of those parents who swear at their kids, as one of mine swears as much as any Coprolalia Tourette’s sufferer.

I don’t swear – I never have.  How does that make me, or people like me feel, being judged to be the cause of my sons swearing by people who live in their little sheltered bubbles and have never had to deal with neglect, abuse or disability on a daily basis?

My 3 year child once told a woman of at least 25 stone she was “fat”.   He asked her what she ate to get so fat.   She accused me of bringing him up badly as that was obviously what I thought before he said it.   Hmmmmmm.    My ventriloqy act must be getting better.

Instead of blaming the family, could we start looking at daily influences on our children.

The TV programmes with the kids in them, all tantrumming, backchatting, and looking for status.  The older children up to 12 + in the playgrounds, of which, probably more than half of them have unrestricted internet and you tube, and could be playing games like Grand Theft Auto. They really DO pick up on all of that you know.

And we may like to think our little angels don’t know swear words, but if they are in a school playground, believe me they do, they just don’t repeat them in front of you, but they know them.  The problem is that some children are more mature in their actions and abilities at younger ages than others (both boys and girls).  It’s not wrong, it’s the diverse world that we live in – but adults have to accept those influences and guide that, so that children have a chance to grow up as responsible adults.

The Government is even getting in on it – and this idea of making a parent responsible for a child at secondary, or senior school not attending.  Well excuse me for putting a spanner in the works, but how are some teensy little mums going to do it?  You know, those ones who are over shadowed by 6 footer sons who’ve been told that they can do what they like by the telly, friends, leaders, and that they have “rights” to choose how they live.  THEN, in the recklessness of youth, they decide they’re not going to go to school, because what’s the point, there’s no jobs for them anyway.   How are some mums going to get them to school?   Could you drag a 6 footer kicking and screaming to school?

It’s all the same thing, blame the parents as a whole and don’t look at the individual circumstances.

What about the possibility that the girl is having a terrible time, or that she could be under stress, or that she needs support and isn’t getting it?  What about the possibility that she is upset about something and has taken it out on another child that she is comfortable enough with to show it to.

Yes, there are times when it “could” be the parents, but why judge someone as a bad parent when you don’t know if it is true.

My point is that the responders had no idea of any of the background, or the child, and had no way of knowing what caused an incident, and certainly had no reason to blame the parents or the siblings for it.

It was a very sad conversation, and hopefully by reading this, people will think a little more before dismissing a whole family in one fell swoop.

Lets all just imagine ourselves in the shoes of the 6 year olds mum.  One day, that mum could be YOU.

Comments are open – feel free to add one, whatever your point of view.  I have a steel helmet on today.