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To express my disappointment in my children's headteacher

(54 Posts)
EllenDegenerate Fri 01-Jul-16 20:16:45

My DD who is seven had s class assembly this morning in the school hall. All of the parents of her class were invited as were all of the pupils and teachers in the primary school.
The assembly was lovely, the school is a catholic one and so the message was regarding growing in Gods love and being kind to one another etc.

At the end of the assembly the headteacher thanks DDs class for their efforts and congratulates them on the assembly.
She then proceeds to call four children from year six to the front of the hall to present them with awards for various things.
One of the children called to the front is Ella* the sister of one of my DS's friends. She's known to be quite high spirited and perhaps even naughty on occasion but the only reason that I know this is because her mum has told me. She has never been discussed between other parents, at the school gate etc as far as I'm aware.

The headteacher hands out the awards to the first three children in year six. She then asks Ella to "come and stand here next to me for this rare occurrence" Ella does so and the headteacher places her arm around Ella even though she is visually uncomfortable with this attention.
She carries on; "this award is being presented to Ella due to her efforts to improve her attitude and behaviour recently. She seems to have had a change of personality very conveniently just in time so that we can wave her off to Saint Hilda's*" (local catholic secondary school)
At this my jaw is swinging open. Ella stands, shoulders hunched, blushing, headteacher a arm still around her shoulders.
Unbelievably she carries on "In fact Ella even arrived in school on time to make it to this assembly today!"
At this I glance around, incredulous and note the sniggers from the assembled teaching staff and parents from my own DDs class.

Am I being unreasonable in my response of almost visceral disgust at the headteachers lack of professionalism in making a spectacle of Ella in front of parents, teachers and her schoolmates?

Nobody else seemed to react other than to chuckle along at the 'joke'

Am I being oversensitive? I feel that I would like to express my disappointment to the headteacher directly but having seen her actions I fear for her reaction towards my children if I did so. (Cowardly)

I'm just having trouble getting my head around what I witnessed.

WorraLiberty Fri 01-Jul-16 20:23:16

She sounds like a good laugh and many teachers feel that by the time the kids are aged 11, they can actually take that sort of good natured banter.

However, if Ella can't then her parents should probably have a word with the Head.

But there's no need for you to take offence on her behalf, unless you know for a fact she would have been upset.

Icecappedpinetrees Fri 01-Jul-16 20:23:31


I'm a deputy at a primary.

We've had "spirited" pupils, very spirited, the type that would escape the school grounds and be found at the beach several miles away or throw tables etc.

If these children won an award then I'd deliberately notmake a big deal out of it. They'd be handed the award with warm, genuine praise. The same as any other pupil. The fact that you are treating it as normal will (hopefully) encourage it to be a normal behaviour.

Icecappedpinetrees Fri 01-Jul-16 20:25:06

True Worra, we'd often banter with the older ones....if we had that type of relationship and if they were comfortable with it. In front of loads of other parents? Hmm, not sure. It's hard to tell without being there first hand.

ThePinkOcelot Fri 01-Jul-16 20:27:58

I think the headteacher was way off there. YANBU. If I had been Ella's mum I wouldn't have been impressed - at all!

WorraLiberty Fri 01-Jul-16 20:28:01

You should hear the banter at senior school assemblies grin

It really does depend on the child but I know a few teachers who sometimes feel unable to have a laugh with the kids, not because the kids cant take it, but because the parents cant.

I think "almost visceral disgust" is an indication of why some parents avoid it altogether.

EllenDegenerate Fri 01-Jul-16 20:28:02

I just don't consider that bantering with a child who would never dare to 'banter' with you in return is either professional nor kind.
Banter is surely reciprocal in nature.

Yes Icecapped that would have been my thoughts exactly. A genuine but understated expression of pride in her behaviour would have been great.

MollyTwo Fri 01-Jul-16 20:28:08

But there's no need for you to take offence on her behalf, unless you know for a fact she would have been upset.


WorraLiberty Fri 01-Jul-16 20:28:43

sorry, I meant why some teachers avoid it altogether.

EllenDegenerate Fri 01-Jul-16 20:30:22

She was quite visibly embarrassed/uncomfortable.

I don't know for certain that she was upset.

WorraLiberty Fri 01-Jul-16 20:30:49

How do you know the child would never dare to banter with the headteacher?

Lots and lots of children do in many schools. It's all good natured, healthy, polite interaction.

Not like in my days at school during the 70s, when kids hardly saw teachers as human, let alone people to have a joke with.

witsender Fri 01-Jul-16 20:31:16

Not cool, not cool at all.

EllenDegenerate Fri 01-Jul-16 20:33:20

I don't worra.

I do know that she wouldn't have dared to do so in front of the assembled company.
And that she looked uncomfortable that her peers, parents and teachers were laughing at her.

HostaFireandIce Fri 01-Jul-16 20:35:38

In my experience, 'banter' is a euphemism for bullying.

WorraLiberty Fri 01-Jul-16 20:36:20

Well maybe she was uncomfortable or maybe that's what you read into it.

My kids look uncomfortable every time they're called up to get an award/read a poem/play an instrument.

But that doesn't mean they don't love doing it.

The only people who know are Ella and her parents and only they matter here really.

MistressMerryWeather Fri 01-Jul-16 20:36:25

She was quite visibly embarrassed/uncomfortable.

If that was the case it was hardly banter.

Did she have this sort of 'banter' with the other children?

WorraLiberty Fri 01-Jul-16 20:37:54

Hosta, gosh you must have had some awful experiences then thanks

Banter generally means a good natured exchange of words/having a laugh with someone.

Bullying however, means bullying.

MistressMerryWeather Fri 01-Jul-16 20:38:37

I wouldn't go as far as bullying Hosta but I would agree that banter is often used as an excuse for unkindness.

EllenDegenerate Fri 01-Jul-16 20:39:18

Maybe Worra.

Maybe I should mention the incident to her mum just to check that I am being U and that she wasn't upset?

After all if its just reciprocal banter there's no harm in discussing it neutrally with her mum is there?

handbagandshoes Fri 01-Jul-16 20:44:07

Why does it matter that it is a Catholic school! Does that mean they shouldn't do this and others should?

MistressMerryWeather Fri 01-Jul-16 20:44:38

Surely it's only good-natured if the other person is joining in? Smiling and laughing along.

We can only believe the OP when she says that wasn't happening.

EllenDegenerate Fri 01-Jul-16 20:51:53

I mentioned it being a catholic school in reference to the message of the assembly and how it seemed to me strangely juxtaposed with the headteachers conduct.

PortiaFinis Fri 01-Jul-16 20:55:50

I agree with OP - banter is fine between two people - but when it's in front of an audience it can be humiliating - the child couldn't have bantered back in that situation and it was an implicit criticism.

Personally I think it was unfair and a bit shit.

GnomeDePlume Fri 01-Jul-16 20:59:05

I think the reference to it being a Catholic school was to explain the subject matter of the assembly:

so the message was regarding growing in Gods love and being kind to one another

There is a fare degree of irony that the assembly was about being kind and the Head Teacher fell well short of the lesson even if it was 'banter'. Banter is seldom kind.

acasualobserver Fri 01-Jul-16 20:59:10

"Visceral disgust"? Really, you have lost all sense of proportion.

The regular denigration of teachers and schools on Mumsnet is actually quite disturbing.

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