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Parent drinking alcohol before assisting with school trip

(87 Posts)
Baydreams Mon 11-Mar-19 16:21:08

I would describe the parent of one of DCs classmates as a functioning alcoholic.

I frequently see them post-morning school run sinking 4 tins. Despite this, they never seem particularly inebriated to me.

This morning I saw this parent doing their usual 9.30am routine, and then this afternoon I saw the same parent returning from assisting the class school trip (primary school).

So, my questions are:

1. What would you do?

2. This question is for anyone who works in schools or has knowledge in this area - what action might the school take? Short of breathilising them, it’s a he said / she said situation, so I’m interested to know what the standard course of action would be if I had a conversation with the school.

And 3. Do I need to check my double standards? Eg, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at PTA mums drinking a a handful of glasses of mulled wine at the Christmas fair whilst still running the show. There are other helpers and teachers around so should it be up to them to judge if someone isn’t
up to the job of assisting with the class?

I feel like it’s important that I do mention it to the school (although I’m pretty certain this isn’t the first time a parent has made the school aware), but think I just needed to mull over my thoughts first and ask what others would do.

Hot4Holes Mon 11-Mar-19 16:23:30

I would have thought they’d be able to smell the alcohol on their breath if they’d been drinking?

On the one hand it’s better the school know, on the other it’s none of your business.
Not much help am I

BrokenWing Mon 11-Mar-19 16:26:39

Dont gossip about it (not saying you would), give the school the facts you know from your own personal experience only and leave them to monitor the situation.

RuLu Mon 11-Mar-19 16:29:03

Tell the school. Raise your concerns.

Their judgement is likely to be impaired after a drink therefore they should not be responsible for children. The school needs to know.

CabbageHippy Mon 11-Mar-19 16:29:06

what sort of time is post morning school run? and you say them so is it both parents?

QuirkyQuark Mon 11-Mar-19 16:30:27

They stand in the street sinking tins? In all my years as a parent I've never seen a parent do drop off and then crack open a can confused

RuLu Mon 11-Mar-19 16:33:39

To answer your questions

1. Yes I would.
2. The school as a minimum wouldn't use/invite the parent again. No way they could risk assess it with that information & someone under the influence would no longer be a responsible adult therefore the ration would be compromised. They will certainly keep a log & may well let SS know out of concern for the parents own children.
3. Maybe/probably but many people do/have done that

x2boys Mon 11-Mar-19 16:33:49

Where do you see them.drinking the cans ? Are they driving after drinking? Are they turning up to the kids up drunk? If not I'm not sure what the school.can do ?

greenlynx Mon 11-Mar-19 16:33:55

Did you actually saw this parent drinking alcohol this morning? And then you saw him/her returning from the class trip?
By the way what time was the trip? Is it a long one or a short one?

EmeraldShamrock Mon 11-Mar-19 16:34:31

How do you see them sinking cans? Are they drinking on the street?

Baydreams Mon 11-Mar-19 16:36:57

One parent. Anywhere between 9am and 12pm on school days. Today was straight after morning drop off.

ScabbyHorse Mon 11-Mar-19 16:38:07

Of course you should tell the school. Not just anyone in the office but find the safeguarding lead.

BreevandercampLGJ Mon 11-Mar-19 16:38:27

Drinking in the street before school, I am unashamedly clutching my pearls. grin

x2boys Mon 11-Mar-19 16:38:31

Where though ,are they drinking in public or can you see into their home ?

Chickychoccyegg Mon 11-Mar-19 16:40:01

do they literally stand outside the school drinking 4 tins?

QuirkyQuark Mon 11-Mar-19 16:42:09

Op you're going to have to tell us where they're drinking the tins because unless you have concrete evidence of them doing it isn't it just you speculating?

TheInvestigator Mon 11-Mar-19 16:43:16

How is it that you are seeing them drinking? Is it on the walk home? Are you peering in their windows?
You'd need to be able to explain how you know this... without looking like a stalker.

But if you have seen it then I'd tell the school.

Baydreams Mon 11-Mar-19 16:43:57

Woops bear with me whilst I get used to the replies system - longtime lurker, infrequent poster, here.

@CabbageHippy One parent. Anywhere between 9am and 12pm on school days. Today was straight after morning drop off.

@x2boys No driving involved. I see them drinking on the street in public. Can't see into their house.

@greenlynx yes I did. Short trip, 1.5hrs max. 1.30pm.

KaliforniaDreamz Mon 11-Mar-19 16:44:50

Def tell school - i go on frequent school trips as a helper and often have 6 kids under my care as we walk round a museum or whatever. The idea of someone not being on the ball with a small group of children is not good.
No gossip no judgement but this is safeguarding.

SaucyJack Mon 11-Mar-19 16:44:56

Unless it’s your spouse, I don’t understand how you regularly come to see them drinking a four-pack in the morning.

It’s not as if it’s warm enough for picnics.

Gersin Mon 11-Mar-19 16:44:57

Tell the school. If you’ve spotted it I doubt they will be surprised, they teach the child who has probably let things slip (as kids do). The school then can politely decline any further offeres of help.

Baydreams Mon 11-Mar-19 16:45:51

@quirkyquark No speculation. I see them frequently on my way back from school drop offs, and at the weekend when we are generally out and about. Outside in public spaces.

x2boys Mon 11-Mar-19 16:46:12

In publicshock that does sound worrying why would they not wait until they got home confused

Bumbumtaloo Mon 11-Mar-19 16:48:50

I think you need to speak to the school and let them know what you have witnessed.

I had an issue with some parents at DD’s previous school, they used to drink as soon as they came out of the gates and until they walked back through the gates at pick up time. They were seen all over the place with cans of Strongbow. I’m not going to go further into what happened but SS were involved. I will say the school were aware of the parents drinking.

clairemcnam Mon 11-Mar-19 16:50:06

It depends if the adult was part of the ratio and had responsibility or not.

Rock4please Mon 11-Mar-19 16:50:15

That sounds weird, frankly, are you sure it's an alcoholic drink?

AspasiaLunata Mon 11-Mar-19 16:52:27

Are you sure they aren't cans of energy drink or something? How close do you get to this person? Would you be able to name the type and brand for example?

LikeDolphinsCanSwim Mon 11-Mar-19 16:53:46

Some of the energy drinks are in cans that look a bit like alcoholic drinks

Baydreams Mon 11-Mar-19 16:55:31

@rock4please and @aspasialunata close enough to have a chat and see a pack of Stella.

AutumnCrow Mon 11-Mar-19 16:55:40

I guess the OP must live with them / have lived with them / see through their windows?

x2boys Mon 11-Mar-19 16:55:45

Well that's What I wondered Aspasia some of those energy drink do look like cans of lager still.odd to.drink four of them though!

AutumnCrow Mon 11-Mar-19 16:56:40

So do you SEE them drinking the cans of beer?

Smoggle Mon 11-Mar-19 16:56:55

Some cans of energy drinks are the same size/shape as beer.

If you are sure it's alcohol, go to school tomorrow and make an appointment with the designated safeguarding lead. Tell them only what you know as fact. State your concern that they were then on a school trip.

x2boys Mon 11-Mar-19 16:57:10

An cross post , very odd thing to do though how far is how from school?

clairemcnam Mon 11-Mar-19 16:59:59

Yes energy drinks makes more sense. I have seen alcoholics drink cans of alcohol in the morning in the street, but they stink of alcohol.

Marcipex Mon 11-Mar-19 17:01:21

It can't be that uncommon. I worked in a nursery in a fairly wealthy area and one parent would walk carefully upright as he had the open can (not) concealed in his coat pocket.

AspasiaLunata Mon 11-Mar-19 17:02:59

close enough to have a chat and see a pack of Stella

Were you not tempted to ask wtf are you doing drinking Stella at 9.30am???

Bananasinpyjamas11 Mon 11-Mar-19 17:03:25

Tell the schools safeguarding officer or head. This is definitely your business. Let’s not muck around when it comes to child safety.

anitagreen Mon 11-Mar-19 17:03:34

Its sad but I don't know if telling the school which you should do would do much, if she's drinking that early in the morning they must be aware of it as the smell from last nights booze plus this mornings would surely be overwhelming?
Saying that we had a new headmaster when I was in school who let a new lady work in the playground supervising kids at lunchtime and she was well known to be a crack addict and addicted to spirits, in the end loads of parents got together with some sort of higher person/s and she was dismissed along with the headmaster confused

EmeraldShamrock Mon 11-Mar-19 17:04:38

I am surprised other parents including yourself didn't reported this earlier, well before the school trip, How many DC do they have, are the DC looked after.
I bet if I had a few beers each morning on the street the school would hear.
Strange behaviour but very sad too, yes I'd talk to the school, hopefully they can help this person.

AutumnCrow Mon 11-Mar-19 17:05:00

But seeing somebody's shopping isn't the same as seeing them drinking four cans of beer at 9.30 am 😕

MondayMorningBluesy Mon 11-Mar-19 17:05:02

frequently see them post-morning school run sinking 4 tins. Despite this, they never seem particularly inebriated to me.

If they are a functioning alcoholic they won't will they?

And neither will their judgement necessarily be impaired.

Unless they are driving, I think it's not your call.

Cosmos45 Mon 11-Mar-19 17:06:16

I wanted to say that this is such an odd thing to do, most "functioning" alcoholics are incredibly sneaky and hide as much as they can relating to their drinking. I can imagine them drinking out of a plastic water bottle (the type you take to the gym) etc but to just drink straight out of a tin of Stella in the morning sounds very strange indeed.

Bananasinpyjamas11 Mon 11-Mar-19 17:06:26

Once the school knows they have to do something. Probably review how they vet / recruit parent volunteers. That’s why safeguarding is there. You don’t have to know the best course of action. You just report facts. They then follow up in the best way.

What is not good is keep info to yourself or gosssip.

MyNewtMyFrogMyLittleRedDog Mon 11-Mar-19 17:07:53

I live in one of the poorest towns in the UK and this really is nothing unusual. I have lived here all my life and regularly see the known "faces" going to Asda at the same time every morning. A boy I grew up with, his dad buys a box of crappy perry/pear wine every morning at around 11am. Everyday he makes the same journey at the same time.

You see the same alcoholics around the local shops/off licences at various points through the day. Then those that are parents will make their way to school at kick out time, stop at the shop for sweets and beer. I can think of at least 4-5 parents from my kids primary that were always half cut at school drop off/collection. But looking after peoples kids is very different to getting drunk around your own.

EmmaGrundyForPM Mon 11-Mar-19 17:10:06

So you actually are with them whilst they drink 4 cans? Even for someone who drinks quite quickly that suggests you are regularly with them for over an hour each time, which in turn suggests you have a friendship with them. Can you raise it with them?

greenlynx Mon 11-Mar-19 17:10:56

I would mention this to a head teacher or safeguarding lead. Just plain facts that you saw this parent drinking beer on the day of the trip and that you’re concern. And that it’s not a first time he/she drank in the morning so it’s not a one off. This parent probably had a snooze, cleaned teeth and looked ok for the trip but it’s very worrying attitude.

ApolloandDaphne Mon 11-Mar-19 17:11:27

As a social worker i have worked in many areas where people would congregate outside and drink openly, including parents with young children. Doesn't surprise me at all.

Bananasinpyjamas11 Mon 11-Mar-19 17:12:27

We should be reporting drunk parents at pick up too. I know it feels intrusive, but I’m currently living with a man who was bought up by an alcoholic, and he says everyone knew and no one did a thing about it. Even if it wasn’t a care home, he’d have had someone aware of his situation, a social worker or teacher, who could have given him extra support or even just a place to talk about it.

He does feel let down by adults who knew and turned a blind eye. Now if he sees kids in the same situation he always does something.

Stayawayfromitsmouth Mon 11-Mar-19 17:23:21

I am surprised at all the questioning. Of course there are people who drink on the street and in public.
I would personally raise it with school. I wouldn't want to be the person who turned a blind eye when little Jemima got lost (or worse) on the next school trip because drunk parent was 'supervising'. Or the person who turned a blind eye because drunk parent burned their house down with dc in it. (or worse).
Stella is not exactly a high brow drink is it.

Gingerkittykat Mon 11-Mar-19 17:25:15

I know a man who goes into the co-op every morning at 9.55 am (licensing laws in Scotland means you can't buy booze till 10), buys 4 cans and promptly cracks one open.

He doesn't stagger around or anything, but his judgement would definitely still be impaired. He also still stinks of booze.

Not someone I would want on a school trip.

EstuaryBird Mon 11-Mar-19 17:29:43

I’m Chair of Governors at a Primary and I would want to know. She should not be accompanying children on trips with any alcohol in her system.

If you do not want to speak to the Head who you see regularly then ask to speak to a Parent Governor or the Chair and let them raise it with the .Head on your behalf.

Kezza8 Mon 11-Mar-19 17:29:51

You must watch them for a good while to see them sinking four tins!

Baydreams Mon 11-Mar-19 17:30:36

@MyNewtMyFrogMyLittleRedDog and @apolloanddaphne You are describing a pretty similar situation / location to this scenario.

@autumncrow and @emmagrundyforPM the shopping is just the cans and they are open and being drunk from. Have been doing these school runs many years and long enough to know that the routine is to buy the cans post-school run and drink them outside before going home. I don't know what happens at home, only what I see outside / in public spaces.

QuirkyQuark Mon 11-Mar-19 17:33:46

I must've led a very sheltered life to have never have seen this type of behaviour on the school run and I've had 4 children so I've done a lot of runs.

10IAR Mon 11-Mar-19 17:33:56

They don't seem inebriated because if they are a functioning alcoholic that amount of alcohol will bring them to everyone else's "normal" (ie no shakes, withdrawal etc)

How is the child? Do they seem cared for?

I ask because there's a dad at school who drinks in this way, but has been assessed by SS as the most suitable parent because the mother is addicted to street valium and frequently IS off her face.

If you're concerned I'd speak to school and raise your concerns.

MissConductUS Mon 11-Mar-19 17:35:42

I'm a recovering alcoholic with 24 years of sobriety.

Talk to the school. If they're assisting on school trips they need to know. Alcoholics keep drinking because they're addicted to alcohol, not because they're evil, but when the safety of others is put at risk it stops being a private matter. I'd call the police about a drunk driver too.

TapasForTwo Mon 11-Mar-19 17:35:45

Why is it whenever someone posts something like this everyone piles in interrogating the OP because they don't believe her?

AutumnCrow Mon 11-Mar-19 17:38:26

the shopping is just the cans and they are open and being drunk from. Have been doing these school runs many years and long enough to know that the routine is to buy the cans post-school run and drink them outside before going home

Sorry but that story just has so many holes in it.

GreatDuckCookery6211 Mon 11-Mar-19 17:39:19

Speak to school asap. Have any other parents seen this behaviour?

10IAR Mon 11-Mar-19 17:39:53

Sorry but that story just has so many holes in it

How so? Because it seems perfectly plausible to me, but then I live in an area where it's not unusual.

youarenotkiddingme Mon 11-Mar-19 17:40:57

That parent has obviously been on a school trip before wink

Seriously though I would report your concerns. What school does with those is up to them but I think you have a duty of care to a least report what you think are concerns for safeguarding and well being of students.

x2boys Mon 11-Mar-19 17:43:09

Because it's an odd thing to do Tapas I worked in mental health for years and worked with addicts ,I also live in a deprived area and regularly see people buying cheap cider and lager anytime during the day , but to drink four cans after school drop off before going home ,seems odd a lot of people would try to hide their drinking so either they don't care or they or so depends they cant?

x2boys Mon 11-Mar-19 17:44:12


IncrediblySadToo Mon 11-Mar-19 17:45:49

Functioning alcoholic, who isn’t driving, helping on a school trip for a couple of hours. I don’t think you need to ‘do’ anything.

I don’t drink my h these days and I wouldn’t drink before helping in a school trip, however, I could drink 4 cans of beer and be perfectly able to look after the children well. A functioning alcoholic even more so as they’re used to it.

I’m sure the school won’t allow the parent to help if they think there’s a problem with the parents help

AutumnCrow Mon 11-Mar-19 17:49:13

the story seems odd to me, just saying ...

Parents do school run. Children go into school.

Parents disperse from school.

Parent A leaves school and buys cans in shop and apparently opens and drinks them in street.

Parent B ... Well, they'd have left, wouldn't they? To either go to work, or home, or go about their business. Why would they be in the street at the exact place where they'd be able to be looking into Parent A's bag of open cans of beer?

That's all I'm saying.

And as I said originally, they must be pretty close in that case.

hazell42 Mon 11-Mar-19 17:49:33

I'm not sure what you are going to report him for. Drinking at that time, assuming he was, isn't great for him from a health POV, but you said yourself he didnt appear inebriated and you wouldn't necessarily worry about other parents drinking at a school fete during the day.
Bottom line, he was sober enough to get up and take his kids to school and interested enough to volunteer on a school trip.
I'm sure if there was an issue staff would have spotted it.
He may be hurting himself but I'm not sure what it is you feel you need to butt in for

Baydreams Mon 11-Mar-19 17:50:05

@x2boys I don't know the ins and outs of why they do what they do and not at home, but my guess is it's one of these situations:

1. Hiding it from their other half
2. Can't wait till they get home
3. Is part of their social routine / is lonely / likes to sit and chat to passers by.

@10IAR Don't want to go into too many extra details separate from this scenario, but the child is well cared for. Has another, seemingly sensible and sober, parent at home.

10IAR Mon 11-Mar-19 17:50:44

Or be walking/driving down the same road at the same time?

But then where I used to live parents smoking joints in their pyjamas was the norm at 9am. So maybe we just had different experiences that school was a big part of why we moved

10IAR Mon 11-Mar-19 17:51:30

Baydreams that's a relief, that the child seems ok.

Tensixtysix Mon 11-Mar-19 17:53:27

As long as they are not driving, it's not really anyone else's business.
I'm sure plenty of high flyers go and collect their kids high on drugs and fine wine.
'For the grace of God go I'

WendyCope Mon 11-Mar-19 17:58:30

I was going to sat that Tensixty I often go and pick up DD at 5pm probably smelling of my glass of wine with lunch. I'm fine though.

Four cans of beer at 9am is a bit much though. But if they do not seem drunk and DC are well cared for?

Lunch is BIG where I live, dinner is small and I'm in bed by 10pm grin

I'd say each to their own, except drinking 'on the street' seems odd to me.

Baydreams Mon 11-Mar-19 17:59:02

@autumncrow Honestly, it's not unusual at all to bump into other local parents outside the local parade of shops near the school, or to be doing errands on the high street so be in a position to tell how long they have been sat there and how much they can drink in that time. We live very close by to each other, and of course when I walk by I stop to say hello as we are friendly with each other and have children in the same class.

Not meaning to drip feed, I didn't realise I would need to give so many specific details. Perhaps if I'd initially painted the picture that it's a deprived area where drinking /using drugs in public isn't a rare occurance, there'd be less doubt? I didn't think it was necessary to the situation to explain those details.

WendyCope Mon 11-Mar-19 18:00:01

I also don't drive so can have a drink with lunch, to be clear!

WendyCope Mon 11-Mar-19 18:02:33

OP can you anonmously report your concerns to school?

greenlynx Mon 11-Mar-19 18:12:37

I’m surprised that some PPs still couldn’t believe OP. When you live in the area and use the same route/ go to the same shop every day you notice people doing the same things around you.

Aragog Mon 11-Mar-19 18:12:47

Definitely tell school. I would ask to speak to one of the safeguarding team - the head and/or deputy will most likely be part of that team, or a learning mentor perhaps. Tell them facts, without any prejudice, assumptions of judgemental comments - it will be better for school if it is just straight facts such as dates, times, place, etc.

School will keep such information on file. It helps build a picture.

We have had functioning (and non functioning) alcoholics as school parents. They have never been allowed on school trips, and are supervised/watched on visits into school generally. When they have looked inebriated or smell of alcohol/drugs we have not allowed the child home with them, esp where we believe they may be driving. We have procedures in place as to how to handle this.

If school are aware Im surprised they allowed them on the trip, so definitely worth passing on known information.

AutumnCrow Mon 11-Mar-19 18:14:33

OP, thanks for explaining further. It's what I'd expect the school to ask you tbh, as you're potentially going to be asking the school to exclude this parent from school activities. You have to be sure.

Aragog Mon 11-Mar-19 18:14:36

It depends if the adult was part of the ratio and had responsibility or not.

Not really. Our safeguarding policies would not allow an inebriated adult any where near a school trip, regardless of whether they were part of ratios or not. They'd simply be told no.

kbPOW Mon 11-Mar-19 18:19:17

^ what @Aragog said. Nothing to do with ratios. You cannot be under the influence of alcohol and be on a school trip.

excitedtobehere Mon 11-Mar-19 18:22:47

*As long as they are not driving, it's not really anyone else's business.
I'm sure plenty of high flyers go and collect their kids high on drugs and fine wine.*
hmm Really?? Well that makes all the difference so.

There are children involved. You reckon it's No one else's business if a parent is under the influence while having children in their care.

Aragog Mon 11-Mar-19 18:26:56

I am surprised how many people seem to not thing its an issue for an inebriated parent to be in school/on school trip and potential supervising a group of children!

This is a HUGE safeguarding issue which schools should be taking very seriously.
It's not a case of not being someone else's business. It most definitely should be when that parent is in school and working alongside children. It is the whole school's business if that is happening.
No way would I want a parent, or any adult, working alongside my child at school when that adult had had a drink.

Can you imagine if it was a teacher back in class after a lunch time pint or glass of wine? There'd be uproar! It's no different - this parent is still working alongside children in their school!

PinkSmitterton Mon 11-Mar-19 18:37:52

With any safeguarding issue the default is always to report it

"If you suspect there's a problem, don't think 'what if I'm wrong?' think 'what if I'm right?'"

The school will then decide whether they need to act on it: based on the welfare of the child of that parent and in this case the welfare of other children on the trip.

TapasForTwo Mon 11-Mar-19 18:41:09

It takes a village ......

Baydreams Mon 11-Mar-19 18:48:21

@Aragog Thanks for the advice, I'll find out who the safeguarding contact is at the school

LaBelleSauvage Mon 11-Mar-19 19:23:12

I'm a massive snob so it's mainly the 'tins' and the time of day that bothers me.

I'd be the same as OP re some mulled wine at a fair.

Perhaps worth a mention to the organiser. I wouldn't want my children near a tin. I hope a glass was used at the very least grin

AJPTaylor Mon 11-Mar-19 19:30:40

My dd had a friend with an alcoholic dad. He would walk around drinking a 4 pack of special brew. Literally drank himself to death.
I would tell the school.

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