My feed

to access all these features

Join the discussion and meet other Mumsnetters on our free online chat forum.


How would you explain to a teacher that they'd discriminated against your child?

11 replies

tewhau · 25/05/2012 12:31

We're not from round these parts (i.e. not from the UK).

When auditioning for the school play, my DD was asked whether it might be possible for her to speak in a 'normal' accent for the play. She came home and asked me if I could help coach her in a local accent, but as I have the same accent as her I couldn't.

Now, despite the fact that I know she's a confident public speaker (her teachers, including her current one, have commented on it previously), she got a very minor role in the play. It's possible that although being a good public speaker, she can't act (they're different things after all), or that her singing was an issue (quite likely, based on the pain of listening to her sing at home) but after the comment about the accent I'll never know.

Where we come from, no child's accent would ever be an issue for a school play, nor would it be mentioned; schools are all about inclusiveness, and a request such as hers could easily be headline news.

DS was upset about it. I refrained from marching down to the school purple with righteous indignation. I consoled her, and told her it was discrimination, and that I was sorry she now knew what it felt like, and I hoped it wouldn't knock her confidence. I asked her if she wanted me to ask the teachers about it, but being 11, she expressed mortification at the idea, so I didn't.

However, I'm not sure I can let it lie. It's not just about my daughter, it's about any other child who turns up in the teacher's class and gets the same treatment. I think when a good time turns up I will raise it with the teacher, but I'd like some advice on how to approach it. Not being from the UK, I don't know whether English people would think the teacher's request normal and reasonable, or whether you too would think it's out of line?

OP posts:
startail · 25/05/2012 12:46

Personally, I would have a word whether DD likes it or not.

Given your DD is happy to speak in public and I therefore assume is quite comfortable speaking in English, her accent shouldn't come into it.

(If DDs EFL friend feels confident enough to try a speaking part in their school play, I'm absolutely certain her class and teacher will be really supportive).

Thinking about it, I spent my entire school career not speaking in the "Local" accent. I'm a Yorkshire lass brought up in Wales. I can't conceive of any of my teachers telling me to try and sound Welsh.

The teacher is out of order.

tewhau · 25/05/2012 12:55

Yes, English is DD's first language, so no issue there.

OP posts:
NeverendingStoryteller · 26/05/2012 14:53

Reminds me of a story about a friend whose Welsh accent was interpreted as a developmental disorder by her teacher in the USA. This is totally out of order and it shows a lack of respect for your child and for diversity generally. I would have a gentle word.

HereIGo · 26/05/2012 14:58

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LeeCoakley · 26/05/2012 15:03

Hopefully it's a slip of the tongue. 'Normal accent' are definitely the WRONG words to have used there and I think I would probably mention to the teacher that dd was upset by this. Did she mean 'local' because 'local' is important to the play? E.g. Oliver - where all the children are supposed to be cockneys?

AdventuresWithVoles · 26/05/2012 20:31

I presume it's not a very strong accent? I guess I'm thinking that if local parents (I presume the intended audience?) would struggle to understand the accent I could understand discrimination; just as they wouldn't cast someone with a strong speech impediment in lead roles.

talkingnonsense · 26/05/2012 20:36

I would go in gently- in case your daughter has somehow misunderstood- bit if she is correct then the teacher is most definitely in the wrong and I would take it to the head as well.

IndigoBell · 26/05/2012 20:40

From your username I guess you have the same accent I do - and lots of Brits find me very hard to understand Blush

So, while the teacher phrased it very badly - do you think it's possible the audience will struggle to understand her?

SarkyWench · 26/05/2012 20:50

I had a strong foreign accent at school. It was bad enough having the kids take the piss without the teachers joining in.

Not sure how you raise this though.
I think something along the lines of "DD was very upset by your comment that .... And thinks that she won't be able to be given good part because of this. She is very keen to settle in and be involdothan this is upsetting for her. "

You have to raise it as the teacher will prob not give it a second thought otherwise.

MushroomSoup · 29/05/2012 21:08

I gave a boy with a stutter the lead role in a school play. He was a confident -if slow!- speaker and he had never had the chance to be on stage. He shone. Everyone was rooting for him. He got a standing ovation - can you imagine what that did to his self esteem? And what an inspirational message to everyone else?
I'd definitely raise it at school.

Engelsmeisje · 30/05/2012 19:19

I think the teacher has worded his or her request very badly or without thinking. They would probably be mortified when they realise what they've said and how much it has upset your DD.

I would go in softly as I know that a) there are lots and lots of factors involved in casting a school play including acting skills and sometimes singing (which you acknowledge may have been an issue). It sometimes depends on what year group the student is in as well b) students sometimes misinterpret or muddle up comments from teachers c) the roles or play may require a certain accent (I remember my dismal attempt at a French accent at an audition for The Boyfriend when I was at school - needless to say I didn't get the part!)

I do think it's worth speaking to the teacher, just to make clear how tactless they've been.

I wouldn't imagine that this would be an issue in class, as casting a school play is very different.

is your DD in primary or secondary school?

Speaking from my own experience in an international school, I would never use the word "normal" to describe how I would want my students to speak in Drama - there's no such thing as "normal" here and I can imagine how upsetting using that word would be to my students. If casting a school play then fluency, pronunciation and clarity would be important, though as English is your DDs mother tongue and you've said she's a good public speaker, then I can't imagine this would be the issue.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.