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Parents berated in head's letter

89 replies

UnquietDad · 19/11/2008 09:35

DD and DS's head teacher is generally very good, but does have an amusing habit of going off on one at the parents as if they were pupils.

Her latest is to send a snotty letter - personally addressed, but DD tells me "everyone got one" - saying how "disappointed" she is "that, you, as a family, have not returned your SEAL homework for this term", and "I'm sure this is an oversight". A copy of the original "homework" is attached to the note.

Aaaaagh! The reason we didn't do it the first time is that it's rubbish, it adds nothing to their education, and we haven't got time to be piddling about with such a load of shite. It's basically asking us to come up with a "home charter" of rules for our household and submit it to school. Er, no thanks. if we do that kind of thing it's for our own use only.

OP posts:
AMumInScotland · 19/11/2008 10:27

GuyFawkes - I'm not sure that we do have any house rules TBH, nothing that I could point to as a "rule", unless you count a general sort of "being decent human beings" sort of vibe...

Zazette · 19/11/2008 10:29

As a generalisation, I think what you are saying is valid bamboostalks. But this particular letter has really been worded to put people's backs up, don't you think? Many people have bad memories from their own schooldays of being addressed in those patronising 'I am disappointed in you terms', and that's just going to press their buttons (it would mine!).

OTOH, posters who know nothing about SEAL and why it might be important yet feel free to patronise and judge it are revealing themselves to be no better at respecting others and their views than the headteacher in question...

AMumInScotland · 19/11/2008 10:30

bamboostalks - I do think from the wording of the letter that the headteacher is being heavy-handed. You can't tell adults to "do their homework" without coming across as very patronising and insulting, and there's no way that families are going to respond well to that kind of attitude.

guyFAwkesreQuiem · 19/11/2008 10:31

so your kids can do what ever they like with no boundaries???

AMumInScotland · 19/11/2008 10:38

Well, our "kid" is 15, so he applies self-discipline pretty well, but when he was younger yes I did provide boundaries. Maybe I'm mistaking the definition of "house-rules"? I expect him to behave reasonably, and I behave reasonably towards him, and ditto DH. But we have never defined what we mean by that into a set of rules, any more than I would have rules for the way I treat my colleagues at work, it's much more a loose principle of how people should treat each other.

When I think of "house-rules" I think far more of a set of things which have been argued out between the family to ensure "fairness" etc, whether or not they have been written down.

hippipotami · 19/11/2008 10:44

Thanks for explaining SEAL bamboo. The thing is, in a family where the children don't have much parental input (never seen knife and fork for instance) they are not going to sit down and write a family charter are they?
So the 'sound' families make time to grudgingly do theirs (and for them it is a complete waste of time) and those children from neglected backgrounds presumabley don't even show theirs to their parents and if they do it gets ignored anyway, most possibly.
So then the teachers carve time out of their busy timetable for a completely pointless exercise.
And then people wonder why the standard of education is dropping and so many students leave school unable to spell, do basic maths etc.

School should be a place for learnign. Children from neglectful families should receive proper help from trained individuals. Not some half-hearted government attempt to force schools (which are already overstretched in terms of paperwork, targets, objectives) to deal with it.

sparklestickchick · 19/11/2008 10:45

SEAL is used to help children who are generally, but not always, from the most disadvantaged backrounds. Those who have never seen a knife and fork when they arrive in school, who have never had a normal conversation and so cannot express emotions in a normal way. There has been the most ridiculous over reaction on this page to quite an innocuous letter imo.

BUT dont shoot me but having wored in some seriously disadvantaged areas and in social service units arent these families the very type who wont respond to a letter? if they dont use knives and forks etc(probably a very poor example but nevertheless...)then perhaps their literacy and english skills rent up to writing a reply???

hippipotami · 19/11/2008 10:45

sorry, bad spelling...

cory · 19/11/2008 10:53

Zazette puts it well. However well intentioned SEAL may be, this letter is badly worded. Stating this does not amount to a negative attitude towards schools and teachers in general. You must be allowed to criticise an individual schoo, individual headteacher and, still more, individual decision of school or headteacher, without people jumping to the conclusion that you are unsupportive of the educational system in general.

I have spent my life in education and LOVE it. But that does not mean that I am not going to come criticise somebody who gets it wrong- just as I expect my students to criticise me. IMO an inability to take criticism on board shows that you do not care enough about your professional role as a teacher.

Dd's old headteacher (who certainly broke the Discriminination Act in her case and left her without tuition in a key subject for a whole term because of her disability), was an expert in pulling this one: the slightest attempt to criticise him (e.g. for his failure to provide dd with education) was twisted to suggest that we had a negative attitude towards education.

OrmIrian · 19/11/2008 10:54

The only hard and fast house rules we have is to treat others with consideration. The rest tends to follow from that. DH used to work for SS in a home for adults with learning difficulties. They had 'house rules' - they also had a security key pad on the front door and bars on some of the windows.

I think I'd struggle with that hw tbh.

OrmIrian · 19/11/2008 10:55

Same as muminscotland I think

LittleBella · 19/11/2008 11:00


Yes let's reduce all parents and all families to the lowest common denominator becuase there are a minority of feral families out there.

Let's not try and raise expectations, let's lower them.

arcticlemming · 19/11/2008 11:01

What does the acronym "SEAL" stand for? (Banishes bizarre visions of UQD clapping his flippers while balancing a ball on his nose).

MadamePlatypus · 19/11/2008 11:06

Here is site about SEAL Seems mainly focused on class activities and assemblies. Stands for Social and emotional aspects of learning. Seems to be a good thing and very relevant to all children.

Home Charter for submission to school still barmy.

arcticlemming · 19/11/2008 11:09

Thanks MP.

GooseyLoosey · 19/11/2008 11:15

I am not entirely clear how what you have been asked to do sits within SEAL in any event. The website says that "it focuses on five social and emotional aspects of learning: self-awareness, managing feelings, motivation, empathy and social skills". How does a charter of household rules do any of these things?

I would also refuse to do this or as suggested below have rules to the effect that "our household has no rigid rules apart from mutual respect for the people who live in it".

I fully support the school in their provision of eductation for my children and will do whatever I can to support that. I do not require the school to support me in domestic provision for my children and doing so would be intrusive.

choosyfloosy · 19/11/2008 11:22

What is this about knives and forks?

I have to say, this letter would put my back up, as we feel as if we are living at the end of our tethers just at the moment. Having said this, a friend of mine does have a 'family contract' kinda thing up in her kitchen, that she wrote with the input of her children (things we like/things we don't like format), and looking at it I thought, I am actually scared to do this with ds because I worry that he will say 'I don't like Mummy being away so much' 'I don't like it when Daddy is cross with me' 'I don't like it when Mummys breaks and loses my stuff all the time' and all sorts of stuff I feel very bad about and that I don't want to deal with day to day. So that does lead me to think that this exercise could either bring out some nice stuff that I don't think about much (maybe e.g. 'I like having Saturday with Mummy all day') or would actually force us to talk about the stuff I am avoiding. So i can see the point of it, tbh.

And we do have quite a lot of knives and forks in our house tbh.

hippipotami · 19/11/2008 12:15

The knife and fork thing was in response to bamboo saying that children from dysfunctional families (those that have never seen a knife and fork until they start school for instance) are being helped by SEAl.

And I picked up on it not in criticism but because if a child lives in the kind of family where knives and forkes are not used, then that kind of family is not very likely to do a family charter either.

UnquietDad · 19/11/2008 12:30

bamboostalks - yes, that's one of the reasons I find it patronising.

Head is a she, btw.

OP posts:
choosyfloosy · 19/11/2008 12:37

sorry bamboostalks wasn't meaning to purse my lips it just seemed odd

also rather culturally specific by the headteacher IMO

UnquietDad · 19/11/2008 12:40

I'd just like to point out that we could not be more supportive of the school. We reinforce their punishments and praise, we always do the reading (although we have been at the stroppy end of the spectrum about books which haven't been challenging enough for our precious little geniuses), we always get them to practise their spellings and maths for the tests, etc. It's just that we won't do stuff which is, frankly, pointless. Especially when addressed in that kind of way...

OP posts:
EachPeachPearMum · 19/11/2008 12:54

How very dare they?
I don't think a school has the right to demand a family does homework!
You are not pupils, and as you say you are ensuring the pupils in your household are doing their work, and submitting to discipline etc.

Dottoressa · 19/11/2008 13:27

Bamboo - personally, I'd rather tread in dog poo than get this kind of nonsense sent home from school. Fortunately (from my point of view) my children's school doesn't bother with this kind of nonsense!

TooFoggy · 20/11/2008 16:29

I would compose some free spirited rules outlining the lack of rules in our home, emphasising the stifling effect too many rules can have on a child.

Tortington · 20/11/2008 16:34

the school is the new dictator implimenting oodles of govt shit - that you all think is ok becuase it helps ...those others...them...them...polorpeople realise what an apple is.

and you will take it and take it and take it

when will this force fed shit end.

i would send a letter to school saying, how i parent is the business of my family, not yours. should my child actually have a problem with Education, then i would be pleased to hear your concerns. May i add that i think this schools is rather stepping over the line in its duty of care and may i remind you that i am the parent. not the LEA

thank you

you fuckers

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