Parent power will not help most needy kids

Providing parents with better opportunities to get involved in their children’s education is probably a good thing, but is unlikely to help those at the bottom. This kind of initiative assumes and requires all parents have bought into the idea that education is the route to self-improvement. Sadly, that’s not the case.

I’m reminded of a not untypical incident from my inner-city London secondary school (now thankfully closed and re-opened as some kind of college). We had quite a trendy music teacher, quite out of keeping with the rest of the school, who made the mistake of attempting a whole class detention. Being scheduled at the end of the day he thought he’d have us and even gave a week’s notice. A friend of mine didn’t bother telling his father who was in the habit of driving him home. Within ten minutes the teacher was being threatened in front of the class by an angry parent. He never regained control of the class.

That anecdote is supported by evidence that four per cent of male teachers and three per cent of female teachers are threatened by parents each week. In reading that statistic, it should be borne in mind this kind of behaviour is mostly likely concentrated in a relatively small number of particularly tough schools.

It is the children of parents like this who are mostly likely to fail.

Children with parents who take an active interest in their education, support schools and understand the system don’t really need any more from the state. At my predominantly middle class school in Wales, almost everyone was expected to go to university and almost everybody did.

Government cannot change subcultures overnight, but it can and should intervene and should concentrate on those without a pushy parent behind them.

Leave a Reply