Thursday, 19 June 2014

Seriously?

Katie's new favourite word is "Seriously?".  Everything new I explain to her has this response.  She says it in a very grown up, very posh, Sloane Ranger sort of voice which makes it all the more amusing to hear.  I was wondering where she might have learned it from but my reaction to statements made by Michael Gove and the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, this week had me exclaiming the same word and realising where she got it from!

So what was the statement that had me mimicking my daughter?


"Parents should be fined if they miss parents’ evenings, fail to read with their children 
or allow homework to go undone, the chief inspector of schools said".

Seriously?

Or in the infamous words of tennis player John McEnroe .......

"You can not be serious?"

The reports from the BBC and The Times can be read in full but basically Michael Gove has promised tougher sanctions for parents whose children are not "ready to learn" if the Tories are elected again next year.  He also claimed that, when he was a Head Teacher, he would inform people if he thought they were "Bad Parents" and is encouraging Head Teachers to follow in his footsteps.  Thankfully the Deputy General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders felt that, in his opinion, "engaging with parents was always the better option".  Thank heavens for some sense.

There is obviously a bigger picture here.  There are a lot of children who may be failing in school because they don't have sufficient support at home.  However my feeling is that you can't just jump to conclusions about so called bad parents and I certainly don't believe you can tackle the issue with yet more legislation.  I know people who struggle to support their children with their homework due to being poorly educated themselves.  The fear that they feel because they are unable to understand the homework requirements should not be underestimated.  As children get older the portfolio of their learning broadens and parents may not always have the skill set and knowledge to support them across the whole curriculum.  Teaching methods have changed considerably since I was in school.  Number lines in maths are a mystery that I am having to wrap my head around for example.  Whilst I am well educated, I fear it will be a challenge to keep abreast of the curriculum alongside the day to day life of being a parent and running a home plus all the other things we grown ups have to do.

Some parents who work all hours just to put food on the table and a roof over their childrens heads may struggle to find the time to help with homework or attend parents evenings. Obviously there are parents who don't care about the welfare of their children and I could be questioning why there aren't wider agency reviews of those families underway as a matter of course to ascertain what other issues may also be present.

I will note that my parents didn't help me with any homework during my education.  I was expected to organise it all myself.  That was the norm at that time.  The only reason this is being focused on now is because our education system seems to be falling behind that of other countries so the easiest people to blame for that are the parents. I don't really see how that is the solution. I think the constant tinkering with the education system clearly hasn't had the desired effect and our educational approach doesn't generally meet the needs of our children. The one-sized approach has been failing for a long time. 

I also want to comment on this article as an adoptive parent.  Many adoptive parents find the education system non inclusive for their children at the best of times.  I hear reports that teachers are unsupportive of the needs of children with attachment disorders, mostly due to lack of training and also lack of time and resource.  Adoptive parents often find homework a very stressful event.  I know I have to pick my times carefully in order to ensure Katie's co-operation.  When you are already experiencing behavioural difficulties at home, forcing more structured time on a child at home can seriously impact on a potentially delicate parent/child bond. I want to broaden Katie's life experiences with hobbies and trips and feel these are equally as valid and important to building her self-esteem and employability as her education at school is. Having said all that I do support her reading and learning at home and we do attend parents evenings. We don't always read her structured reading books from school however, because Katie finds these uninteresting. Instead we read books from her own library at home and her reading is above average for her age as a result. I mutiny at times and don't write in her white reading book although have reassured her teacher that we are reading at home.

To end my thoughts on this particular news statement I think, in response,  I would like to call for fines for MP's who fiddle their expenses or refuse to turn up for every vote in Parliament.  Maybe they should get their own house in order before focusing on ours! 

Seriously?









4 comments:

  1. I used this word when I saw that Missy had three pieces of homework given on Friday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 3? Oh my that's terrible! I think I'd have something to say about it lol x

      Delete
  2. While the law firmly places the responsibility for ensuring that a child receives an education on the parents, rather than the state (which I assume is what gives rise to Gove's current hobby horse), I do think that the current education system confuses parents with mixed messages - on the one hand making education purely the domain of 'experts' such that parents feel powerless and are often ignored and seen as unwelcome intrusions when they try to contribute over issues such as behaviour, socialisation, management of particular needs etc.. On the other hand, increasing amounts of homework for even the youngest children, set by schools terrified of not reaching SATs targets or whatever, demands parental input in areas that were more traditionally seen as the teacher's domain, and where parents may well feel ill-equipped to contribute. Sadly it is true that there are a minority of families that actively discourage their children from engaging with education, and this does need to be dealt with via a multi-agency approach, which includes the schools being clear on what is expected. But I wonder why, after all these years of tinkering under successive governments, we cannot get our education system fit for purpose. I never had a scrap of homework at my state primary school (except for reading books and a very small amount of 11+ prep) and yet I managed to get a good education including higher ed and post-grad. Why must we burden children and families with all this homework at the expense of (in my opinion) equally valuable extra-curricular activities, hobbies and, dare I say it, free time?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree that it's all very confused. I never had homework until secondary school either and I did fine. I went to Uni as an adult though as I was never expected to go to Uni as a teenager. I think the government is panicking and offering a knee jerk reaction rather than really thinking it all through. There's too much pressure on young people academically I think.

      Delete