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Relations with absent parents

I remember studying sociology at teacher-training college, debating the middle-classness of the school structure. Now preparing for an Office for Standards in Education inspection, I am reminded of those thoughts. The criteria for getting a "highly effective" (2) grade for relationships with parents is "the parents' association thrives", and "the school may be heavily over-subscribed".

When I read this I did not know whether to laugh or cry. Does sending reports to prison count? Does arranging for parents to receive drug rehabilitation matter? What about phoning parents when they have child and family consultation service appointments in the hope they might attend.

On Tuesday morning last week, I saw a foster carer about a little girl who came from such an abusive background it was hard not to get upset. The same afternoon a drug addict mother came who had found out that her daughter was at our school. When she saw the class photos she identified a completely different-looking girl to her daughter and crooned over the photo.

Parents who are on the breadline or who have problems do not have the spare capacity to support the school - rather the school has to find any "spare" capacity to support them.

Essex primary head (name and address supplied)

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