Schools can help us with discipline, parents say

MANY parents do not know how to encourage their children to behave and look to teachers for guidance. Discipline is probably worse than in their day, a focus group survey for the Scottish Consumer Council and the Scottish Parenting Forum has found.

The study, carried out in June, covered low-income groups, ethnic minorities and remote areas.

Parents admit their offspring are difficult to handle but many are critical of overly harsh regimes involving young children. They feel too many children are excluded.

Bullying is a major issue in secondaries, especially for pupils who have just come up from primary. Schools do not handle this well, parents say. Often their only contact with teachers has been when problems arise.

Many parents have poor perceptions of their own time at school and some see their children's experience as even worse. Others acknowledge positive changes such as improved teaching methods, more classroom assistants and playground supervisors, greater use of computers and more encouragement for parents to be involved.

Yet teachers are criticised for failing to recognise the individuality of pupils and their different abilities. "The current focus on academic subjects and pressure to pass exams could have the effect of making some children feel excluded. Some parents were critical of the school for the teachers' attitudes or for not giving sufficient encouragement to their children," the report states.

Parents also dislike a 3pm finish and would like to see more after-school activities. Cost sometimes stopped children taking part in extracurricular activities.

There is little interest among parents in being involved in drafting school policies or being involved in policy at local or national level. They only want to discuss issues that are directly relevant.

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