Behaviour - Parental backlash

16th July 2010 at 01:00
The Problem: I teach Year 6 and some parents come in to tell me not to shout at their children if they forget their PE kit or homework. I never fly off the handle and don't think the kids are scared of me, but this way they avoid responsibility. What should I do?

What you said

"Explain to the parents that part of your job is to prepare children to become independent learners and that establishing a good routine is vital. Emphasise that what they are being asked to do is reasonable and ask the pupil why they think they are having difficulties organising themselves. The parent doesn't control what happens during the school day, you do."


"For the sake of us secondary school teachers, please carry on with what you are doing. We have one particular feeder primary where a number of kids arrive each year with really poor self-discipline and they get the shock of their lives in the first few weeks."


"We had one mother who presented the class teacher with a bill for all the things her son had `lost' during the year (translation: not been bothered to look after)."



The most useful way forward is to draw upon the generic home-school agreement, which should already be in place. This identifies the need for parents and children to work with the school to give children the best education possible. It should include what the school expects from children and parents and what they can expect from school. All parties should sign and review the agreement. There may be specific incidents within the agreement that will need to be negotiated on a case-by-case scenario. Religious or ethical matters may require further discussion.

It is also important that the teacher is supported by the head and understands the line of command, so that they don't have to deal with dissatisfied parents. If necessary, a letter from the school should be available to send home, drawing attention to the unacceptable situation. If a child forgets their PE kit, there should be a simple slip to send home to inform the parents. This is intended to draw attention to the notion that there is a whole-school policy, which the teacher should follow and be able to explain, so it is clear to parents and pupils that the teacher is not acting alone.

Remember that all the stakeholders, which include children, parents, staff, governors and other agencies, may have an involvement in meeting the needs of the individual child. Some children may not be able to remember their kit due to their special needs, so care must be taken that these children are catered for.

Yvonne Lloyd was a primary headteacher for more than 30 years and is now a consultant for The Key, an advice and information service for school leaders. For more advice, go to



- Explain to parents that you have a responsibility to prepare children to become independent learners.

- Use the home-school agreement to reiterate what is expected of both parents and children.

- Send a letter home if necessary to draw attention to the school policy.


- Neglect your duty to encourage the pupils to take responsibility for their actions.

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