The delicate dilemma of dealing with the divorced

28th November 1997 at 00:00
Mike Fielding, principal of the Community College, Chumleigh, is right, schools do need to be better prepared to deal with divorces (Talkback, "Mum, Dad . . . and teacher", TES2, November 14). However, he makes the mistake of automatically siding with the parent who has day-to-day care of the children. He says that "the parent with whom the child lives should be reminded that, under the Children Act 1989, the other parent is entitled to certain kinds of information". Actually, in cases of joint responsibility the "other parent" - this term in itself smacks of prejudice - is entitled to receive exactly the same information as the "parent with care".

Mr Fielding also states that should the "other parent" wish to see the child at school, heshe should be asked by the school to first contact the "parent with care" presumably to seek approval.

Having had an affair, my ex-wife left our home with my two children. She enrolled them in two schools. I had to fight to get equal access to information as the "other parent" because the infant school staff consulted my ex-wife about everything.

Mr Fielding's policy of first consulting the "parent with care" would have compounded my situation. Fortunately, I gained the confidence of the headteacher but it was hard work and even then when my son needed hospital treatment following an accident in school, the school neglected to inform me presumably because I was only the "other parent".

My personal experience has made me very sensitive but also objective when dealing with divorce situations. I am sure Mr Fielding means well but he needs to think again. As a deputy headteacher, I only hope I am now, as he puts it, "better prepared".


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