Diary - My worst parent - From foe to friend

1st January 2010 at 00:00

I always knew that retraining to become a primary school teacher in my thirties would present me with challenges. I had considered some of the issues that my pupils might raise and the fact that I would be starting at the bottom of a new career ladder. What I didn't appreciate was the power of the parents.

Throughout my time as student, one particular parent seemed to be a constant thorn in my side. She challenged decisions I made, homework set and even queried the choices I made about disciplining her son. Most of the time she chose to challenge me in very public settings, meaning that other staff, parents and even children could hear her disapproval.

Where possible, she would seek support from other parents, in what at times could only be described as lynch-mob mentality. The school was supportive and always backed me up. As time went on it transpired that she had treated all students and NQTs in the same manner and it was just something that I needed to learn to deal with.

I was present, with the class teacher, at the final parents' evening for her son in Year 4. Imagine her disapproval when one of the things she was told was that I was to be his new Year 5 teacher.

"It's nothing against you personally, it's just that this class has had a lot of NQTs," she told me. Although I was new to primary teaching, I had been teaching and lecturing and working in the education sector for a number of years. This was my opportunity to set the record straight.

Her attitude towards me changed from that day on. She left the meeting with a wink in my direction and a promise to "spread the word". It has been more than five years since that day; I'm still at the same school and have received nothing but support from her and her friends since.

The writer is a primary school teacher in the North East.

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