Far better a pushy parent than one who is disengaged

16th August 2013 at 01:00

Gerard Kelly's editorial "It's the bullies in Barbours we need a law against" (9 August) raised the issue of overly demanding, at times downright unreasonable, parents who take up a considerable amount of school leaders' time and energy. As he observes, private school parents can be particularly, let us say, "assertive".

I taught for 30 years in both state and private schools, and was a private school headteacher for the last 10 of those. During my time in charge it did seem to me that parents were, on the whole, increasingly vocal: both protective of and defensive about their offspring; at times, indeed, openly aggressive when they (or their children) did not get the outcome they hoped for.

However, I have to say that the vast majority of parents with whom I had dealings were supportive, positive and keen to work in partnership with the school for the benefit of the child. And even those who were pushier and more demanding were usually motivated by love for their sons and daughters, which I could understand and fully appreciate. I would rather deal with an overly demanding parent than one who was disengaged and uninterested in their child's education.

Jill Berry, Former headteacher and past president of the Girls' Schools Association.

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