My worst parent - No respect due to NQT

14th January 2011 at 00:00

It was my first parents' evening and I had been looking forward to it. I had built up good relationships with my pupils and the head of sixth form was pleased with my progress. The evening was going well and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. It was almost time to go home, but a sense of foreboding struck me as soon as I saw my final set of parents approach the table.

One of my A-level students was the son of a senior teacher at the school, who was also the NQT co-ordinator. The boy's mother was a deputy head at another school. The father smiled at me as he approached, sat down and moved his chair back. The mother didn't smile and moved her chair closer. I reached out to shake their hands (she declined) and greeted them pleasantly.

She began with: "What is your problem with my son?" Well, I thought to myself, he comes in with a sneer, argues and keeps his headphones on while I teach. He knows I am an NQT and has made it clear that he thinks my lessons are a waste of time.

Instead, I tried to explain that I was having difficulty engaging the boy. She then launched into a tirade: what did I know about teaching when I was just an NQT? I tried to interject, but to no avail. It was impossible to reason with her. She got so loud that nearby parents stared, open-mouthed. In the end, I just let her rattle on. The father, my colleague, sat with his arms folded and never uttered a word. When she had said her piece, she jumped to her feet, rubbed her hands together and gave those around her a smug smile.

I naively expected that teachers would show each other respect. Years later, I am still here and confident of my abilities, but I could have walked away after that. Thankfully, I didn't.

The author is a teacher in East Anglia. Send your worst parent stories to

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