My worst parent - Seeing off a barrister

29th May 2009 at 01:00

The first school I taught in was traditional and the head reduced the school rules to the three essentials - haircuts, holidays and homework. Only regulation haircuts were allowed; holidays in term-time were forbidden; and homework had to be in on time.

Anyone late with homework was given half a slip, like a raffle ticket. The other half went to the senior master, and the next day the child, their homework and the homework ticket - signed by the child's parent - had to be present for inspection at 8.30am.

The school's second most serious sanction was a Friday detention and I had pupils beg me to give them a "Friday" rather than a homework ticket that they would have to show their parents.

But not all parents reacted in the same way. One mother was a human rights barrister. She argued her son's case passionately in the letter accompanying his unsigned slip. We were asked to consider his previous record and she presented evidence to show that he had done his homework.

I explained the offence was the failure to hand in the homework, not whether it was done - and referred her to the wording on the slip. After we had exchanged enough letters to fill a file, she gave up. But perhaps I should have been grateful for her time; I wonder how much she would have charged her clients for each prized letter?

The writer is a head of English in the Midlands.

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