My worst parent - Sending smoke signals

17th July 2009 at 01:00

One of the best (and worst) things about teaching is its ability to expose you to the human condition in all its splendour and, of course, its horror.

I had recently moved to a new school to join the leadership team. As I was walking through the reception, I was told that the mother of twins in Year 7 urgently needed to speak to someone senior. I took them into the meeting room where the mother proceeded to shout at me that "she wasn't going to have it anymore", especially as she had "gone through it with her son".

After a couple of minutes of her ranting, I explained that it would be helpful if she had explained what the problem was so we could try to sort it out. I feared that we had done something terrible.

You can imagine that I was more than a little surprised when she told me that she had a full packet of cigarettes in her handbag that morning before the girls went to school, but as soon as they had left, she noticed they were gone and she wanted me to find out who had taken them.

After holding back the urge to tell her to go forth and multiply, I spoke to the girls individually. I eventually found out which of the 11-year- olds was stealing her mum's cigarettes and smoking them, got everyone together for a group hug and cry and sent the girls back to lessons.

As it happens, a few smoking breaks became the least of my problems with these girls.

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