Parents should not interfere;Letter

5th June 1998 at 01:00
As a teacher in a medium-sized primary school, I take exception to Fran Stevens's article "Breaking through the glass doorway", (TES Primary magazine, May 22).

She writes from her perspective as a parent and a governor. She insinuates that the profession is awash with teachers unwilling to work with parents. Her patronising is unwelcome, as is her assumption that all parents will show an active interest in their child's education plan and in parental meetings. Many parents, although maybe wanting "the best for (their) children" don't believe that this means interfering with what goes on in schools.

Ms Stevens talks about overcoming "the prejudices and misconceptions" and uses the predictable "white line" and "glass doorway" metaphors. She then proceeds to make a plea for "good teachers who are committed to working with parents". Ms Stevens obviously is not aware that it is the teacher's commitment to the child that matters.

The suggestions Ms Stevens makes about using baseline assessment and education plans are dangerous. These are introduced as if reporting to parents has never taken place until now!

Teachers need moral support and many fear parental involvement due to bad experiences. Furthermore, parents must recognise that teachers are the trained professionals who are guided by, and appointed by the governors. A governing body needs to be "on the ball" and should take part responsibility if they feel that parents are alienated.

Ms Stevens's "shared vision" between parents and teachers ignores the existence of any school mission statement or ethos. It is undeniable that parents are the primary educators of their children (in principle, at least) but their input is not formally prescribed by a national curriculum. Teachers' input is, however.

Teachers don't believe in telling parents how to educate their children informally at home and the reverse should therefore be true. Communication between parents and teachers is the key to enhancing a child's progress, and this can be seen as a "partnership". I do fear, however, that Ms Stevens sees parents in the wrong light. Not all parents have the time, will or arrogance to pretend that, without their interference, education would be ineffective.

Until teachers under the guidance of governors and management teams, are respected and trusted enough, some parents will always feel that their interference will make us do our job more effectively.

I would give Ms Stevens this message: A "white line" is not a wall, and "glass doorways" serve two purposes to let light in and to protect those inside.

George Cooke, Junior leader, St Werburgh's amp; St Columba's RC primary school, Chester.

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