Pathways to Child-friendly Schools
By Fiona Carnie
Human Scale Education pound;7.50, plus pp www.hse.org.uk; tel: 01275 332516
When schools advertise their commitment to "home-school partnership", all too often, even now, the school is actually saying: "This is how we do things, and we expect you to support us." So deeply ingrained is this trait that they don't always know they're doing it. Even a note home about clothing, dinner money, sports day or a trip routinely sets out rules and procedures that are predicated entirely on the school's priorities and systems, and take little account of the complicated and often fraught lives of its families, offering no alternative to limited school office hours for making payments for a trip, for example.
And yet, as Fiona Carnie writes: "A child-friendly school is also parent-friendly, committed to establishing and developing positive working relationships with parents and carers." For example, there's Little London community primary in Leeds, the head of which says: "The friendly school makes arrangements to suit you. The friendly school phones. The friendly school says, 'sure, no problem'."
Carnie does all of us in schools a service by reminding us of what, in the end, we are there for, and giving many examples of how we can live up to the values to which we all aspire.