Schools ask too much of home

27th October 2006 at 01:00
"Nanny" schools are treating parents like naughty children and taking over family life.

These are the complaints of two secondary school teachers, who are so incensed by "patronising" attitude to families that they are taking to the stage at this weekend's Battle of Ideas festival in London to urge schools to call a halt to hectoring.

Kevin Rooney, head of social science at Queens' school in Hertfordshire, and Mark Taylor, a history teacher from Addey and Stanhope, south London, argue the advent of home-school agreements, lunchbox inspections and a ban on term-time holidays is suffocating family life.

"As a parent, I receive letters telling me how I am expected to help with homework. The language is of support, but also increasingly of sanction.

Why do schools have a right to tell parents what they should and shouldn't be doing with children?" asked Mr Rooney.

"At school, I'm struck by the heightened expectations we have of parents.

It is a form of scapegoating, and comes down to schools outsourcing work.

This won't be a popular view, but I think I speak for a few million people here."

Mr Rooney believes the blame culture is distracting teachers from their real job, and preventing pupils from enjoying extra-curricular activities which benefit them as much as coursework and exams.

Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said: "We hear from parents who face ridiculous demands. It's a question of striking a balance."

Other topics to be debated at the event organised by the Institute of Ideas, include ballet critic Jeffery Taylor on why child protection laws are ruining physical education, and a defence of skills-based training from Monica Deasy of Lifelong Learning UK.

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