Soapbox - Little darlings who do no wrong

7th November 2008 at 00:00

My last school trip was a great pleasure, apart from the inevitable vomiting on the coach home. I managed to clear it up using my own (largely unread) newspaper. I learnt a useful lesson: don't buy a broadsheet because the pages are too big.

This year, though, I won't be going. School trips require a huge amount of trust. Teachers trust children to behave responsibly, parents trust teachers to look after their children and the children trust that they will have a good time.

I don't trust some of the children enough to take them away. And I don't trust their parents not to react badly if anything goes wrong.

I've been in teaching for 30 years and I've never had such a bunch of complaining parents.

Shortly after the start of the year, a parent arrived unannounced at the end of the day and launched into a tirade. She didn't like the way I taught spelling. She didn't like her son sitting at the back of the class. She didn't like the fact I'd told her child to be quiet.

Some parents often come in with unjustified complaints as a result of their children being economical with the truth. They don't entertain the possibility that their child might have behaved unacceptably. And so I refuse to take these children away. I just couldn't take the risk if something went wrong.

Incidents will happen even on the best-run trips. It might be that an instructor asks them to sit out an activity because they keep interrupting and distracting the rest of the group. Or a child might not be allowed to continue playing a team game because they were being unpleasant to others. These children will tell their parents that it wasn't their fault. So whose fault will it be? That's right. Mine."

Lucy Adams is a pseudonym.

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