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'Unpleasant' parents stopping teachers from telling-off pupils

Fear of 'unpleasant repercussions' from parents made teachers reluctant to reprimand pupils at independent school

The head of Sutton Valence School has appealed for parents' support in sanctioning pupils for poor behaviour

Fear of 'unpleasant repercussions' from parents made teachers reluctant to reprimand pupils at independent school

The headmaster of an independent school has written to parents asking them not to challenge teachers who have imposed sanctions on their children for poor behaviour.

Bruce Grindlay, of Sutton Valance School in Kent, said in the letter: “Please can I ask you to not always believe your child’s version of events? It is necessary to remember that we were not present at the time…”

Last term, dealing with parents took up “a disproportionate amount of time and energy from staff who should be spending their non-teaching time preparing lessons and marking", Mr Grindlay wrote.

He added: “It has become an issue for staff and some are preferring not to sanction a child for fear of time-consuming and unpleasant repercussions.”


The school has pupils from nursery through to sixth form and includes a boarding section, said to cost up to £11,000 a term.

Former pupils include England and Great Britain hockey players Ashley Jackson and Susannah Townsend. 

Mr Grindlay has now asked parents to make appointments to see him directly if they have problems rather than contacting individual staff.

Head appeals for parents' support

His letter, which has been retweeted more than 600 times, and received more than 2,000 likes, states: “If truth be told, who has the most at stake: a child who has got something wrong or an adult teacher simply pointing out and dealing with misbehaviour or poor conduct?

“I understand that consistency is the key and staff, as human beings, are not always consistent. However, I am sure there would be greater consistency of approach if they thought you would support their sanctions and decisions in the first instance.”

Parent Toby Payne-Cook tweeted that “the delusion of over-protective parents can hugely stifle the good intentions of a school”.

He added: “Absolutely fantastic letter from the head of the school. Two of my children are fortunate enough to attend. Great letter. Great school. Great leadership. Thank you.”

Teacher and founder of reseachED Tom Bennett, who is behaviour adviser to the Department for Education, tweeted: “Indies can often have more demanding parents because they (at times) can see the school as a service, and it’s staff as servants.”

The school has been contacted for a comment.

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