Back to School

There have been a lot of articles in the newspapers and in the headlines at the moment regarding schools going back this month. September is my favourite month of the year. I love the turn of the season, the schools start back, the weather changes and I love it.

Seemingly, I am in the minority. Of course most children/teens don’t like the fact they go back to school this month. They like it even less when over the holidays, schools roll out changes to make rules tighter and stricter. One of the biggest changes this year has been to the school uniform. Personally, I love school uniform. I think that between bitchy teenage girls and a love of Primark, school is difficult for a girl when it comes to wearing casual clothes. I suffered it in school; I was asked where my trainers were from and laughed at when they were Primark and not the latest Nikes (Primark is chic now, bitches can shush). I didn’t even have enough clothes to warrant a different outfit every day at school, and teenage girls are the most vicious of girls sometimes, they can tear strips out of your soul with a look!

I liked casual clothes days at school as I felt like that was a treat. When in uniform, we are all the same. You get the usual ‘oh but children should show their individuality if they hope to thrive’ bullshit, but not from me. School is a place of rules and learning and getting on with exams. Yes, it is lovely to be unique and exude personal style and I get that, but schools are there for learning, personal styles do not come first. When I went to secondary school, I had a royal blue uniform. I purposely interviewed at a sixth form where there was a grey skirt/maroon blazer uniform. I did not want to go to a sixth form that advocated casual clothes, because I’d rather people focus on knowing ME and my studies, and not whether my jeans were Giorgio Armani or George at Asda.

Anyway, there have been some headlines picked up from schools that set very strict rules on their uniforms and have warned parents that they would send their child home if they did not adhere to said rules. Sounds simple really; follow the rules and don’t get punished. Apparently not so simple for some!

Schools had sent letters, texts and emails to parents and guardians regarding everything from fabric to length of skirt to appropriate hair colours. Of course, there were children who turned up at school with clingy trousers/brightly coloured hair and short skirts where their dinner was seen easily. They got sent home from school (as per the school rules) as early as the first day.

What got me, and actually made me quite angry, was that the PARENTS were angry with the SCHOOL. They didn’t check their child’s uniform/hair alongside the school policies. They didn’t make sure they were appropriately dressed for school before they left the house in the morning. They would then be the first furious ones picking up the phone to the Daily Mail to report the schools for ‘disrupting precious Lilly’s education’.

This winds me up to no end. The school isn’t at fault here. Schools set rules that they expect to be followed. They do it to make the main focus education and not ‘individuality’ because yes, while teenage years are a period of discovery, school isn’t the place for it.

The schools warn the parents, so how do the parents have the audacity to whinge about it? I get that a shorter skirt or blue hair don’t disrupt the child’s education, I agree with that, but what it does do is show a very blatant disregard and disrespect for authority, and that DOES disrupt learning. We have enough of an issue with kids now being mouthy little shitbags who have no fear of authoritative figures without them flouting responsibility at school as well. The parents should be ensuring the children are dressed correctly pertaining to school rules. If I sent Sophie to school in a proper school uniform and she changed that on the way to school and subsequently got sent home, no way in hell would I be having a go at the school for that, sophie would be the one punished for disobeying the rules. We wear uniforms for work (whether smart clothes or overalls) for a reason. I wouldn’t show up to work with pink hair because it is inappropriate for me to do so.

I hate this culture that puts all the blame onto the doorstep of a school for something like this. If you don’t want to follow the school rules, however silly you may find them, home school your child, it’s as simple as that. You can’t try and teach rules and regulations on one hand then berate a place of learning for doing the same thing!

Stop Blaming Schools

Schools now are inspected on a regular basis and have to hit targets to be able to continue staying within their ‘grade’ by the government and OFSTED. So many schools are now said to be failing at primary level because children are leaving Year 6 without getting good scores in their SATS and 3 R’s.

Let’s look at this shall we? For a start, handwriting is heavily criticised by those who mark the tests that children do before heading to secondary school and a lot of children are being marked down for it. And yet the schools are the first ones in to introduce children to computers and using word programs for their homework. If you don’t allow children to use pens and pencils and only use computers you cannot expect them to have great handwriting.

How times change...
How times change…

There is also uproar from the parents who are first to blast the school for their child’s’ failing grades and pull their children out of school because the children aren’t getting the right marks and therefore are marked into a failing school. Well hang on a cotton pickin’ minute here – why aren’t these parents working with the children at home? People are SO quick to blame the school. Yes I know that children go to school to learn, but what about at home?

Parents cannot one day moan and complain that their poor child is having to do homework at home on top of their school work during the day and then moan because they are failing. Parents need to be reading with kids at home, talking through mental maths on the way to school and reciting spellings. On the way to school when I was growing up my mum and dad used to ask us to recite our times tables or would ask us to spell words as we walked. During school holidays we would sit and do handwriting booklets so we could improve even when we weren’t at school.

All of us passed our SATS with a minimum level four and I feel this was definitely to do with my parents input on our learning outside the 9-3.30pm of primary school. Schools have an awful lot of pressure on them now that they didn’t have when I was at school. For a start maths and literacy have to be done for an hour a day in most primary schools and are taught not just to the curriculum but to the SAT exams that are sat at the end of Year 6. If teachers don’t prep and plan correctly they are disciplined. I cannot stand hearing that teachers only become teachers because they want a long summer holiday. My brother is currently completing a PGCE and spends upward of four hours every night doing lesson plans and marking. With that on top of a day teaching, it isn’t an easy way out of a career. There will be time off in the summer yes but the work does not stop.

Parents should stop blaming the schools for their child failing and pull their fingers out. Start working with your child at home as well as school and you will see a marked improvement.

Jeebus.