A piece by Sian Griffiths, Education Editor, in today’s Sunday Times. How often in the article can we reasonably replace “parents” with “mothers”, or “single mothers” in particular? All this can be laid squarely at the door of the project to destroy the nuclear family, a project about which the Conservatives are as keen as the Labia party. Emphases ours:
Parents are to blame for many of the problems facing teachers, the chief inspector of schools warns today.
Amanda Spielman said teachers should not have to deal with four-year-olds turning up in nappies, soaring numbers of obese children who have been fed junk food and teenagers who bring knives and drugs to school.
Today the head of Ofsted calls for the introduction of parenting classes.In every single primary school she has visited this year, Spielman reveals the head teacher has told her that at least one child arrived in reception wearing nappies. Today the head of Ofsted calls for the introduction of parenting classes.
She said potty training was “a normal part of parenting in every other country” and it was “startling” that parents were letting their children continue to wear nappies for years.
“It is something that, until very recently, would have been taken as an absolute matter of course here, that any child, unless they have severe special needs, would be toilet trained before they started school.
“It should not be left to schools. Only in the most extreme cases should parents be excused from this most basic of parenting tasks.”
The problem is partly fuelled by middle-class parents who can easily afford expensive “pull-up” disposable nappies that children can comfortably wear until they are five and older.
Speaking before the publication of Ofsted’s annual report on the state of England’s schools on Tuesday, which is expected to show a “gentle rise” in standards, Spielman said it was lazy to suggest that schools can solve the growing problem of rising childhood obesity.
“A quarter of children are entering primary school obese and a third are leaving aged 11 obese. At this age parents have full control over what their children eat — they make them breakfast, make them tea, pack their lunchboxes if they don’t take school meals. It is in parents’ control what the child eats, how often they have treats and the scale of those treats,” she said.
“Yes, schools can and should teach children about the importance of healthy eating; their PE lessons should get them out of breath. But beyond that, schools cannot take over the role of parents.
“The answer to the obesity crisis, particularly among younger children, lies in the home and parents should not abdicate their responsibility here.”
She also called on parents to stop trying to be their children’s best friend and to start teaching youngsters how to grow up properly.
Spielman, who has two children, is calling for parenting classes to be tested across the country. Having to be parents, as well as teachers, was leaving staff feeling “exhausted and burnt out”.
“This shift of responsibility to schools can unintentionally make parents feel as though someone else has to deal with something,” she said.
After nearly two years in the job, Spielman is increasingly relaxed about speaking her mind on subjects — such as neglectful parenting — that many regard as taboo.
Spielman, who left a job in the City after the birth of her first child in 2001, refuses to talk about her own experience of motherhood. “Someone as well-paid as me should not pontificate about my success on that front,” she said.
Does the rise in the number of working parents affect how they are able to raise their children? “Parents have always worked,” she said. “Look at the factory acts — there have been periods in history where parents have had to work much longer hours than they do today.
“We all know that balancing work and family is a challenge for everybody, but nevertheless we have got to make sure that we don’t allow that balancing act to lead us to neglect.”
Spielman is clear, too, that the responsibility for keeping older children safe both online and in the streets, amid rising knife crime, is something that parents need to take on.
“Parents absolutely have a lot of responsibility for what their children are doing out of school, who they’re associating with, how they’re spending their time. And we’ve perhaps got a bit of blurring with all the things that can now happen online, because once upon a time parents could assume that when they were at home they weren’t associating with people the parents didn’t know about. Now in or out of home, children may be doing all sorts of good or undesirable things, so the job of parents has actually got harder. No question about it.”
When Spielman was appointed, many worried she would not be up to the job. A select committee of MPs even suggested she was the wrong choice. Quietly and calmly, this privately educated, well-heeled Cambridge graduate is turning out to be one of the most outspoken of school leaders.
“It’s important to keep the tough stuff discussable. I am not trying to whip up outrage but am really serious about trying to air the difficult things in ways that help to move forward. It’s a really bad place to be, when you can’t talk about things. You’re in a very dangerous place.”
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