Schools need to change

Please excuse me as this isn’t the normal kind of post for this blog. But don’t worry, I’m not going to get into a political rant about the state of the education system. Instead it’s more about the attitudes and expectations that schools have of life outside of school.

When I was at school my mum was a ‘stay at home’ mum. She didn’t work and therefore was able to drop us off and pick us up from school while we still wanted that, or was at home when we walked back on our own. In this role she was in the majority – most of the kids in my class had a mum that did the same.

Nowadays this is no longer the majority situation – even in the middle class school that my son goes to I would suggest that a high proportion of the kids don’t have a ‘stay at home’ mum.

Modern families are much more complex than they seemed to be when I was growing up (or at least more obviously and visibly complex). There are single parent families, blended families, step-parents and step-kids and many, many more families where both parents are working. Yet schools seem to still believe that a parent is always available as and when needed.

What started this is a letter that came home with my son asking if he wanted to take part in some cross-country races. He does, he likes running at the moment. But while the letter was a little vague about whether he could attend (don’t get me started on badly written letters from school – that’s a whole other topic), the first event takes place next Tuesday.

So we’re less than a week away and we don’t know whether he will be running – what that means of course is we don’t know whether we’ll need to rearrange our afternoon / evening to accommodate this. Will we need to leave work early? Can we arrange for him to play with friends as we had wanted to? Which evening will he be able to spend time doing his homework?

All of these are important considerations and need a bit of planning – our family is not able to be at the beck and call of school.

I obviously want to support my son if he wants to run in these events, but there’s a chance that by the time we know for certain whether he can – he can’t.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. There are many school related events that I have had to miss because I already had something booked (there’s something happening tonight that I can’t go to). Schools now need to understand that life outside of school is complicated and busy and often to combat those things highly structured. A new school event can’t just be slotted in easily, we need time to plan and to arrange and therefore the school needs to give us more time, or not hold these events.

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