Monday, 9 May 2011

Parent who doesn't give a toss bunks off with kids

I'm told the upper primary SATs start this week. If you are a school-choosing parent in England and Wales, you will know what that means.

The school has been badgering you for months to do the supplementary teaching-at-home every spare minute of the day. And don't forget to put on the overnight audio CD for sleep learning. It can make the crucial difference to your child's grade performance!

What schools don't say, but is writ between every line and implicit in every breath, is the judgement that if you don't comply with the SATs exams, you must be a parent who doesn't care. And what can be worse than that! Off to exile you go, social leper.

Mothers are particularly programmed to feel this pain, pressured to give in to guilt, kicked that little bit harder to enforce the at-home spelling bee, and encouraged to supervise each other at the school gate with sneaky reference to how much better Tinkertop is performing now play is rationed to one quarter-hour every Friday, but only after homework.

Yet the school probably never explains the real intent. How the grades gathered by the kids can feed into the amount of money they have next year, and this is the real economic imperative underlying exams performance.

Suggesting it is hard cash, and not Tinkertop's ability with sums that is actually driving your pain with the SATs is the sort of socially unforgivable brutal honesty which has got me where I am today. Unemployable in school and totally committed to actual learning.

Well, no news there, then.

Better to say that I take the kids to the RSPB Fowlmere nature reserve. While the cuckoo calls, we follow the inviting, wandering trail about the reed beds, over the board walks, through the wetlands and woodlands, while all the time enjoying the early May sunshine.