I was really interested to read Fielder’s observations on parents and the transition to secondary school. Whilst I very much respect Fielder’s opinions on a variety of subjects, I have to disagree with him on this one.

Fielder speaks as if parents and carers are some kind of a nuisance that needs to be ‘trained’ to let their children grow up. Yes, the transition to secondary school is difficult for all concerned. Actually, there is much evidence that children are considerably less happy when they start secondary school than when they left primary school. There is also evidence that their attainment dives.

Of course, there are many reasons for this – the most obvious are the fact that secondary schools tend to be bigger, children have to find their way around, deal with a lot more adults, often they have to travel further and use public transport, they may have to make new groups of friend.

Yet, with all this, the Fielder seems to think that parents should just let their children get on with it. They should understand that secondary school teachers are very busy (unlike primary teachers, I presume?) and don’t have time to meet them after school.

I wonder if the Fielder has considered the fact that parents are expected to be less involved in their children’s learning may add to the transition problems?

Independence is generally promoted in children of all ages through support. You can’t expect that all children will suddenly ‘grow up’ during the first year of secondary school. Should parents suddenly abdicate all responsibility for their children? Leave them be and they’ll be OK? (Actually, I think many parents actively encourage their children to grow up far too fast, and feel that schools should be glad if there are parents who are concerned enough about their children’s wellbeing and education to want to talk to a teacher about it.) If, indeed, secondary school teachers are too busy to see a parent for five minutes at 3.30pm, then they certainly won’t have time to worry about the wellbeing of every child in their classes/tutor group, so surely parental support is more important than ever?

Personally, I think that a school that involves parents in their children’s learning as much as possible is likely to be more successful than one that would rather that the parents butt out. Would it really be that hard to ask every tutor to allow fifteen minutes after school one day a week for parents to see them about any concerns or worries?

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