Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted, has said that teachers have to waste classroom time countering poor parenting and the taint of celebrity culture. They are being forced to act as surrogate families instead of being able to focus on teaching.
Too many children were being exposed to a “self-obsessed” culture that promoted “instant gratification” over old-fashioned virtues such as honesty and hard work, he said. Schools must step into this “vacuum” even if it meant “being unfashionable, counter-cultural and setting good examples where few exist at home”, Sir Michael added.
Sir Michael made his comments while addressing the Association of School and College Leaders annual conference in Birmingham after leaders complained that assemblies had been co-opted as a vehicle to teach children things they should be learning at home, such as manners, conflict management and the basic difference between right and wrong.
“Our youngsters are too often exposed to double standards, where bad behaviour and violence are publicly condemned but endlessly available as entertainment.
“As a result, schools are too often asked to make up for much wider failings within families and communities. Too often, children grow up without the family, cultural and community values they need to thrive.”
The complaints come in the wake of ASCL anger over government reforms and expectations. While some may raise an eyebrow and consider that the ASCL complaints basically boil down to them being irritated at having to do their jobs, there can be little doubt that parents need to help out and do their own jobs with regard to raising their children. If teachers have to take over the parenting role for children from failing parents then it’s impossible to expect them to also be satisfactory at their own teaching role.
Beyond basic child-rearing, parents can help to turn around the decline in educational standards by providing study support and encouragement at home. From proper nutrition, discipline and guidance to helping with maths and providing books for children to read, their role is as crucial as that of teachers. The education crisis, like charity, starts at home.