Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 22 Oct 2009

Parents have been banned from drinking lager at the school gate. What other school gate behaviours should we clamp down

Hillary's Advice

First of all Iíd like to see parents of young children surgically detached from their iPods and mobile phones. Little children need to come out of school feeling that the person who is there to meet them will be happy to see them and ready to listen to them. If you donít believe this, just watch them. Their eyes search for waves and smiles from the minute they spill out of the door. Parents who are electronically sealed off from them are not merely being busy and distracted, they are positively laying down the foundations of low self-esteem and poor future literacy.

Secondly, Iíd like shoot out the tyres of all parents who park on double yellow lines or across narrow pavements in order to drop their children as close to school as possible. I know the temptation, Iíve done it often enough myself, but there are no two ways about it Ė itís dangerous, illegal and selfish Ė and should be stopped.

Thirdly, Iíd like to ban all parents from careless and damaging school gate gossip. Any problem with a teacher should be taken up with that teacher or the head. Any problem with another child should be sorted out with that childís parents. Malicious and often untrue rumours whip around every school gate like eddies in a thunderstorm and cause enormous amounts of upset and distress. Itís really hard, as a parent, to stand apart from this. Gossip is fun. But everyone at the school gate should think twice before opening their mouths and becoming part of the rumour mill.