Teacher Says Kids Arrive At School 'Dirty And Unkempt'

Teacher Says Kids Arrive At School 'Dirty And Unkempt'

Few of us would claim to be perfect parents, but how would you feel about being deemed a lazy one? And what if that accusation was levelled at you by your child's school?

That's not far off what happened when a primary school in Somerset sent letters home to parents admonishing the parenting skills of some families whose children attend the school, according to the Mirror.

The letter states that the head teacher has noticed "an increasing number of children who are coming to school in a pretty shocking state" including children who are "dirty, unkempt and not in appropriate school uniform, if in any uniform at all".

It reads:

"Today, being that it is a Monday, quite a few have returned to school in dirty clothes and obviously haven't had a shower in readiness for Monday morning. There are also an increasing number who are not making any attempt to wear black school shoes, in line with school policy. There are also a lot of children who are getting themselves up in the morning and in to school as their parents are still in bed."

The head teacher asserts that this state of affairs is a "pretty poor indictment of the parenting skills of some of our families" in a country where there is "plentiful running water and washing machines, and shops like Tesco" selling school uniforms for a tenner.

I don't disagree with the sentiment expressed in the letter - it's sickening to think of kids being sent to school in such circumstances - but I don't personally think this is an appropriate way to address the issue.

But, as is par for the course when it comes to debating thorny parenting issues, we've almost come to blows in the Playpennies office over this. Half of the team applaud the head teacher for tackling lazy parenting head on with this letter, while half of us think there are better ways to go about addressing the matter.

Imagine being the 10 or 11 year old kid who knows that letter is about him, and knows that everyone in school is probably talking about it too, now. Why draw attention to a child's personal circumstances in this way?

Shaming people into tackling problems rarely - if ever - works, so I highly doubt that letters like this one will magically result in every pupil turning up clean-clothed with shiny shoes next week. If a parent can't manage to send their child to school in a clean state, then chances are they can't seek help for whatever might be causing the breakdown in normal functioning either. I doubt they'll even read the letter. Parents in those circumstances need a school's help - not public condemnation.

The letter also states that the school will "contact parents of children not in uniform including black shoes" going forward and that parents will be asked to take those children home. Which is exactly how I think the issue should have been tackled in the first place.

But what's your view? Do you think the headteacher was right to send this letter home challenging the parenting skills of families whose kids turn up to school looking a state? You can share your opinion over on our Facebook page.


Reply to
  • Cindy

    these parents are lucky they even got a warning. Lots of schools would just report them to child protection.  

    • Iamthemum

      I am not sure it is a head teachers choice if a child comes clean showered or not .  It is a parents choice.  It is judgmental.  All children can get themselves dirty between home and school.  Some children are quite sweaty and even if showered smell. My child has bad breath no matter what so is this HT making a judgement she doesn't clean her teeth and is dirty!