Over here we have a mid-morning magazine show, "This Morning", which is, I admit, pretty good, easy viewing when I'm off work. I tuned in to "This Morning" today to find a pretty controversial article- the fact that more and more parents are sending their children to school without basic skills such as using a knife and fork and toilet training. What's more, these parents believe that it is the role of teachers to toilet train their children. We are not talking children with complex needs here, but regular kids who are losing out as a result of poor parenting.
As a parent I would never have dreamed of sending my child to school before she was potty trained - schools here can take children at the age of three, but legal school age is 5, by which time I would expect a child to be able to do certain things for themselves. Yes, they will need help tying their laces, buttoning up their coat or pulling on a pair of gloves, but sending a child to full time school while they are still in nappies and expecting the teacher to change those nappies numerous times every day is, I believe, not only over and above the call of duty, but also detracts from the education of other children in the class. Do we refuse to take these kids? Can we legally? Should we? If I was a politician or Head of a school, I would ensure that the rules are clear - that children should not be accepted into school unless they are toilet trained - that was how I remember it to be when I was at school, and certainly when my daughter started school. However, as a teacher, I could not refuse any child - we care too much. And there's the rub. The powers that be know that teaching is a vocation, and too often they take advantage of that fact. Where will it all end? The opposing argument ( and I consider it to be a very weak one) is that if parents don't care for their children then what will happen to them if teachers don't? Personally, I believe that this is a case for Social Services and not for teachers. My job is to teach, nurture, care for and encourage independence in the children in my care. I know we care about our kids, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere. I'd love to hear your views.