23 Feb

From the Principal – Christopher Prance

Morning television was interesting for me earlier this week. I was shocked to hear the results of an Australia wide survey of school principals enquiring into their wellbeing. What was reported was that one of the causes of stress for principals and staff was the “ugly parent syndrome”.

This reminded me of an article written by Rebecca Baker, Social Affairs Reporter for our local Advertiser (dated 22 August 2017), entitled “Face up to truth about ugly parents at schools”.

Rebecca suggested “There can be no job that’s more important than teaching – to inspire and encourage our kids to become the best they can be.” She went on to say “Then why is it that so many of us think it is okay to abuse teachers in the most horrendous and public of ways? Why is it that so many of us expect our children’s teachers to be at our beck and call?” She mentioned in her article the increasing “viciousness and vitriol being sprayed about teachers on social media, including on school based parental group Facebook pages.”

Rebecca suggested that there is little wonder that “so many young people are thumbing their noses at authority and showing a disregard for others”.

Rebecca quoted in her article Linda Slade, a Perth based educator suggesting (as we do here at SPW), that “parents consider teachers as partners in educating their child”. Linda suggested “research shows that parents who work with teachers rather than against them, will see better outcomes for their child socially and academically”. “Build that relationship” she says.

“Research shows that parents who work with teachers rather than against them, will see better outcomes for their child socially and academically.” Linda Slade

Another article I read talks about parents setting the stage. In stage setting parents construct and manage the social environment around their children in a manner that creates the conditions in which children can be successful. The article published in the Principals’ Digest, Volume 23, Number 47 suggests that to set the stage the most effective parents “orchestrate the life space and messages that are exhibited.” This includes:

  1. Providing a secure home and neighbourly environment so that children don’t have to be overly concerned.
  2. Being supportive of the children’s academic progress and the other activities that they wish to be involved in.
  3. Ensuring support comes across as caring about their child’s overall success, not as pressure to achieve.
  4. Conveying the critical importance of a lifelong education.
  5. Showing confidence in their child’s intelligence and their ability to do well at school, hence fostering a positive academic identity and a sense of responsibility for their own learning.
  6. Talking positively in the presence of children about their child’s teacher.

I would suggest that at SPW, we are extremely fortunate to have a culture where, as busy parents, many with demanding careers, we are successful stage setters. We are subtly changing the children’s self-concept, aspirations and future possibilities, and doing that in partnership with teachers in their school community.

I feel blessed to be in a community where there is little evidence of the ugly parent, and I thank you all for this. Our children are the obvious beneficiaries.

Christopher Prance