As the mother of a first year pupil, I had my first experience of secondary parents’ night last week. From the day the letter came home from school it was clear the days of perching on too-small chairs and hearing kind words about my boy were long gone.


Now, the whole event ran from 4pm until 9pm, so it’s was reasonably important that the child secure teacher interviews within the same neck of the woods, time wise. Otherwise you were likely to spend a very long evening sitting in a gym hall watching time pass – not likely to make for a smiley-faced mother, I’m certain.

Add to this that the children are all 12 or 13. Some kids this age are experts at negotiation and would probably be well equipped for a job at ACAS and others, like mine, struggle to negotiate an extra helping of pudding.

All of this caused much pre-parents’ night anxiety in this household. However, a quick phone call to school later and everything was sorted out. In the end, it ran like clockwork – teacher after teacher ticked off and them all reporting that my son had done very well in his first term.

I was struck by the fact that in three or four of the subjects – English, modern studies, ABC (administration, business and computing ) and maths – the teachers talked about the presentations my son had given.

This is new and welcome. I know it’s a long time since I left school, but I don’t remember ever being called upon to stand up and talk to my peers, apart, perhaps from reading the lesson in assembly one terrifying occasion.

Now, I still struggle with public speaking – I don’t know how to tackle it and I lack confidence. I wonder how much easier it will be for our children who have become used to it in the routine setting of a classroom.

So, in my first report of high school, I’d say that the school is excelling in teaching subjects in a range of different ways that will furnish children, not just with knowledge, but with a range of confident ways of presenting it. However, I’d have to say that in setting baffled first years and their mothers’ negotiation tasks, they could do better.

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