Rules is rules of course but do they have to be enforced by complete and utter fuckwits?

The mother of a terminally-ill boy is fighting against being fined for taking him out of school for what could be his last holiday.

Maxine Ingrouille-Kidd has been threatened with a fine of up to £120 and possible prosecution if she takes her son Curtis out of school during term time.

Doctors have given Curtis, 13, who is a blind quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy, just a few years to live and warned he may only survive until his late teens.

“My son is 14 in October and this may well be his last holiday,” the mother-of-three said.

Crippled JC on a sodding pogo stick I know that common sense isn’t common but is the entirety of the regulatory state run by total and entire morons and fuckwits?

What the hell is anyone doing insisting that this boy be incarcerated in the bosom of the education system in the first place? It’s a waste of his life and our money anyway.

Way back when a childhood friend of mine (by a long way my best friend as well, which probably explains quite a bit about my character now, I tend to regard friendships as fleeting things) died of a brain tumour at 16 or so. At least he was spared someone wittering on about how he should still be working for university as commoon sense did seem to be more common then.

Just rank fucking idiocy on display here.

65 comments on “Rules is rules of course but do they have to be enforced by complete and utter fuckwits?

  1. I agree Tim.

    From speed cameras to the HMRC to out-of-school fines, there seems no flexibility in the rules any more.

    We live in a less human, less fun society as a result with no discernible benefit arising from this.

  2. but is the entirety of the regulatory state run by total and entire morons and fuckwits?

    No.

    They’re all cunts.

  3. The pencil pushers won years ago. The jobsworths reign supreme.

    They started off in the Armed Services and cross bred out into civilisation.

    I was rather stunned to find out the other day that the RAF used eight different types of roundels (the national markings) in World War II. Someone at the Ministry had the heroic job of deciding every few months whether a fashion change was called for. Not exactly Douglas Bader, was it?

  4. I didn’t pay close attention to Michael Gove, so I don’t know what he did to raise the ire of teachers, but one thing he did do was introduce these silly fines for taking children on holiday in term time. For that alone he deserved the chop.

  5. I dunno, perhaps we are reaping what was sowed.

    Every time a State employee makes a poor, largely irrelevant, decision Ministers were held to account and lambasted in the press and in Parliament, so they do something and they only thing they can do is impose more centralisation and regulations and take away the ability of people at the local level to use common sense.

    In this case I’m sure the school is worried that their absentee figures will be reflected badly because we’ve given ever more power to Ofsted and the power of the inspection and press releases, but they only have time to look at and report pure numbers.

    The recent debates on assisted suicide are an extreme case in point. Not long ago a blind eye was turned when a doctor gave a terminally ill patient who was in pain and distressed a higher dose of morphine, knowing it would shorten their life. The patient’s family would even thank the doctor. Now doctors live in fear of being charged with murder because if someone complains the police have no choice but to investigate and the CPS comes under pressure form absolutists when they try use not in the public interest as a reason for not charging.

  6. It’s not an automatic fine, as the school can give permission under certain circumstances.

    Surely the tried and tested method of dealing with exceptional cases is as follows:

    1) Stick to the rules, no exceptions
    2) Lose the paperwork somewhere between departments
    3) Nudge and a wink to the mother

    This is partly what we pay managers and heads for isn’t it? Besides, 2) seems to happen naturally half the time

  7. There’s no link so I can’t say if it was done, but sadly the only way to deal with these people is to strip away the public anonymity they hold and name them in the national media. They’ll get a week of savage criticism with their name dragged through the shit and nutters emailing and calling them.

    Regrettable but if you want some humanity back in the ‘System’, the “unnamed spokesmen” (or women) for these organisations need to know very clearly what to expect if they act like cunts.

  8. If I were the mother, I would take the holiday and return any letters imposing fines marked ‘Fuck off’ and cc-d to the top 10 twitter users, and allow nature to take its course.

    Eventually, I regret to say, someone somewhere is going to go mildly 12 bore on one or two of these people.

  9. Is not the correct response by the mother – “Fuck you; take me to court then and let the magistrate decide.”
    Names wil be named, Daily Wail will have a field day.

  10. Isn’t this just the State being, well, Courageous? And is an example why Murphy is correct and we need to throw more money down its voracious throat?

    Andrew M. Fining parents is perfectly OK in principle in such a situation in my view and so there’s nothing wrong with Gove in this respect. It is the application of the rules by bureaucratic panjandrum cvnts that is wrong. They have discretion to allow such absences, as my own head has done when I have asked if it is OK for us to have an absence in term-time. But some of them are just pure fvcking brain dead and it does not bode well for the education of the children in the charge of such idiots.

  11. Andrew M. Fining parents is perfectly OK in principle in such a situation in my view and so there’s nothing wrong with Gove in this respect.

    Ah, the benevolent state in action: we will provide a substandard education for your children and fine you if they miss part of it. It’s principled all right, only the principle in question has been adopted from the Soviets (who, incidentally, never imposed fines of this nature).

  12. VftS,

    As ‘lunchboxgate’ illustrated a few months ago, when some young lad brought some verboten foodstuff to school, they can take it out on your kid by proxy.

  13. Things like this make my piss boil. Do none of these fuckwits possess even a few brain cells – not even a modicum of compassion?

    if I were the Mother I’d ask for Trial by Jury – there is not a jury in the land that would convict her, and it would rightly send a great big fuck off two fingered salute to these brain-dead jobsworths.

  14. You just have to learn to play the system. I recently heard of a mother who informed her child’s school of an upcoming two-week illness.

    The other option is just to let it go down as an unauthorised absence – truanting. Does it really matter if a terminally ill child has truancy on their record? Does it matter if any child does?

  15. Amazing how easily common sense can be erased. Perhaps progressives are right and it is indeed a simple matter to change the common values and culture of a nation?

  16. tomsmith,

    it’s not the values and culture. It’s the bureaucracy and the fact that you get a shot every 4 years at changing it.

    With properly free schools, this and many other stupid things wouldn’t happen. Schools would be concerned with attendance only from the perspective of parents being aware that little Johnny hadn’t turned up.

    Most parents I know hate the intransigence of schools over taking days off. Even when it’s so they can fly somewhere a day earlier because the cost of flying on Thursday night instead of Friday is far cheaper (and they know the kids will only be playing games on the Friday at school).

  17. @ Dave The other option is just to let it go down as an unauthorised absence – truanting. Does it really matter if a terminally ill child has truancy on their record? Does it matter if any child does?

    No-one gives a fuck about the actual child in question, it goes on the school’s record. Substandard attendance means Ofsted and possible funding cuts.

    @ Bravefart Fining parents is perfectly OK in principle in such a situation in my view and so there’s nothing wrong with Gove in this respect.

    How does fining parents for the non-attendance of their children at school help anybody? What principle is involved?

  18. WP>

    “No-one gives a fuck about the actual child in question, it goes on the school’s record. Substandard attendance means Ofsted and possible funding cuts.”

    But seriously, who gives a fuck about that? Even the sodding headmaster would have to be an unimaginable cunt to try and make that argument to the parents.

  19. Not to defend the school, but it’s apparent from the rest of the story that the boy is not “terminally ill”; that’s just newspaper sensationalism. In fact he has severe cerebral palsy, which comes with a greatly reduced life expectancy.

  20. Bravefart, it may be your view that fining parents who take their children out of school occasionally for holidays and such “is perfectly OK in principle in such a situation”, but you are completely and utterly wrong. My wife and I, and I believe most other parents, are far better judges as to what is appropriate for our children than teachers, headmasters or tosspot politicians trying to solve non-problems to divert attention from their inability to solve real problems.

    The notion that missing a few days school every year is damaging to a child’s education and future prospects is utter bollocks. We have never been shy about taking our kids out of school, and we never asked permission, we just informed the school. Anecdotal evidence I accept (though I am arguing for parental judgement not a universal law), but our two eldest both have 1st Class Honours, one has a PhD (like his oft taken out of school dad) and the other is studying for one.

    If it is so terrible for children to miss a day of schooling then teacher strikes should be illegal and teachers should face fines or even imprisonment for denying their pupils a full education. Of course, in reality, if teachers were really the professionals they like to imagine they are then they would refuse to go on strike, professional people do not strike.

  21. How does fining parents for the non-attendance of their children at school help anybody? What principle is involved?

    The punishment of irresponsible parents (of all social classes) who wilfully prejudice the education of their children, although generally the media tends to focus on the Wayne and Waynetta chavs, when they and their children lie in bed when they should be at school.

  22. “My wife and I, and I believe most other parents, are far better judges as to what is appropriate for our children than teachers, headmasters or tosspot politicians trying to solve non-problems to divert attention from their inability to solve real problems”

    That is because you are wise and clever. What about thicko parents? Or those running the family business. Do they know better and should they have the choice?

    And how many days is OK? 10 a year? 15? 85?

    Would it be OK if a third of the class was absent on a given day? Or half of them? Or all of them for a whole term because their parents know best?

    I’m just asking.

    I have similar feelings about driving speed limits you see. They are aimed at bad drivers and I know I’m really good so I don’t think speed limits should apply to me and I should be able to razz up and down outside schools at 100 mph.

  23. This is a small demonstration that all organizations not open competition (either market or political) become tyrannical. In the UK, the set of all public employees constitutes such a tyranny. So, instead of focussing on changing the elected politicians, who are by international standards not too awful, we should be figuring out how to bring their so-called servants into the market. Killing them all would be un-British. Perhaps a lifetime term limit of, say, 4 years employment would work

  24. Andrew, I don’t believe laws should be enacted to capture people behaving reasonably in order to capture those who do need to be caught, that is just lazy, accommodating the lack of intelligence in the legal system from MPs formulating laws to coppers enforcing them. I disagree with speed limits but then I’m intelligent enough to realise that, even as the great driver that I am, driving at 100 mph outside a school would never be appropriate as I’d be unable to stop in time if a child ran out in front of me.

  25. DocBud

    We’ll have to disagree. As in many areas of the law, I believe this is a situation where the law has to be rigid, but not rigidly enforced. The discretion for term-time absence allowed to head teachers should be reasonably applied, as in most cases (mine and it seems yours) it is. The problem comes with the failure to exercise that discretion reasonably.

    “If it is so terrible for children to miss a day of schooling then teacher strikes should be illegal and teachers should face fines or even imprisonment for denying their pupils a full education. Of course, in reality, if teachers were really the professionals they like to imagine they are then they would refuse to go on strike, professional people do not strike.”

    I wholly agree here. Teachers are not, and never were, “professionals” along with many other areas of public service benefiting from career description inflation.

  26. This is what you get when everything is centralised. Those at the centre write Manuals, codes of conduct, sentencing matrices, everything that prescribes what is to be done in a given circumstance. Except, by depriving those at the “coal-face” from exercising their common sense and discretion you lose ordinary common humanity.
    It is time for a major change. Heads should roll in very large quantities.

  27. The marginal impact of any given day at school is infinitesimal, especially given how thoroughly useless British State education is anyway. But that’s beside the point. There should be no compulsory school attendance and jumped-up middle-ranking civil servants like teachers should have no authority to level fines for absence. Truancy is different, since that is a child absenting itself from school against the parents’ wishes, but it can be dealt with via other mechanisms. The relationship between people and the public sector has become inverted. They should be working for us, at our behest, and not the other way around. A school should have no more right to fine parents for not sending their children to school there on any given day than Tesco should have the right to fine you for not shopping there.

  28. Unlike the heartless private sector, the public sector is full of caring individuals, as I think you’ll find these two stories illustrate.

  29. The mother is either sensationalising or is an idiot (possibly both).

    All she needs to do is withdraw the child from the school and say he is “receiving education otherwise than at school” and the local education fascisti and busybodies can go fuck themselves with a long, tubular pole.

    Score 1 for mum, minus infinity for the jobsworths…

  30. We’ve actually got a letter in for Master SE saying that we are taking him to Berlin to enhance his Higher German. That it involves three school days is two less than his English trip to theatres in London.

  31. @ PaulB
    With all due respect – which in this case means that you are NOT an idiot – a pedant would claim that celebral palsy *is* a terminal illness since no-one ever recovers from it before dying.
    Going back to the original argument – if you think it is important to provide an education to a child with celebral palsy, then you design the education around the child: you do NOT try to fit the child into your standardised format.

  32. “What about thicko parents? Or those running the family business. Do they know better and should they have the choice?”

    Of course.

    Not sure why attending crap state education and paying through the nose for it is viewed as a fantastic benefit by so many?

    This is merely another ownership claim by the government over the formerly autonomous lives of individual people. They aren’t your children; they belong to the state.

  33. Stigler:”It’s not the values and culture. It’s the bureaucracy and the fact that you get a shot every 4 years at changing it.”

    Look at how many people accept this intrusion into private family life and want more of it. Over time we are trained by the state bureaucracy to act in the way it wants. It seems a slow but sure process.

  34. I simply think the idea that ‘Headteachers’ (like they were something special), should be allowed to determine individual family arrangements stinks. Jus fookin teach will yer!

  35. @Andrew I have similar feelings about driving speed limits you see. They are aimed at bad drivers and I know I’m really good so I don’t think speed limits should apply to me and I should be able to razz up and down outside schools at 100 mph.

    The 70mph motorway limit was not aimed at bad drivers. Quite the opposite. It was brought in to stop the very experienced test drivers of motor manufacturers using the M1 as a test track. But even if you were right we have ended up with a system where a newly qualified youth can climb into any old car with an MOT certificate and drive at 70mph. An advanced motorist with a 40 year clean record and driving a powerful, well maintained car that can come to a dead stop while the youth is still thinking about applying his brakes is limited to exactly the same speed. It’s the law of the lowest common denominator. Ban sweets because some dope will eat too many and get fat. Put up the price of booze because some idiots can’t hold their drink or behave in a civilised way. Don’t let people make arrangements to die with dignity because some arsehole family will use it to bump off granny. Don’t let people chase cheese downhill because someone might trip and hurt themselves. FFS!

  36. @ Oliver

    I’ve got some sympathy for the school on that one. 100% attendance is a pretty easy thing to measure. As soon as you start to make allowances for certain types of absence, you create problems. Sure, attending a mothers funeral shouldn’t ever count against someone.. but what about gran’s funeral? Or a cousin who was more like a sister? What about a friend? What if a child’s dad is taken seriously ill and the family want to be together? What if Aunt Bessie gets the OBE and the whole family want to go to the Palace? What about [insert non-Christian religious event of your choice]?.

    It’s a minefield. So I can forgive it if the metric is ‘harsh’. It’s not as if the kid missed out on anything particularly special – it was a meal out. Nobody is saying the kid shouldn’t have had the day off, and certainly nobody is trying to fine anyone, they just didn’t give her a prize for 100% attendance because she didn’t have 100% attendance.

  37. I find it quite surprising that, in this of all places, it took so long until someone (thank you, Bloke in Costa Rica) stopped quibbling about the standard of modern education and made the principled argument that the teachers should not have the right to levy such a fine because the children are not theirs.

    Allowing the state to think the children are theirs leads nowhere good. In Germany, parents who attempt to home-school face the police breaking down their front doors and dragging their children to school by force. A lot of them are now leaving the country and claiming asylum elsewhere. Asylum, for wanting to home-school in a developed civilised nation. Fuck’s sake.

  38. What if Aunt Bessie gets the OBE and the whole family want to go to the Palace?

    Not very effing likely for her Yorkshire puds.

  39. TTG,

    > 100% attendance is a pretty easy thing to measure.

    I know maths teaching is shit these days, but are schools really finding other percentages difficult to measure?

    > As soon as you start to make allowances for certain types of absence, you create problems.

    No, what you create are areas where responsible people have to exercise reasonable discretion. And, as Randy Cassingham is forever pointing out, they shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways: either they take the salary that comes with the kind of job where they make sometimes extremely difficult decisions and accept the responsibility for those decisions, or they blindly follow a set of strict rules and take the sort of salary that typically comes with that level of decision-making.

    > Nobody is saying the kid shouldn’t have had the day off, and certainly nobody is trying to fine anyone, they just didn’t give her a prize for 100% attendance because she didn’t have 100% attendance.

    Well, not just that: they also withdrew all future prizes for 100% attendance and told the whole school why. Collective punishment with the scapegoat named. So they’re doing everything they can to make sure the other kids bully her. Why on Earth anyone who can remember school would have any sympathy with such utter, utter, cunts is beyond me.

  40. TTG

    100% attendance is an odd thing to reward, it penalises the sick for a start. For the healthy, their attendance, as well as punctuality, will often be determined by their parents, perhaps the parents should get a prize.

    Our children’s school has always insisted that attendance at the ANZAC Day parade is compulsory. Not one of our children has ever been as I refuse to be told by a school what I must do, let alone on a public holiday and they cannot get their without a lift from mum or dad.

  41. S2:
    A terminal illness is an illness which is progressive, which is almost certain to cause death, and which gives a very short life expectancy – less than six months say.

    A severe case of Cerebral Palsy in a teenager is none of those things. Describing this boy as terminally ill is wrong.

  42. ” In Germany, parents who attempt to home-school face the police breaking down their front doors and dragging their children to school by force.”

    Old habits die hard

  43. PaulB,

    You are claiming that something that reduces your life expectancy isn’t fatal. I appreciate that there’s a technical definition you’re trying to explain, but that’s still wrong.

  44. @ Squander Two

    > No, what you create are areas where responsible people have to exercise reasonable discretion. And, as Randy Cassingham is forever pointing out, they shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways: either they take the salary that comes with the kind of job where they make sometimes extremely difficult decisions and accept the responsibility for those decisions, or they blindly follow a set of strict rules and take the sort of salary that typically comes with that level of decision-making.

    I don’t particularly disagree with that. And the decision, in this case, was made – they would take the official attendance data and not make any exceptions. The eventual consequence of that is the school being plastered all over the media, and the ‘reward’ being withdrawn for all pupils in future because it’s just not worth the bother.

    @ DocBud

    > 100% attendance is an odd thing to reward, it penalises the sick for a start.

    No it doesn’t. It doesn’t penalise anyone. It just doesn’t reward the sick. Or do you think that the IOC penalises people who aren’t good at running by not giving them gold medals?

    Everyone knows that a significant amount of ‘sickness’ absence is bollocks (for kids, just as for working adults). Modestly rewarding good attendance is meant to recognise those that demonstrably don’t take the piss. Bad luck on those who are genuinely ill, but them’s the breaks and there’s nothing a school/employer can do to prevent those absences.

  45. PaulB,

    Cerebral palsy itself is not itself progressive, however, in severe forms complications such as breathing difficulties may result which can mean significantly reduces lifespans.

  46. “Well done, little Timmy, thanks to your parents being good little foot soldiers of the state who don’t dare buck authority you have achieved 100% attendance. When here you’ve been disruptive of others education and uninterested in your own but it is attendance that counts so, once again, well done and please accept this prize. Oh, and can I have my wallet back?”

  47. TTG,

    > And the decision, in this case, was made – they would take the official attendance data and not make any exceptions.

    Hmm. You’re saying they exercised their discretion by deciding to exercise no discretion and follow rules exactly to the letter? That’s one take, I suppose. Here’s a question: would teachers’ unions accept that excuse from, say, investment bankers?

    > The eventual consequence of that is the school being plastered all over the media, and the ‘reward’ being withdrawn for all pupils in future because it’s just not worth the bother.

    But this only happened because they made an obviously shit decision that any five-year-old could have told them was wrong. Perhaps they should have asked one.

    Seriously, for all the lecturing we get about what compassionate people teachers are and how good they are at being nice to children and tailoring the school experience to individual needs etc, it didn’t occur to a single one of an entire schoolful of them to say, “Hey, the only day this kid took off was when her mum died. Maybe we’ll count that as 100% attendance because she’s had a tough time and we at least know how to pretend not to be cunts”?

    > It doesn’t penalise anyone. It just doesn’t reward the sick. Or do you think that the IOC penalises people who aren’t good at running by not giving them gold medals?

    Well, that’s exactly what a whole generation of children have been taught by… guess who? Been to a school sports day lately?

    Anyway, I don’t know where you got the idea that it “just doesn’t reward the sick”. The school obviously know why the girl took the day off, so it wasn’t sick leave and no-one ever thought it was.

    As for penalising people, the bit where the head told the entire school that they’re not going to do the nice fun trip to a restaurant ever again because of [pointing] THAT GIRL is difficult to see as anything but a punishment. Its effect will certainly be utterly miserable for her. They could easily have discontinued the prize quietly, without blaming anyone. They decided to publicly blame the girl. Nice people.

  48. I suspect PaulB is sort of using the social security definition of a terminal illness (though he’s getting it wrong) because that’s the kind of thing he does.

    He believes the State’s narrow definition of a terminal ilness is the only valid one, whereas it is not.

    Many insurance companies, for instance, allow you twelve months, not six.

    Beyond that, most normal people would accept that any condition which will shorten your life, quite a lot, is a terminal illness.

    One day we will shake off the ninnyish, mealy-mouthed, pedantic bullshit exhibited by Mr B in favour of a world where words are accepted to mean what they say, rather than what the bureaucracy says they mean, but it may take some time and a lot of heartache.

  49. @S2

    ‘Hmm. You’re saying they exercised their discretion by deciding to exercise no discretion and follow rules exactly to the letter? That’s one take, I suppose.’

    I agree with you, but it is possible to use your discretion, in the narrow sense, by deciding to stick rigidly to a policy.

  50. The definition of a terminal illness is not a pedantic question. It’s a term with a specific meaning, which is a long way from describing this case.

    Patients usually want to think of themselves as living with their disease rather than dying from it, for as long as they possibly can. They don’t want to be labelled “terminally ill”, and we should respect that, rather than bandy the term about to make this school look bad – something it seems well able to do for itself.

    Interested: the meaning of the term is nothing to do with the state. Look it up.

  51. PaulB,

    > Look it up.

    OK:

    In medical terminology, a terminal illness is a disease that will result in the death of the patient regardless of any treatment intervention. … The six-month standard is arbitrary

    Pedantry aside, I think that might matter if one were writing a medical textbook, but not so much if one is writing a newspaper article. As Interested correctly says, “most normal people would accept that any condition which will shorten your life, quite a lot, is a terminal illness” — and it is normal everyday usage and understanding of language that we should expect from newspapers. Similarly, I’m not particularly bothered if a newspaper refers to a nuclear bomb as an “atomic” bomb. And you didn’t just say they were technically incorrect; you said it was “sensationalism” — i.e. that the writer was deliberately lying for effect. Not that I think for one second that The Mail are above that sort of thing, but Occam’s Razor says the writer (who I’m guessing is not their medical correspondent, on a story like this) probably just thought, like most English speakers, that “terminal” means “fatal” and that “illness” means “illness”.

  52. @ Squander Two
    >“Hey, the only day this kid took off was when her mum died. Maybe we’ll count that as 100% attendance because she’s had a tough time and we at least know how to pretend not to be cunts”?

    Entirely valid, and the school admitted that they should have reviewed the data and spotted this. But this is a relatively easy case and you must surely see how making exceptions can bring it’s own problems. That’s how ‘all must have prizes’ cultures start.

    >Well, that’s exactly what a whole generation of children have been taught by… guess who? Been to a school sports day lately?

    So which is it to be? Prizes for everyone, or prizes for those who qualify based on an objective criteria (e.g. winning a race). What if little billy is totally the bestest egg-and-spooner in the school but he misses Sports Day because of a funeral? Should he get a prize?

    I’m not clear what standards your measuring teachers against here. You seem quite disparaging about the values/approach of the modern teaching profession, yet here’s your criticizing them for not adhering to them.

    >Its effect will certainly be utterly miserable for her.

    Possibly. But if it is then I’m inclined to blame the parent who went to the newspapers because preshous iccle Maddie didn’t get to go to Frankie and Benny’s. Not only did that draw attention to the child, it also generated the disproportionate fallout that led to the decision to scrap the whole scheme. Even if it was a terrible policy/decision, it doesn’t merit that.

  53. @PaulB ‘Interested: the meaning of the term is nothing to do with the state. Look it up.’

    I did look it up, and mentioned two of them – the State’s (which is closest to yours) and that of the insurance companies.

    Then there’s this newspaper’s definition, which makes three, and which – given that this lad has an ‘illness’ which will hasten his death via complications – is equally fair.

    When in hole, set aside shovel and grow some humility.

  54. If you think that the average 70-year-old is terminally ill, then so is this boy. And if not, then not.

    But when one’s antagonists insist like Humpty Dumpty that words mean whatever they want them to mean, it’s best to leave them to it.

  55. Re. Myself (above)

    I’m not clear what standards your measuring teachers against here. You seem quite disparaging about the values/approach of the modern teaching profession, yet here’s your criticizing them for not adhering to them.

    I’m going to blame the ipad/autocorrect for that. Even though I’m not 100% sure I posted using either.

  56. TTG,

    > What if little billy is totally the bestest egg-and-spooner in the school but he misses Sports Day because of a funeral? Should he get a prize?

    It was you who brought up medal-winning in sports, not me. I responded with what I thought was deserved flippancy, but, since you apparently think your comment about the IOC was a valid analogy that merits a proper discussion, fine:

    No, I don’t think it’s remotely the same thing. One is a competition that takes place over a very short time, for which one has the opportunity to prepare, which takes place within a framework in which it is understood that bad luck may happen on the day but that winning is winning, no excuses. The other is the school’s equivalent of the HR department, rewarding people not for what they’ve actually done but for stuff that’s happened to them. If there were an Olympic sport of, oh, I don’t know, standing still under a thousand falling balloons and seeing how many hit you or something, then it would have been a good analogy.

    > I’m not clear what standards your measuring teachers against here.

    Reasonableness. Applying discretion where appropriate rather than retreating into jobsworthiness. Not being cunts. Same standards I judge anyone else by. You appear to want me to provide a point-by-point guide for them to follow, a definition of how to be reasonable and not be a cunt. I would counter that anyone who requires such a guide isn’t qualified to go anywhere near kids, let alone be a teacher. And I’d prefer they stayed away from me as well.

    > I’m inclined to blame the parent who went to the newspapers because preshous iccle Maddie didn’t get to go to Frankie and Benny’s.

    You mean the recently bereaved widower who had the temerity to complain when he discovered that his daughter’s school had penalised her for having a dead mother? Yeah, fuck him.

    Secondly, you’re just backing up one of the major problems with schools here: the fact that they make themselves complaint-proof by holding children hostage. If only it were just theoretical, but, sadly, teachers again and again demonstrate that they are all too willing to make life more difficult for children whose parents dare criticise them. Hey, nice kid you’ve got here. Shame if something were to happen to it.

    We’ve just changed our daughter’s school due to teachers making her miserable and putting her off learning in the first place and then, when we had the temerity to point this out, escalating and making life even worse for her to punish us. They knew how to make her cry in class and had no compunctions about doing so. We were very lucky to get a place elsewhere at short notice. Since she left, most of her friends’ parents have confided in us that they have much the same problem with the teachers in question but dare not complain. And you, apparently, if parents do have the nerve to complain, blame them for the vindictive reprisals.

  57. @ Squander Two

    >You appear to want me to provide a point-by-point guide for them to follow, a definition of how to be reasonable and not be a cunt.

    Not really, I was just trying to make the point that it’s not as easy as is being made out. This is a case where discretion could easily be exercised without much risk of anyone objecting, but as the cases get less clear cut you’re into a bit of a minefield and I can see why a school might decide not to bother. As it happens, they ended up fucked because they chose the ‘easy’ option.. and now they’ve gone for the even-easier option of just not bothering to offer the ‘reward at all’.

    God forbid anyone should dare to look at an issue from the other side, eh?

    I’ve been in ‘professional’ situations where we’ve tried to do nice things, but ended up with problems because there are *always* those who think they’ve been unfairly treated and, as a consequence, make life difficult enough that it’s hardly worth the effort. And we’re dealing with adults whom we can legitimately tell to ‘fuck off and toughen up’ if they don’t like something – not an option available when dealing with 6-year-olds.. so ‘computer says no’ does have some attraction.

    > And you, apparently, if parents do have the nerve to complain, blame them for the vindictive reprisals.

    If they go to the papers with a trivial matter then yeah, I blame them. By all means write to the head, if that doesn’t work out then, if you think the matter merits it, write to the local authority or your MP or whoever the fuck else is paid to pretend to give a fuck.. but if you don’t want your child to be a target for everyone, not just shitty teachers, then don’t write to the newspaper.

    Seriously.. would you expose your child to that kind of attention in those circumstances?

    (Fair point on the distinction re. Sports Day, mind)

  58. > Seriously.. would you expose your child to that kind of attention in those circumstances?

    Write to the papers? God, no. I’d put it on the Internet.

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