Today my husband and I pulled our son out of his primary school.
It’s one of those fancy private schools, with a conspicuous air of exclusivity and wealth. You know the type – big fees, big gates, and parents with big cars (and even bigger pockets). We had eagerly and dutifully placed him on the wait list at birth, and had already coughed up a small fortune to get him through to Year Two.
It was a school that “actively embraced community” and involved parents in all facets of learning. However, it wasn’t long before we discovered that this purported culture of inclusivity meant predatory behaviour by parents, which all too often was tolerated, and even indirectly facilitated, by both teachers and management.
Mothers would hover in the playground at drop off and pick up. They’d sip turmeric lattes at the school café (yep, café), while keeping a close watch over their children as they went about their school day. They’d use reading and volunteering as a guise to spend time observing the classroom dynamics.
Pulling our seven-year-old out of this school wasn’t an easy decision to make – he loved his school, and had lots of friends – and it was a long time coming.
We’d been concerned about a culture of parental bullying towards children of a certain ilk since kindergarten. Those kids who perhaps failed to conform and comply with unwritten norms and molds were ostracised and targeted. “Boisterous kids.” “Energetic kids.” “Boy’s boys” just like our son.
The final straw was a call from the principal after school. He told us that an irate parent had approached our seven-year-old in the playground, and had accused him of pushing his daughter in the classroom.
This father later admitted he’d driven to the school with the sole intention of seeking out our child. He found our son walking out of his classroom and approached him. The details of exactly what happened are unclear. We are relying on grainy security footage and witness accounts from kids and teachers.
Should schools stop kids from having one ‘best’ friend, or is it none of their business what our kids choose to do? Holly and Andrew discuss on This Glorious Mess. Post continues after audio.
But from what we can confidently ascertain, a teacher interrupted this father as he was yelling at our son to “stay away” from his daughter. Two children claim they saw the man grab our child by the back of the shirt.
These little boys say they wanted to defend their mate but were scared as the man was so huge and angry. The teacher clearly (and thankfully) intervened at a crucial point. She told the father he was acting inappropriately, and she promptly removed our child from the situation and ensured that he was okay.