A special thank you: parent to teacher

I haven’t blogged for a while. Most of my energy is going into my book on teacher recruitment and retention, juggled with my no. 1 priority, family and my fabulous new(ish) job. But tonight has given me a fresh – and much needed – dose of optimism.

In a moment, I’m simply going to copy, below, the email I have just written to my daughters’ school after a parents’ evening that has left me with the warmest glow I’ve had in a very long time when thinking about education. Not because my children are wonderful (though I’m biased, and of course they are). Certainly not because they don’t both have things they really need to work on, because they really, really do. But because their teachers are remarkable, wonderful people and they make a phenomenal difference – every single day. And sometimes, it’s worth saying so.

And also partly because, for all the disorganised mess that is the contact with my school and the lurking worry that, as two career-parents, we might be causing permanent damage (career parents, wipe your brows now – based on my small – and slightly unwashed – sample, we’re not).

Here is is. And #thankateacher. You know you want to. It’s a jungle out there, and I’d bet they could do with the boost.

Dear *****,

This isn’t the first email like this – and I very much doubt it will be the last. But I was brought up to to ensure I give credit where it’s due, and old habits die hard.

This evening’s parents’ evening has been an injection of positive energy on so many levels.

As a teacher, with the research I’ve been doing, there has been so much doom and gloom, and it is truly heartening to spend time speaking to people who (for all the challenges I know exist) ooze passion for the job. It’s getting increasingly challenging for so many teachers, but your school as the kind of ethos which means it IS possible for students to excel academically and be happy.

Most importantly, though, as parents, tonight has meant the world to us. I can’t help but worry before every parents’ evening. Who knows whether working full time and doing all sorts of ridiculous study might cause long-term scars. Who knows whether having a Dad who disappears to conflict zones at short notice might be damaging. To say nothing of all those late lunch money payments, delayed requests for parents’ evening slots, last minute requests for clubs and missed emails!  All the mornings of wondering whether that jumper would do a third day and the child coming home with falling-apart indoor shoes. 

S put it in a nutshell when I got home (and we did the usual, ‘explain yourself….’ mock disappointed faces – that one never gets tired!): ‘Mr F knows me so well!’

So, thank you:

For the hours you put in to tailoring the learning for every individual; for the pictures you designed to go with the complicated sums; for the river monster ideas you spent your evenings thinking up; for teaching children who seem entirely unaware that they are being tested; for replying to the late-night anxious emails about sudden insecurities and tactfully pointing out the possibility of nits; for staying beside her for the seven attempts to use a protractor properly; for knowing their friendships and associated crises; for greeting us with such warmth us at 7 in the evening on a Tuesday when any reasonable person would be craving their sofa; for the strides you have made in genuine inclusion of all students (the Christmas play remains a highlight of my year); for the child who sobs on the second day of the 48 hour vomiting bug because she really, really wants to go to school; for the walks in the wood, the chances to shine on stage, the merits and the endless energy.

Above all, thank you for doing it not for yourselves, not for Ofsted, not for the data, not even for us – but for them. You are giving them the best possible grounding we could possibly hope for. A special thank you also to your teams who work alongside you.

They are happy and they love learning. What more could a parent ask for?

Put that in the Ofsted handbook – it’s worth a thousand multi-coloured marking codes.

Thank you,


P.S. Slightly less of a thank you for the triumphant thunking dance coming from the floor above from our very un-sleepy, confident and victorious children.

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