This business of the two runaways – as a former head, I’ve mixed thoughts on it.
An independent school is dependent on its parents to fund it. Sure we got some statutory funding but by and large, it was the parents.
And so there is a battle for power – the school lays down its rules and is within its rights to demand parents accept the policy or go elsewhere but the parents can also point out that they are funding that place.
There has to be some space in the middle, maybe more towards the school’s end and it’s all in how it’s applied. There’s too much emphasis on the draconian in this country.
With those parents who kept taking their children out of lessons on trips, let’s imagine it was an independent school. OK – that would be worth a discussion with the head and parents, maybe with school council member present, at which the points are made to the parents that they did sign up to an agreement and other parents are looking at these breaches with a view to expecting the school to be what they are paying for.
Then there is the issue of the child missing work and how vital or not that is in the context of coming exams etc.
Really, it’s how it’s approached with the parents, the sour look, the pomposity, the “my way or the highway”.
In the parents’ case, there are work schedules, when holidays can be jointly taken and so on. It’s not all that easy for both parents and child to be able to all go away at the one time. I never had an issue with parents taking their children as they always telegraphed it, always asked if it was OK, we brought in the teacher and we scheduled around it.
Plus it’s their children, not ours and we were selling freedom of choice in education.
I’d like to think it was one reason we retained those parents. If we’re reasonable, they’re going to be. But our staff needed to be considered too – their schedule for all the children.
In the case of the two runaways, coming back to that, well OK, the school can’t take them back. Seriously, with all the good will in the world, I can’t see how that breach can be condoned – it would soon get out of hand and those parents are paying for a service which includes discipline.
But it can still be delivered in a reasoned way – that the school just can’t hang on them now, given the responsibilities to the whole school community.
As for those two themselves and whether they’ll be separated, they’re not 14 and 13, 15 and 14, 16 and 15 or even 17 and 16 – they’re 18 and 17. Do you recall what you were like at those ages? Not exactly naive and non-sentient.
And it’s a bit of spilt milk now, is it not? If she was to be pregnant, she would be by now. Let them work through it – maybe they’ll stay together, maybe they won’t.
As for whether UKBA or whatever it is now should have stopped them – sorry, yes it should have. One was underage.