Use the Parent-O-Matic app to see if your new parents will be Worrypottium helicopterae, Litigious maximus or Perfectus perfectus      28th Aug 2021

   I’m developing a new app for my phone. It’s called Parent-O-Matic and in true Dragon’s Den style, I’m looking for a software developer to help me with the technology and someone to donate some cash to promote it. I think it will be a must-have download for every teacher.

   This all stems from an app that I downloaded last week called Chirp-O-Matic, which identifies birds from their tweets and calls. You press a button, record the sound and it identifies the species, gives you its Latin name and a brief description - a bit like Shazam, but with feathers. On recent dog walks, I’ve identified a mistle thrush (turdus vicivorus), the ubiquitous ring-necked parakeet (psittaculla krameria) and a flamingo (phoenicopterus roseus), although I think I was in a 3G blackspot that day.

   Chirp-O-Matic got me thinking about how useful this might be at school.  In the next few weeks, we will meet our new Reception Class parents and many new families will be joining us in September. With my new app, Parent-O-Matic, I will be able to point my phone at the new parents as they arrive, press a button and it will identify what type of parent they will be for the next seven years of primary school life. I will be able to sort the ‘Yes, come on in’ from the ‘No, I’m in a meeting’ and the ‘You need to take it up with the governing body’ parents.

   So, if you are a software developer looking for a project, below are the Parent-O-Matic types that will need to be inputted into the app.

 

The Cotton Wool Parent (Latin name: Worrypottium helicopterae)

   This parent will force their offspring to wear several coats, scarves and a bobble hat, even at the height of summer. They will have gloves sewn into their sleeves, carry antibacterial wipes even in non-pandemic years and will usually be on antibiotics. The parent will also provide copious mid-morning snacks to prevent ‘hangriness.’ These will be organic, completely unpalatable and will arrive in school in a lunchbox made of recycled sandals.

   Prone to: Daily emails to the school office, arranging medical appointments during school time and making diagnoses of complex learning needs and allergies using Google.

   Most likely to say: ‘I’ve given her some Calpol, just in case.’

 

The Pushy Parent (Latin name: Overtutorus horribilis)

   These parents will be forever asking for additional reading books and more advanced spellings. They will also request extra homework which, when handed in, will look so professional that it will be a worthy of inclusion in a Tate Gallery exhibition. Their offspring will look pale, pasty and exhausted due to lack of exposure to natural sunlight. They will leave school promptly at home time to shoot off to daily private tutors and will carry a map of selective secondary schools wherever they go.

   Prone to: Being over-critical of their offspring, moving into a better catchment area and lobbying at every opportunity for their child to have a starring role in the end of year production.

   Most likely to say: ‘I know he's only seven, but we're hoping for Oxbridge.’

 

The Laid-Back Parent (Latin name – Virtualli horizontalis)

   This parent will regularly arrive late for school in the mornings. Their offspring will often appear unkempt, with only a nod to the official school uniform and will occasionally arrive wearing odd shoes. Offspring will also show a flare for arts-based subjects, become obsessed with their imaginary friends and have an unusual affinity with chess. If homework is handed in at all, it will look messy, confusing, almost as if their child had completed it alone. Permission slips for trips will always need chasing, they will often collect late from school without explanation and oblivious to school policy, will send their child to school loaded with peanut-based snacks.

   Prone to: Dropping their child at school on INSET Days when everyone is on holiday and booking a holiday during term time as a genuine accident.

   Most likely to say: ‘Just as long as they are happy.’

 

The Tricky Parent (Latin name - Litigious maximus)

   This parent will complain about absolutely everything and will set up WhatsApp groups to air their views of the school, the staff and all the children except their own. They believe that their child is gifted, unfailingly honest and a perfect angel, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Although living locally, they will arrive at school in a huge four by four, blocking neighbouring driveways and doing elaborate seven-point turns outside school at home time as several hundred parents and their children try to cross the road.

   Prone to: Owing dinner money, questionable political views and wearing pyjamas at drop off.

   Most likely to say: ‘I’m going to Ofsted about this.’

 

The Ideal Parent (Latin name: Perfectus perfectus)

Grounded, supportive and rare, this parent is an endangered species. They must be protected and nurtured at every opportunity.

   Prone to: Sending in cakes for the staffroom, unprompted.

   Most likely to say: ‘Thanks for everything you are doing for my child.’

Colin Dowland - Primary Headteacher, North London. He tweets as @colindowland.

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Five Golden Rules to
Avoid Meeting School
Families During the Holidays      
15th Aug 2021

   During the school holidays, there’s nothing worse than an unexpected, awkward, out of context meeting with a pupil or parent. If you are anything like me, it often takes just a few seconds more than is socially acceptable to recognise who is accosting you as you wait in the queue at the bar, the cinema or the erectile dysfunction clinic.
   And as I am sure you are aware, the Department for Education Teacher Standards document 2011 annoyingly instructs teachers to, ‘maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour, within and outside school.’  Yes, outside school. The DfE have always been killjoys.
   So, to enable you to let your hair down, go out on the lash and enjoy yourself properly for the first time in months, here are five Golden Rules to help you stay safely within the guidelines.

RULE 1 - HOME STAYCATIONS
   If you want to avoid any school families approaching you at your local Tesco Express, unshaved, hung over and still in your pyjamas, always live at least twenty minutes’ drive or a sixty-minute walk from your school. This also prevents unfair and judgemental eyebrow raising if your shopping trolley contains crates of lager, cases of wine, ciggy roll-up papers, condoms, pregnancy testing kits or heaven forbid, The Daily Mail.

RULE 2 - HOLIDAYING AWAY
   If you are really, really unlucky, you might end up staying at the same hotel or resort as one of your school families. To avoid embarrassment here, always take an additional suitcase full of cunning disguises. Include a variety of extravagant, different coloured wigs, a stack of false beards and moustaches, a full range of hats, stage make-up and dark glasses. Packing either a vicar’s collar and cassock or a nun’s habit and wimple are also advisable.
   One of the very few benefits of the pandemic is that you can also hide behind a generously sized face covering, although this does interfere with planned heavy drinking and hitting it off with someone new.
   The suitcase should always include at least one cross-dressing outfit to put really persistent parents at a disadvantage.

RULE 3 – SWIMMING
   If you are planning to go swimming during the holidays, always ensure that full ‘personal topiary’ has taken place before donning a swimsuit or bikini. Likewise, Speedos or budgie smugglers should be avoided to prevent scaring younger children and any adults with a nervous disposition. To cover any embarrassment here, carry a small pretentious paperback or a copy of Tes magazine, depending on the size of coverage needed. This will also raise your intellectual and professional currency.
   Stay away from nudist beaches altogether if you want to look those types of parents or children in the eye at parents’ meetings ever again.

RULE 4 – MEDICAL MATTERS
   Like going to the bank, attending medical appointments is often impossible during term time. So, during the holiday, as you start to address your long-neglected broken body, mind and spirit, always cross-check the names of any doctor or consultant with your school management database to avoid an unexpected familiar face as you strip down to your underpants. This is particularly important before prostate examinations, smear tests and anything involving bodily fluids. This also applies to any therapists you need to visit because of those hyper-realistic dreams you keep having about doing really nasty things to the Secretary of State for Education.

RULE 5 – IGNORE RULES 1 to 4
    If you can’t’ be arsed with the above four Golden Rules, you have just two options - stay at home during the holidays (we’ve got good at that recently) or just ignore the Teacher Standards, since the amazing standards teachers have set this academic year have gone way, way, way higher and broader than those set back in 2011. And besides, you deserve to have your very own ‘Covid Catch-Up’ and ‘Recovery Plans’ put in place too. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Colin Dowland - Primary Headteacher, North London. He tweets as @colindowland.
He would like to thank @AdiBloom for her brilliant Tes editing, wisdom and good humour.

A BIT ABOUT COLIN DOWLAND

SHORT BIOG

Colin Dowland was the winner of the prestigious

£10,000 Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize 2019 with his comedy play 'Headless'

and is currently seeking a producer/company to take up the play.

He has also written five books for children - Billy the Squid, Billy the Squid Rides Again, Weevil K. Neevil: Stuntbug and Eddie and the Zedlines, all published by Barrington Stoke, as well as an early reader Ping Pong for Pearson Rigby Star. His plays for radio and stage have been shortlisted for national competitions and his first sitcom was shortlisted for the BBC Laugh Track initiative. His comedy material has also appeared on BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Newsjack and he has written many articles for the Times Educational Supplement.

Unlike many writers, Colin Dowland has no cats.

Billy the squid.jpg
Eddie and the zedlines.jpg
Billy rides again2.jpg
Weevil K Neevil.jpg
Ping pong 22.jpg

A BIT ABOUT COLIN DOWLAND

SHORT BIOG

Colin Dowland was the winner of the prestigious

£10,000 Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize 2019 with his comedy play 'Headless'

and is currently seeking a producer/company to take up the play.

He has also written five books for children - Billy the Squid, Billy the Squid Rides Again, Weevil K. Neevil: Stuntbug and Eddie and the Zedlines, all published by Barrington Stoke, as well as an early reader Ping Pong for Pearson Rigby Star. His plays for radio and stage have been shortlisted for national competitions and his first sitcom was shortlisted for the BBC Laugh Track initiative. His comedy material has also appeared on BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Newsjack and he has written many articles for the Times Educational Supplement.

Unlike many writers, Colin Dowland has no cats.

Billy the squid.jpg
Eddie and the zedlines.jpg
Billy rides again2.jpg
Weevil K Neevil.jpg
Ping pong 22.jpg
COLIN DOWLAND - LANDSCAPE PHOTO NARROW ROAD.jpg

Colin Dowland: writer of stuff and 'that letter' primary head

Lost sense of EduHumour?

The invaluable teacher resource, Tes has had an editorial rethink and has decided to do away with any Comment articles. Crucially, there will no longer be any humour pieces (which all teachers need) and any satire to call our educational leaders to account (which we also all desperately need). So, until Tes gets its sense of humour back, here's an alternative #EduHumour page.             

Click below to see the archive of all Colin Dowland's Tes Articles.

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