If you’ve got a child of school age, you’re probably well used to parents’ evening.
They usually happen towards the end of each term and can be – for some at least – a useful catch up with the teacher on just how your little one’s doing.
You’re probably not expecting them to bring to light any major issues about your child – as surely anything like that would be brought to your attention more imminently, right?
But for sure, they can give some clarity/confirmation that your kid is doing A-okay in the education stakes.
Now, though, one leading education expert – Chief Executive of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council Eileen Prior – has suggested it might be time to scrap parents’ evening, which she deems to be an “institution which fails us all”.
Whoa, strong words…
But does she have a point? Prior says:
“As a parent, [parents’ nights] are a nightmare and as a teacher – I am not one – but I dare say they are a nightmare, too.
“Parents don’t really get the opportunity to share their concerns to any great degree or to ask questions, nor is the teacher really able to.
“This is an institution in our system that fails us all – parents, pupils and the teaching profession.
“I’ve never met any parent or any teacher who thinks they are worth doing the way they are done. But we seem to be stuck with them because, ‘This is what we do’.”
Ms Prior argues that if there were effective communication between parents and teachers throughout the year, parents evening would become a redundant concept.
While she was speaking specifically about secondary schools, we wonder if Ms Prior’s points are relevant to primary school too?
One of our MFM team said she was looking forward to parents’ evening to discuss a specific matter with her son’s teacher, only to be told “you’ll have to book a separate appointment to talk about that”.
Another admitted she didn’t go to her daughter’s parents’ evening this year as she’s confident she’s doing OK – and if she’s not, it needs more than a 10-minute chat at the tail end of the day to work out what to do.
On the other hand, supporters of parents’ evenings say they’re a great opportunity for mums and dads to get some rare face-to-face time with their children’s key educator, and are one way of ensuring engagement with what their child’s up to at school.