The involvement of parents in school life was clearly important for getting the parents to send their children in the first place. Parents’ days were organised, and occasionally concerts and performances were put on and the parents invited. Floodgate Street’s Head Teacher records the particular success of one of these:
“This afternoon the mothers of the children were invited to come to the school to hear the singing + to see the Dancing of Upper Class Girls. Over 100 attended, and their evident enjoyment was most gratifying.” [S68/3/1 27.4.1921]
However, sometimes the parents caused trouble for the school. Those truanting and sleeping out often had a reason for avoiding home, such as drunken parents. [S68/2/1 14.10.1898] One drunken father even attacked the head Teacher at Floodgate Street School when he was refused permission to remove his daughter from school. [S68/3/1 25.8.1937] He received a month in prison for the assault and two weeks for being drunk and disorderly.
Another family sent their boy to Tinkers Farm School in “drain-pipe” jeans, and then involved solicitors and the papers when the Head Teacher suspended him:
“The Father wrote a letter containing false accusations and threatening to see his solicitor and write to the press.” [S200/1 30.9.58 ]
Eventually the school won the battle, but not before involving the school board:
“9.00 am “B’ham Mail telephoned re Woodward story.
9.30 Mr Jarratt SE Branch rang up for my version of the case. Suggested that an officer from Bye-laws should resit with Mr Woodward + reason with his and get the boy to school – if necessary unconditionally. Mr Woodward agreed to send his boy to school in ‘drain-pipes’ on Friday 3/10/58, and put him in normal clothing on Monday.” [S200/1 2.10.58]
The theoretical involvement of parents was therefore important, but sometimes their actual involvement left children away from classes they should have been benefiting from.
To see the related tweets click here.