In loco parentis…

At least once a week there is someone on the radio talking about some issue or another and saying that part of the solution to the particular problem they are discussing is to educate children about it. If schools responded to each of these requests the curriculum would be one long PSHE lesson with no time for any academic subjects!

In general, we would expect children to learn from their parents how to cope in the real world – things like personal finance, personal safety, health (physical, mental, sexual), diet, radicalisation, respect, tolerance, resilience etc.  Many families do not provide this for their children, so it falls on schools and teachers to do so.  To a great extent, teaching about these topics in isolation is not enough – children have to see them modelled to really understand their importance.

This is why the ethos of schools is important.  Teachers act in loco parentis and while children are at school teachers and other pupils are effectively their family.  As well as educating them, schools have to teach children the skills and knowledge they need for life.  As well as the PSHE lessons, assemblies and formtime, staff can do this in their conversations (with parents as well as pupils) and by briefly exploring relevant issues which arise in lessons.

Acting as default parents as well as teachers makes big demands on school staff, but it is part of the moral purpose of teaching.

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