Parent progress evening

illustration showing mother and child walking home from school


“What is a parent progress evening?” I asked daughter two as it popped into my inbox the other day. “It sounds ominous and like something I might possibly flunk.” Daughter two, who was for some bizarre reason sporting a shower cap as a fashion accessory, explained to me that it was a pointless waste of time basically because it meant she would have to come with me and sit through it all rather than read the latest instalment in the Keith Richards autobiography she has been reading for the last month as a counterpoint to GCSE revision.

She is such a big fan that one of the kittens is now called Keith and he was living the rock n’ roll lifestyle the other night. Daughter one woke up in the night and thought a burglar had broken in, only to find Keith and his siblings sat on the sofa watching late-night telly, having worked out how to use the remote.

Anyway, daughter one reminded me that I had been to a previous parent progress evening way back in the mists of time and that it seemed to be all about getting the parents to make their children work harder. It didn’t sound like a fun evening out and entreaties to daughter two to work harder tend to fall on deaf ears. She knows how hard she has to work because she gets told every day by the teachers.

We spent part of the weekend looking at her post-GCSE options. She has decided she wants to do film studies and become a film director so we are starting from that and tracing back to what subjects she will need. Fortunately, not maths. Daughter one loathes maths, even though I have done my best to do a good sell on STEM subjects due to girls not taking them and it being vital that they do. I suggested “Algebra Club” at one point in a bid to get her to see the beauty of x + y = z, but she has resisted.

Only son is doing the Egyptians at the moment who were big on maths. He describes himself as the “maths god” of the family. It’s interesting that he is the only one to take to maths despite me trying to promote STEM to all the girls. Perhaps all my efforts have done is to promote rebellion. It’s not as if I am a bad role model for maths either. I did quite well at maths whereas my partner peaked at eight.

I did, however, ditch maths for languages fairly early on and maybe I am passing that message on subliminally. In any event, we will need the full panoply of skills in the future, topped off by the creativity to weave them together in ways that robots can’t.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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