The injustice of school

Books and stationary on a school desk


Only son is on an anti-school campaign. He still can’t get to grips with the huge injustice that is time spent in the classroom. “We just sit there working all day and the teachers watch us. They don’t do anything. It is so unfair, mum,” he says regularly.

Added to that is the fact that he has to do Spanish club every Monday lunchtime. “Can I just not go, mum?” he asks all weekend. I explain to him every weekend that I have paid for the whole term which means attendance is compulsory and in any event it is fun, fun, fun and it is important to be able to speak another language, plus half his family speak Spanish. Only son is not convinced. He has tolerated Spanish club for the last few weeks on the basis that they are learning the colours which means there has been a lot of colouring. “It was REALLY boring today, mum,” he said on Monday. “No colouring at all.”

I informed only son that developing his colouring skills is not the main aim of Spanish club and that he could use his Spanish knowledge to speak to daughter two’s Spanish exchange who is arriving this week. “Hmm, mum, I think this is going to be a bit of an issue,” said only son. Oh dear. Daughter two is already dreading the whole week – she says her Spanish exchange doesn’t speak at all, eats mainly meat [daughter two is a committed vegan] and that they have nothing in common at all. It could be a long week.

I was saying to only son the other day that I was feeling a bit guilty that I was not spending enough time with him because I have been reading too much stuff about politics recently. I promised to drag myself away from the computer and play some football with him. “It’s not your fault, mum,” said only son. “That’s what school does. It literally stops parents from spending time with their children.”

He only has around 10 years of school to go, including SATs, GCSEs and other delights. My sales pitch on the benefits of school is going to have to move up several notches.

Meanwhile daughter three is due back tonight – two hours after the Spanish exchange arrives. Daughter three has been much missed, even the hormonal tantrums. We wait with trepidation to see if she has been able to remain a vegetarian in the interim. There are bets on her having succumbed to a bit of chicken since she had to have packed lunches every day and she doesn’t like cheese.

She will at least come home to a semi-tidy house in anticipation of the Spanish exchange. I’ve thrown out lots of paper and I think the house looks very tidy. However, I am comparing it with what it looked like before…

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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