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Strike out

The misery of parents faced with work-shy, striking teachers

Hot House

This article is taken from the April 2023 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

Incensed over teachers’ strikes. Literally. Cannot believe that after shelling out for all three kids to attend different private schools the staff at Hector’s and Lyra’s have jumped on the union bandwagon and are striking. I mean, come on!

I know, I know, the insane fees are no indication of staff salaries. But the amount the teachers get from parents in John Lewis vouchers is not just in line with inflation rates, it’s like a whole currency of its own.

Who are these teachers? All bloody childless women under 30

And let’s be real here. Who are these teachers? All bloody childless women under 30. What do they actually need to buy, beyond a few Zara dresses for parents’ evenings and a gallon of Prosecco every Friday after school? They don’t even have to buy lunch, FFS! At least Hector’s class teacher had the decency to avoid eye contact when I picked him up the other day. It was actually the first time I’ve picked him up this year, TBF. I only made the effort so that I could ask the head what the hell she’s thinking giving the staff the day off. Or that was the plan, anyway.

Obviously when I found myself in her office, an hour before pick-up, I bottled it. So after the briefest enquiry into whether the strikes would genuinely be going ahead, we moved on to discussing Hector’s various difficulties at length. She left looking confused, and suggested that next time I speak to the SENCO (special ed needs coordinator) or an ed psych (been there, done that).

So that was a great use of an afternoon. Slightly less surprised that Lyra’s school is shutting shop, being a bloody alternative temple to “gifted and talented” kids. Remind me why we sent her there? Ah yes, because I was so pissed off she’d been rejected by St Paul’s that I couldn’t face slinking into South Hampstead with my tail between my legs. Surprised the teachers didn’t get the teens to make signs in Art, and join them on the picket line.

Minnie’s school, at least, being out in the shires and attended solely by aristo-addicts’ kids (think Bedales, minus social cachet) is oblivious to the whole thing and will thankfully continue to screw up our children with no interruption to normal service.

In a word, it was like a horrific flashback to lockdown home schooling, but with IRL interiors competition

Did I tell you about my latest dawn panic? That boarding has instilled a late-onset avoidant attachment style in Minnie? Will thought his riposte “it’s called puberty” was his best joke ever. Anyway, another time.

Back to the strikes, the really shocking thing was the parental response at Hecky’s school. It started with one insane US soccer-mom announcing on the parents WhatsApp group she was going to be running a maths session at their house for the first strike day, which started a horrific chain reaction. First our resident tech giant alpha mom proposed “a coding circle”, then a neuro-surgeon dad offered a science club.

Then the arty parents realised that pride was at stake, so the 70-year-old Turner Prize-winning dad (fourth marriage, third set of kids) pulled rank by offering an art class in his studio.

A Grammy award-winner raised stakes further — with a whole class studio sesh. Which meant the celebrity chef had to invite everyone to “food technology” in his actual kitchen the following strike day. Even the B-list actress caught on and promised “drama and yoga in our little garden”.

In a word, it was like a horrific flashback to lockdown home schooling, but with IRL interiors competition on top — plus we had to schlep round half of Hampstead getting to these goddam “lessons”. Yay. #thankyouteachers #prayerhandsemoji

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