Sarah Smith says money isn't the issue, if kids are coming to school dirty, the parents are just lazy.
Sarah Smith says money isn't the issue, if kids are coming to school dirty, the parents are just lazy.

Teacher slams kids’ ‘lazy’ parents

PARENTS aren't too poor to wash their children's clothes - they're too lazy.

That's the verdict of British former teacher Sarah Smith, after it was revealed a primary in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was planning to install a washing machine on-site because parents can't afford to wash pupils' uniforms.

When I was training to be a teacher my tutor said he always manage to include some painting during the day - because it gave him the opportunity to discretely wash the hands of a seven-year-old boy who always came to school dirty.

Within months of starting teaching I'd bought my first bumper packet of baby wipes so I didn't have to look at the dried crusty food round children's mouths as I listened to them read.

I'd make it into a joke by saying I couldn't concentrate on what they were saying as I was wondering what they'd had for breakfast.

One eight-year old girl blamed the fact her parents were still in bed when she left for school.

But I never managed to concoct a reason to clean the ears of a seven-year-old boy which looked like the inside of a plant pot.

A show of hands confirmed baths, or even showers, before a regular bedtime were rare.

And four years after I left the profession, it seems the situation has become worse with many of my friends who are still teaching explaining they are having to spend their own money on things like deodorant and sanitary towels for pupils.

Some families do struggle to make ends meet but I believe it's not a question of cash but attitude.

Hardship is nothing new.

In the 1980s I was brought up by a hard-up single mum whose pride made her determined my brother and I looked clean and smart when we went to school.

We weren't allowed to leave the house before she checked our hands and faces to make sure we looked presentable. Any grubby marks would be removed with the vigorous rubbing of mum spit on the corner of a hanky.

Sarah says many of her friends who are still teacher have to buy items like deodorant and sanitary towels for students with their own money.
Sarah says many of her friends who are still teacher have to buy items like deodorant and sanitary towels for students with their own money.

On school nights my mum would lay out my school uniform on my bed to sponge off any marks so it was ready for the next day so I didn't feel the parents of my pupils had much of an excuse when their kids came to school with the same stains on their clothes day after day.

When my mum's washing machine broke she hand washed our shirts by scrubbing them with a bar of soap for a month before she could afford to get it fixed.

I remember one boy I taught, whose parents both had well paid jobs, turning up at school after the weekend wearing his unwashed uniform and told me his mum and dad were too busy to sort it out so he'd had to dig it back out of the washing basket that Monday morning.

Another child said he'd fallen asleep on the sofa so was wearing the day before's clothes.

When I discussed this with an old colleague she said her technique was to 'lose' some of the dirty clothing while the children were doing PE then replace it with something clean from the lost property box, which she'd secretly raid in order to take uniforms home to wash.

Time and again I'd find myself making up for some parent's shortfalls. I'd be the one telling a sloppy mum I'd seen a head lice crawling across her daughter's forehead. I'd be the one reminding a dad, as he fiddled with his smartphone, that it was better for his child to come to school wearing socks on such a wintery day and supermarkets sold very affordable pairs.

One Christmas I bought each of the seven and eight-year-olds in my class aeroplane shaped toothbrushes as a present as their teeth were so neglected it seemed the most appropriate gift.

And it seems things are getting worse - at the end of May a YouGov poll revealed that hours of teaching time is being lost as four and five-year-olds are turning up at school unable to wipe their own bottoms.

Two-thirds of teachers said they'd seen an increase in the number of young children who didn't know how to clean themselves after they'd been to the toilet.

Teaching children to wipe their bums is something parents should be doing when the kids are two years olds rather than leaving it teachers to instruct them at school. Again, it's not such a big ask.

Now I feel it is time for schools to say enough is enough and make a stand by pushing some of the responsibility back onto parents. By caving in to lazy parenting schools spend too much time nursemaiding rather than educating which lets down a whole generation of kids.

I don't agree with the schools who think it is necessary to get on-site washing machines so they can clean the kids' clothes as it doesn't provide parents with an incentive to get their act together. I think a better approach would be to show some backbone and write letters home to parents telling them they should be the ones doing the parenting, not the school.

Schools are failing us by not insisting parents take more responsibility. Establishing a simple routine in order to keep clean and be ready for school isn't difficult. After all, parents have 190 school days a year to get into the habit.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and was republished here with permission.

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