Dress Code: Are some parents just too busy to dress kids for school?

BHS school uniformBHS school uniform
BHS school uniform
In a week in which a primary school head blasted parents for not dressing children properly,Neil Hudson asks if modern parents just too busy?

For parents everywhere, getting the children ready for school in a morning is probably one of those tasks that, if they could get out of, they would. The prospect of having to wrestle with miniature versions of yourself and get them washed, fed and into the correct clothes is a job in itself.

Never mind the fact many parents then head out for a full day at work in the knowledge that even after their working day is done, there are still numerous after school clubs to ferry the little ones to.

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Sometimes, it can seem never ending and this week, one headteacher at a school in Yeovil, Somerset, blasted parents for sending children to school “dirty, unkempt and not in appropriate school uniform.”

In an open letter to parents on the school’s website, Judith Barrett even accused some parents of staying in bed and letting their children get themselves ready.

Here in Yorkshire, Ian Stevenson, the regional secretary of the National Union of Teachers for the Yorkshire region, said he believed such problems had their roots in social deprivation and were best addressed on a more personal level.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, he said: “I think problems such as this are caused by high levels of deprivation and poverty. I don’t think parents ever want to be in such a situation. In this particular case I think it would probably more useful to address such issues on a case by case basis.”

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He went on: “I’ve not heard of anything similar in this area, apart from some time ago children at a school in Bradford who were found to be going to school without breakfast.

“I think we have to be aware that the UK has the largest number of food banks since the end of the Second World War and that the reality is some families are finding it hard to feed their children and at the same time to cloth them.

“These problems are directly related to poverty and lack of employment and if that is happening, it’s a problem we need to address.”

But poverty and unemployment may not be the only causes. Modern lifestyles, with their myriad of calls for our attention, mean we have less free time than ever before, so could it be that parents need to change their behaviours as well?

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Dr Steve Taylor, author of Waking From Sleep: Why Awakening Experiences Occur and How to Make them Permanent, who lectures in health and social sciences at Leeds Beckett University, is an expert in mindfulness.

He said: “One of the paradoxes of the modern way of life is we have all this technology and the way it was sold to us was that it would give us all more time. Of course, the reality is, we have far less time.

“Responding to texts and emails takes up an enormous amount of our time. Even our enterainment these days takes up a lot of time, just because there’s so much of it.

“Things like mobile phones and tablets were not around 20 years ago and so people, in general, had more time.”

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Dr Taylor, who does not own a smartphone, said there was hope for hard-pushed parents.

“You can easily make time for yourself, by meditating for 20 minutes or going for a walk or a run. It’s really important to take time out from your demands. To begin with, it may seem to make you worse off but this is about enabling you to relax. You could even do it while you are ironing or doing something like that.”

He added: “Being mindful is not something you can do while you are doing things such as texting or on the computer, you need to take time out.

“Ironically, the more we rush these days, the less we seem to be able to catch up.”