Head teacher criticises children and parents over bad behaviour

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Media captionLouise McGowan says parents undermine teachers attempts at discipline

A head teacher has criticised children for "treating life like a soap opera", and parents for screaming at staff.

Louise McGowan, of Walderslade Girls' in Kent, says discipline has been eroded by "a small but loud minority".

After an "unprecedented five exclusions" this year, a letter was sent to parents warning that the school was toughening up on bad behaviour.

She is calling for stronger parental support, and more head teachers to take a similar stance across the country.

Speaking to the BBC Mrs McGowan, a mum-of-four herself, said about 5% of the 900 girls were routinely breaking the rules and there had been a rise in reports of anti-social behaviour involving their pupils outside school.

Image caption The letter criticised both children and parents over poor discipline

She said the problems always seemed to involve mobile phones and social media, and often parents empowered the child's bad behaviour, supporting them even when faced with evidence of misconduct.

"When children know they're going to get into trouble some call home, trying to exonerate themselves, and we end up with a furious parent outside the school.

"The relationship and trust between schools and parents is breaking down. By screaming at teachers, parents are not instilling respect or right from wrong in their own children," she said.

While she stressed the school had a calm environment and most pupils were eager to learn, Mrs McGowan said "some very angry children" ruined lessons for the others.

"They treat life like a soap opera," she added, "they seem to enjoy conflict."

Image caption Walderslade Girls' School, Kent

She described how weekend "dramas" were escalated on social media and blew up at school, with dozens of pupils becoming involved.

"We're even seeing parents arguing with each other online, and fuelling arguments between children.

"It's shocking, we're living in very bizarre times.

"A good education goes hand in hand with discipline, you need both in adulthood, and I hope other head teachers speak up."

A strict "no excuses" behavioural policy was being drawn up and implemented by the school.

Mrs McGowan, who is recovering from a recent kidney operation, is leaving at the end of the school year having served there for five years.

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