Last time he went on his own we recieved a phone call that afternoon from the school saying that they had recieved a complaint from a parent that he had cycled alone. Aggie fielded the call, which is lucky, as he was very polite about it. He explained that it was a one off because I was ill. The school said that they have a rule that children should not cycle alone until they have their cycling profiency (min age 10 round here), and he said that's OK. He also said that it wouldn't happen again. The school suggested that if he did have to come to school on hi own again we should send him in a taxi!
I wasn't very impressed when he told me & said it would undoubtedly happen again! If I'm ill again, or more likely, if the girls are sick, I am not going to drag them out in the freezing cold/rain unecessarily - and accompanying Mstr A while he cycles to school is unecessary imo. I also pointed out that how my child gets to school is parental choice, and the school has absolutely no say in it anyway. they have no responsibility for him until he enters the school gates, and no right to tell him or me when is is able to go out alone. I am absolutely appalled at the suggestion of sending him 1 mile to school in a Taxi, which is immoral, unethical, unsafe and expensive! Immoral because I am trying to teach him about the environment & healthy living, unethical because the school has said they want to reduce the number of children being driven to school, and have initiatives to encouage children to walk. Unsafe because taxi drivers are not CRB checked, do not have to use child seats, and are statistically more likely to be criminals than pretty much any other profession. I have no idea how much it would cost to send him in a taxi, but it's definitely more than we can afford!
In fact the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. "A parent had complained"? Since when do schools pass on complaints about parenting choices to other parents? If they were honestly concerned about his safety or wellbeing, they sould pass on their concerns to social services! If I can complain about parenting techniques seen during the school run, i think the things that affect all the kids are slightly more important! For example, parents who chain smoke while walking to/from school, and/or waiting outside the school gates. Or indeed, the ones who insist on driving 1/2 mile each way every day, causing major traffic problems. How about the parents who send their kids to school with a packet of crisps and a couple of chocolate biscuits for lunch - those kids cause chaos with bad behaviour every day. Maybe I should complain next time I see a child arrive at school wearing Lelli Kelly shoes - causing scores of screams from every other girl in the playground. In fact there is no shortage of things to "complain" about in your average state school. We do not all parent our kids the same way! What a sad world it would be if we did!
So this morning, when I sent him off on his scooter (see, as Aggie had said he wouldn't cycle alone again, I sent him on his scooter instead) I was half expecting him to be told it's not allowed & had primed him to answer any complaint made to him with "my mum says it's ok, and it's up to her", but apperently the parent(s) were too scared to say anything to a 6 year old, and complained to the school again. They phoned this afternoon - and got to speak to me this time:-) The moment he said "Mstr A travelled to school alone this morning" I launched into a spiel about parental choice & the school minding their own business. He did accept that it is parental choice, and pointed out the school rule about cycling alone. I immediately came back that he didn't cycle, which seemed to take him aback a bit, so obviously the complaints were not very coherant (truthful), although that rule was completely unenforcable! I also pointed out that he's in year 2 (top infants to us oldies) - that's not a baby! When I was his age, not only did I walk much further to school each day - over a main road too - but I also took my little sisters there and back and my baby brother home from nursery. And the country is a hell of a lot safer now that then (check the stats on ROSPA), and here than there. He finished the call by saying he did not agree year 2 is old enough to come to school alone. I finished by saying it would happen again - not a lot, but definitely occasionally.
Apparently some of the parents complaining were from the old school, which is even worse!
I am considering writing an open letter for the schools to hand out to any parent who complains again. Although I don't really see why I have to justify my parenting to people who are too scared/lazy to speak to me myself, rather than hide behind the school!