The reception teacher

The other day, my younger son, daughter and I spotted my son’s reception teacher while we were in the car.

She couldn’t see or hear us, so we shouted really loudly.

“He went to the top grammar school! He’s going to study medicine! He’s one of the best long jumpers in the country!”

You know how reception teachers are supposed to be amazing and supportive? My son’s reception teacher wasn’t.

Because I made one fatal error. I knew my own child better than anybody else.

Yes, not a fatal error at all.

A few days before my now-18 year old son started school, we had a meeting with the reception teacher. She ran through all the stuff about the school that I already knew from having my elder son there. Then, as an afterthought, she asked me if there was anything she should know about my son.

So I told her the truth. That he was exceptionally intelligent.

And she wasn’t happy.

If I’d told her that he still wet his pants or couldn’t count to 10, she would have been all sweetness and light. But how dare I tell her that my own child was exceptionally intelligent?

But he was and he still is.

I’d always been led to believe that exceptional intelligence was a form of special need in itself. But the reception teacher didn’t agree.

Both his nursery and playgroup were very aware of his intelligence and worked hard to support him, to give him resources that were suitable for him and to ensure that he fitted in and didn’t feel in any way strange.

But the reception teacher didn’t want to know. At parents’ evening, she said to me in her most cutting voice: “We have other intelligent children, you know.”

And I knew they did. I never said they didn’t. But she’d simply asked if there was anything she needed to be aware of and I’d told her.

Every single one of his teachers after that was very aware of his intelligence and very supportive. Some were actually slightly in awe of him. His maths was at Level 4 (expected level for year 6) in year 2. He got Level 6 for both maths and English in his year 6 SATs – the level he should reach at the end of year 9.

We saw the reception teacher just before he got his A Level results, but if we’d seen her afterwards, I would have also shouted: “He got four A*s in his A Levels!”. If that’s not an indication of exceptional intelligence, I don’t know what is. And I genuinely knew he was that clever before he even started school.

While we were shouting in the car, we decided to shout at the male primary school teachers who had left him out of the school football team. They knew how clever was and of course clever kids can’t be good at sport, can they?!

(They totally can.)

So they left him out of the football team. A couple of years later, he was the top scorer in his entire league. Oh, and there’s the minor detail of his long jump too. Not football, but an indication of all-round sporting ability.

Anyway, he’s left school now. He’s going to study medicine. But I won’t ever forget the reception teacher’s complete short sightedness and inability to listen to a parent who knew her own child.

Teacher, Teacher and pupil, Library, Reception teacher

The reception teacher wasn’t as nice as this stock photo teacher

Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Ugh! That doesn’t sound like a great teacher at all. You must be so proud of your son and of course all of your other children, they are amazing at everything that they do. x

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    • Thank you! That is such a lovely thing to say. And you are very right about the teacher! x

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      • Oh well done you!!! I’m just picturing it and laughing at her turning every which way to see where the shouting was coming from! It’s mind boggling how some of these people become teachers isn’t it? E’s teacher spent the whole year telling me how awful his writing was….. he got As in his report for all subjects except writing and it was the first time I realised how I hadn’t focused on the positives because of her!

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        • That’s really awaful that E’s teacher did that. I think it’s a bit too early to be worrying about writing at E’s age. Well done, E! So glad he did so well in everything else.

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  2. wow I wonder how many children she crushed/did a disservice to in her career?
    DD2’s primary 1 teacher realised she had needs ( probably now be classed as special needs, no such thing nearly 40 yrs ago) and made her “special groups”, giving her group a name just like everybody else’s, and she was the only child in them. She was left-handed and wrote and read from the right side of the page and she allowed her to do that until she stopped doing it naturally, about half way through P2, so first 18 months of being at school.
    She also went on to uni and got a degree. Often wonder if things had been different what may have happened

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    • How lovely that her teacher did that for her and that she found her way in her own good time!
      Strangely, I suspect my son might have been one of the few crushed by this teacher. Everyone else thought she was the best thing since sliced bread. She gave up teaching a few years later, but I have friends who are still friends with her.

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