Parents’ evenings aren’t what they used to be.
Back in the day, it was a cosy five-minute appointment with your child’s reception class teacher.
These warm and fuzzy chats took place around tiny bits of classroom furniture which resembled something out of Sylvanian Families. The topic of conversation centred around how they were settling in, if they were making new friends and if they managed to get through a whole week without soiling themselves.
Fast forward a few years to high school parents’ evenings. These felt like an episode of The Crystal Maze, set in an abandoned prison with your child acting as your guide, sprinting around endless corridors for brief, pointless appointments with stressed-out teachers who taught so many kids, they could barely remember the name of yours. If you thought your high school was grim, believe me it was like Hogwarts compared to the joyless, austerity exam factories many have become, with kids being taught how to pass GCSEs to boost the school’s position in some meaningless league tables.
Anyhow, these days parents’ evenings for daughter #2 require a 120-mile round trip and a day off work to meet one of her tutors at LIPA Sixth Form, Liverpool. To say she’s enjoying her diploma in performing and production arts would be an understatement on a par with me saying I quite enjoyed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s injury-time winner for Man Utd in the Champions League Final in 1999.
It’s hard work for her but every day is like Christmas. And from our thorough 10-minute chat with the professional actor whose face seemed familiar, they feel the same way about her.
It was illuminating to listen to someone who really knows what they’re talking about. He gave daughter #2 very specific, career-orientated advice and congratulated her on her talent and work ethic. While we daren’t dream of seeing her on a red carpet anytime soon, they reckon she’s only shown a glimmer of her true potential, has a rare talent for performance and has a good career ahead of her. After that, the trip up a pitch-black M6 didn’t seem so bad.