Leighton Buzzard headteacher's message about 'impossible' home-schooling demands strikes a chord with struggling parents across the country

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At a time when parents are struggling to meet home-schooling demands, one headteacher’s advice to parents has gone viral after he told families to choose mental wellbeing over anything else.

The letter, which was gratefully received by parents from Leedon Lower School in Leighton Buzzard was soon shared online, and has attracted comment by hundreds of parents across the country praising the advice.

Leedon's headteacher Richard Benson, explained in his letter: “What our parents and carers have been asked to do over the last couple of weeks has been an impossible task. I want parents and carers to understand that it’s not hard because they are doing it wrong. It’s hard because it’s too much.”

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The letter tells parents and carers not to “feel guilty if something gets missed. Share a book, watch a film, bake a cake, have a nap! If you have to choose, because at some point you will, choose being together.

Richard BensonRichard Benson
Richard Benson

"Choose playing a game over arguing about schoolwork. Choose teaching your child how to make a cheese sandwich rather than feeling frustrated that they aren’t helping. Choose laughing, cuddling and reminding the children that they are safe.”

He also said: “If you feel yourself getting stressed (because you will), lower your expectations where you can and ask for help. We are in this together to stay well. That means mentally well too.”

Sarah Arkle, the parent who first shared the letter online for others to see, said: “I would never normally share a letter on Facebook but every conversation I have had with anyone who is a parent has been about how hard they are finding this lockdown and I felt like people needed to see the letter as it really felt like the perfect wording and tone. The response has been so positive and parents are finding reassurance and comfort in knowing that none of us are finding this easy.”

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Comments from those who read the letter online included: “I really needed this, I needed to hear that it is so hard and that it is ok” and “Even though it’s better than last time, it’s still the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I feel total pressure to be there and do my job, be a good mum and wife and I live for Fridays when I don’t have the work pressure. What an absolutely amazing letter and wonderful head. Good luck. We can do this.”

Commenting on the success of the message, Richard said: “I didn’t expect the letter to go beyond the families of our children at Leedon Lower School, and I’m delighted that it has struck a chord with so many parents across the country.

"I put together the letter by using quotes from other inspirational figures and my own personal thoughts as a way of helping people process what we are currently being asked to do. I think the timing may have helped – with the letter landing on Blue Monday and the beginning of the third week of home-schooling, this sort of message that was desperately needed. We have been inundated with thank you messages from parents and carers. It’s been quite something.”

The full letter text:

Dear Parents and Carers of Leedon Lower School,

Well, we have reached the end of week two! At school we have been so impressed with all the work the children have shared on seesaw, the engagement with Zoom teaching and the numbers taking part in Benson Bingo!

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What you as parents and carers have been asked to do over the last couple of weeks is an impossible task. There is a reason that we are either working parents, part-time working parents or stay at home parents. Working, parenting and teaching are three very different jobs and CANNOT be done at the same time.

It is not hard because you are doing it wrong. It’s hard because it’s too much. Remember that. Just do the best you can! Engage with what you can, when you can and don’t feel guilty if somethings get missed. Find what works best for you and your family during these next few weeks.

Share a book, watch a film, bake a cake, have a nap! If you have to choose, because at some point you will, choose being together. Choose playing a game over arguing about schoolwork. Choose teaching your child how to make a cheese sandwich rather than feeling frustrated that they aren’t helping. Choose laughing, cuddling and reminding the children that they are safe.

If you feel yourself getting stressed (because you will), lower your expectations where you can and ask for help. We are in this together to stay well. That means mentally well too.

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We are trying to do something different and exciting each week. Next week we will be having a Year Group Animal Assembly each day at 2.30pm, starting with Reception on Monday. Children can bring a pet, or a cuddly toy and Mr Benson will host with a story.

Siblings are free to join the same assembly. Probably last 15 minutes, but working with children and animals, who knows?? (details will be sent out next week for joining via text and email)

Kind regards and thank you for your continued support. Mr Richard Benson, Head Teacher.