"They are simple, but they carry a really important message"

It is expected that a school will tell its pupils what to do. After all, it is the role of a teacher to educate a child and prepare them for adult life.

Less expected, however, is that the parents should be given instructions on how to behave.

But that is what has happened at a primary school in north-east England.

Parents of children at St Joseph's RC Primary School in Longlands, Middlesbrough are now being told to “greet your child with a smile not a mobile.”

The signs have been placed at three entrances to the school in the hope of making parents think twice about mindlessly scrolling through their social media newsfeeds whilst waiting to pick up their child.

According to head-teacher Elizabeth King, the decision to erect the signs was not in fact to tackle any existing problem, but rather just to encourage families to talk to one another at the end of the day.

“We are always looking at ways to engage parents and we've got the signs at each entrance and at the foundation entrance,” King explained.

“They are simple, but they carry a really important message. We are trying to develop our speaking and listening in school and we thought it was a really simple way to get the message across.

“It wasn't an issue among our parents, it just emphasises that speaking and listening helps the children to have discussions.”

However rather than feel patronised and angry at being told how to parent their children, mums and dads have largely welcomed the signs.

“I think they need to be up because everyone picks their kids up on their phones. I’d like to think they’d make a difference,” said mother Danielle Parker.

“I think it’s great. It’s about time,” said Claire Wilks, whose child is in the school’s nursery.

Another parent Danielle Savage was also on board with the initiative: “I agree with it, it’s a good thing.

“But it only works if you’re having discussions all the time at home, not just when you’re collecting your child. That’s when it will make a difference.”

Not everyone has responded positively to the signs though, with one parent calling them “a bit daft.”

An anonymous parent of a year two pupil added: “I don’t see the point in the signs, I don’t think that many people use their phones anyway.”

As for the pupils themselves, it’s likely the majority will be fans.

“Why would kids want to see you on your mobile phones all the time?” asked pupil Lindan Bradley.

Quite. 

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