Education Qandary: 'Our seven-year-old's teacher resents her as she is bright and precocious. What can we do?'

Hilary's advice

This needs sorting out. No child should be unhappy at school, but first try to work out exactly what you are dealing with. Do you know precisely why she is unhappy? Or is it just your assumption that this teacher is putting her down?

It could well be that your daughter is unlucky enough to have a mean-spirited teacher who feels threatened by her desire to forge ahead. There are plenty of them out there, and their crabbed pronouncements blight too many young lives.

Equally – and I'm sorry to be so blunt – it could be that your daughter is very irritating. It is not uncommon for doting parents to find evidence for their child's emerging brilliance in every utterance, and a child used to this kind of adoration can be a real pain.

Think hard about what the truth is, then take action. Make an appointment to see the teacher and explain quietly but firmly that your child is unhappy and why you think that is. Ask about the school's policy on gifted children, and whether your daughter can be given advanced work to stretch her. If she has been hurt by things the teacher has said, explain that too. Avoid angry accusations: they will only make things worse. Go as a couple and agree before that if one of you starts to get upset, the other will take over. At the end of the meeting, ask for a follow-up appointment so you can review how things are going.

Readers' advice

Children learn what they want to learn, when they are ready for it. They are not designed to learn at the same speed as everyone else. It is very hard, if not impossible, for one teacher, however well intentioned and experienced, to meet the needs of each and every child in a class of 30. Increasing numbers of parents are withdrawing their children from mainstream education for just the reasons you mention and either sending them to Montessori or Steiner schools or home-educating them.

Home-schooling is an increasingly popular option and it sounds as though your daughter would flourish with such an approach. And don't buy the "she'll miss out on socialisation" argument. The home-educated children I know are the most socialised I have met, much more at ease with people of all ages.

Karen Rodgers, Cambridge

My sister-in-law, who teaches at a secondary school in East Anglia, says that when she goes round the feeder primary schools, the staff there are now as likely to be giving her information about "difficult" parents as they are about particular children's needs. Comments such as "handle with care", "don't meet them on your own" or "they'll be on your back from day one" are sadly common currency.

Rosemary Slater, London W5

If this teacher does not change, take it up with the head and the governors. Bright children are too often squashed by an education system that believes in mediocrity.

Kenneth Tevers, Leeds

Next Week's Quandary

Dear Hilary, Why do we allow youth projects that teach youngsters things such as how to record violent rap songs? Surely such activities just condone bad behaviour? Shouldn't our taxes be going towards projects that try to lift young people up from the street and give them a new sense of purpose in life?

Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to Please include your postal address on your message. Readers whose replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th Edition. Previous quandaries can be found on, where they can be searched by topic.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
books...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower