A mother has slammed her son's school for failing to communicate with parents about a controversial piece of work the pupils were working on. But is it down to the school to communicate such things to parents or should there be better lines of communication between children and their parents.
Let me lay out the facts for you. It is 14-year-old Wesley Walker's bedtime. He goes to say goodnight to his mother and at the same time hands her a piece of paper. He then goes up to bed.
His mother, Vicki Walker, reads what is written on the piece of paper and immediately feels sick to the stomach.
The note begins, Dear Mum, and continues along the lines of assuring his mother he loves her, how he would like bright colours at his funeral and how he would like his possessions divided up. He says do not be sad. He has gone to be with nan and grandad.
A distraught Mrs Walker bolts up the stairs to Wesley's bedroom fearing she is going to find him hanging from the ceiling.
She believes the note he handed her is a suicide note. She is relieved, to say the least, that Wesley is fine and well, if a little bit startled, lying in his bed.
It emerges that Wesley's note is a piece of school work which he was asked to produce for his creative arts class. The teacher set the class the task of imagining they were dying of a terminal illness and to pay tribute to their loved ones.
Mrs Walker has lashed out at the school saying they should have alerted parents about what their children were doing at school ahead of them bringing this piece of work home.
She is demanding an apology from the school and has sold her story to the newspapers to expose the school's actions.
I think it is completely understandable how Mrs Walker reacted initially. When faced with such a note I'm sure all mums would be led initially by their emotions rather than allowing common-sense to kick in. Any mum would probably have done the same and stormed up the stairs to see if their child was okay.
It is at this point that the problems kick in for me. Do I think the school were wrong to set such a topic in their creative arts class. At first I thought absolutely, but it is Wesley's age which causes me to do an about turn on this gut decision. I feel it is right that children of this age do confront such important and inevitable life issues as death and the project has an admirable aim, for the children to show their love for their parents.
Ideally, the subject matter could have been slightly different in order to achieve similar aims. I think it could be a little upsetting for some children to have to think about their own death at a young age and I feel the subject of a terminal illness should be dealt with perhaps a little more gently.
However, over all I feel it would be wrong to lambaste a school for pushing the boundaries.
Mrs Walker is chiefly upset the school did not think to inform the parents about this project. Well maybe. However, I believe the real breakdown in communication is between Wesley and his mother. There appears to be no real dialogue between the pair about what Wesley is getting up to at school. This can be difficult to do when it comes to teenagers but that doesn't mean parents should give up trying to find out.
Then there is the role of Wesley himself in this. Wesley admits in his letter that he can be a pain at times and I think this is quite revealing. I think he is a bit of a trouble maker. I can't help thinking he was being rather provocative in handing his mother this note without an explanation. I think it would be naive to think Wesley didn't know what kind of reaction he would get.