Dispute Resolution

Disputes between parents and school

Individual issues between parents and the school or a teacher are private matters and should be dealt with privately.  They are not matters for the whole P&F. 

Most children, at some time in their school life, will come home with a story about being wronged by a teacher in some way. The child comes home, is upset by what has happened and repeats the story to you and, as a parent, you immediately begin to ask questions. How could this person do this to your child? My child would not do that. Often we are quite indignant about what has occurred. When morning comes we have calmed down and begin to think more rationally about this ‘huge’ problem in your child’s life. We begin to think that there may be another side to the story and their usually is.

What happens when you have a genuine concern? How do we go about dealing with it? What is the correct procedure for having your concerns answered.

Most schools have a policy or procedure in place and parents should be familiar with these procedures and usually this information is accessible for parents. Legislation now requires that on an annual basis all policies have to be listed on a school’s website so that the school community has access to them. These policies are put in place for a reason and make dealing with issues fairer for everyone.

The first thing you should do is to sit down and write out your concerns. Have a look at what you have written and then make an appointment to see your child’s teacher or whoever the person concerned is. If, on review, you still have the same concerns, follow the procedures as set out at your school.  Do not just ‘turn up’ at the classroom door while you are emotional or angry and proceed to try to deal with the problem while the teacher has a classroom full of students. This is unfair to them and yourself as they will not be able to give you their full attention and also unfair to the students who should have the attention of their teacher.

Sometimes, as parents, we can become emotional when dealing with issues to do with our children. When the time comes for the appointment it is important to remember that you have only heard one side of the story and there is always another side so it is important to remain calm and give the teacher the opportunity to discuss the issue as they see it. When you get there remember to deal with the problem, not attack the person.

It is important to remember that teachers are human too and both students and teachers deserve to be treated with respect.

If, after this meeting you still have the same concerns, then inform the person that you are not satisfied and will be making an appointment with either the principal or appropriate person at your school. One of the most important things you can do is not to gossip or discuss the issue with all and sundry as this often will blow things out of all proportion and hinder, not help in solving the problem.

For the sake of your child it is important to deal with any concern quickly and quietly – not discuss it for weeks on end over the dinner table in front of the child and more importantly, try not to be critical of the teacher in front of your child, especially when you don’t have all the facts and the child has to go back to school each day and face this person.

If after speaking to the principal or other appropriate person you are still not satisfied then inform the person of that and you then can approach the appropriate person at your Arch/diocesan Catholic Education office. These would usually be a school supervisor or someone with a similar title. Make an appointment to meet with this person and again you must be prepared and have factual statements to make and at all times remain calm.

If you are still not satisfied then the next person is the Arch/Diocesan Director. Again you will need to write a letter or make an appointment to speak with them. Present your issue again in clear manner.

Remember you will not always get the answer that you are looking for as there may be many other issues to consider – some of which you will be unaware and still remembering that there are two sides to every story and yours may not always be the right one even if you believe that it is. 

Between parents – within P&F

If conflict arises between parents about a P&F related matter then the issue needs to be resolved as quickly as possible. 

All parents should keep in mind that they are there for the good of the students in the school and as members of the P & F they must abide by the decisions of the meeting.

These decisions should be made after fair discussion preferably using the consensus decision making process. See Conduct at Meetings.

Remember, other people, including the children, see our behaviour. As parents we need to set a good examp

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