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Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by mychuck, Oct 5, 2012.
awful spelling, soz no specs
Thank you everyone for your honesty. Being a HT can be so lonely and you do feel as if it is just you. I was talking to a teacher today in my gym class and she said her HT broke down in tears this week - something she's never seen before. It was all down to aggressive parents. Parents think that they can talk to us in whatever way they chose. This poor HT was threatend with a call to OFSTED and the papers. The crime... the HT had told a child that 'croc' style shoes were not appropriate for school. But unfortunately there had also been a long list of other rude comments and abusive from other parents for her this week and it became too much.
I agree Thrupp that sometime the more middle class parent can be more demanding - some 'four by four' mothers just have too much time on their hands but I have also seen aggression in deprived areas.
I have looked at recent OFSTED reports (thanks Curly from another thread) and yes parentview is ruining some careers and schools. Anonymous b*tching by people who don't know what they are talking about and couldn't do the job if they tried. Parents know that by saying they will report us to OFSTED or the media, they will get the attention they don't deserve.
I am delighted that teachers on here have recognised that HTs are on your side (the majority of us are) and are going to say thanks if they've not said it before. My staff are delightful and very supportive but I have to walk a fine line about moaning to them too much. The weekend has been good so far - the sun is shining and I've recharged ready for the week ahead.
Once more into the breach... Have a good week everyone.
I know what the poster means about affluent areas being worse but over the last few years I've noticed an increasing number of complaints in my school which is in area of high deprivation (1st decile point) . Often it's parents who we've reached out to via various workshops, open days etc who we struggle to get to engage. Last week a 2 page rant arrived from a parent who complained that her daughter isn't making enough progress in reading (she's a y6 and the teacher hears her every day because her mum won't read with her- she also has an adult reading buddy) the parent was complaining that nothing had been done and she wasn't told about her daughter struggling with reading - fortunately I have Ieps which she's signed dating back to 2007 which clearly state she has reading difficulties. Her biggest beef seemed to be that the teacher had the audacity to approach her and ask her to read occasionally with her child. Apparently she's too busy (not working) and that's the teachers' job anyway.
reading this thread has brought tears to my eyes. Whilst knowing others are going through it too doesn't make me feel better, headship is a lonely job and it is easy to feel it is 'just me', 'just our parents' 'just our kids' when actually it is a sign of the times nationally.
didn't much feel like it, but drove out for the day yesterday - ate fish and chips by the river and spent time with Mr Crazylina. It doesn't take the issues and pressures away but it did give a little perspective and the autumn sunshine was beautiful.
Hope things pick up for everyone next week x
Just mulling over some of the most ridiculous stuff I've had complaints about over the years. Dog dirt on the park (not even near school) one of the pupil's poor behaviour in the supermarket (he was with his mum at the time), cyber bullying via text messages (at the weekend) pestering via phone calls (evenings and weekends) a child throwing snowballs on their street, parents parking selfishly, a child being told off and made to apologise for breaking another child's finger (that one led to the police having to come to my rescue) , rewarding children for good behaviour - apparently they should all be rewarded, allowing a child in reception to run with her shorts on inside out on sports day- I'd failed as a head because I hadn't noticed, allowing the use of scissors in school, allowing a child to paint outside, going outside to play on a cold day, putting a child into a class with a male teacher, "allowing" a male TA to work in nursery (apparently inappropriate) refusing to spend the school budget on private tuition for a child - who didn't need it anyway- because her mum couldn't afford it, "indoctrinating" children by teaching them about different cultures and taking them to a Gudwara, "allowing" a child to fall over twice in one week in the playground- apparently I was failing to safeguard them- social services were called... I could go on, at length. Got to laugh really. It's never dull, that's for sure. Chin up everyone- it'll soon be half term!
certainly have more pushy parents than I Curlygirl. I always enjoy the ridiculous
requests, or complaints. In 6 years I've only been shouted at two or three
times, and then apologised to afterwards. I always aim to help them, as
it builds trust and develops relationships. We want parents to use our school,
to heighten the awareness of education in the area and to lift their dire aspiration.
We are not run by parents, they do not pressure us, but we are pressured by the
Gov's expectations, even though we meet and beat them, I find the run up to
SATs really stressful, as every point counts, not the ramblings of parents.
have worked in and with middle class schools, nightmare, those parents can be
dreadful, and the governing bodies horrendous, that's pressure all the time,
for all.....hats off to those that lead those schools that contain and work with such bloody
awful families, with their spoild bratt spawn, who appreciate nothing and are
told nightly about lazy teachers and how it should be done by feckless foolish
In fact hats off to anyone who works within 200yrds of them......give me the top 1% deprevation any day of the week.....at least it's easier to spot the CP as it walks through the door!!!!!!
Yes thrupp - the 'leafy' schools are wonderful. Everyone of my parents can do it better than me and my team and they are fond of telling us so. Your right when you say they tell their children nightly how lazy teachers are.
Curly I can identify with all the things you had complaints about. Parents do have a hang up about dog dirt in the locality and somehow it is our fault - I know because it appears regularly on our questionnaire feedback.
Crazylina - I'm glad you had a good day out. My other half is very supportive and it can be hard for them because they get the moans and the stressed out partners at home.
Nearly half term
I'm a chair of govs in a small primary, and I'd like to think we thank our headteacher regularly. I don't envy him in the slightest - I'm sure in can feel pretty lonely, especially where there's no deputy. As governors we also get the parents complaining about every little thing. 'I'm sorry you feel that way, but the headteacher is responsible for the day to day running if the school' has become my stock phrase...
Assuming you're talking about incidents occuring between students at your school, frankly I think you have a responsibility to investigate bullying of this nature even if it doesn't occur during school time.
Really? When the children are in the care of their parents and none of it is happening in school time - I have to investigate?
Should I also be responsible for what they look at on the internet when they're at home?
What ever happened to parental responsibility?
FWIW I did speak to the children involved, rang all their parents to tell them what was happening and told them all that as it was happening outside school I had no power to stop it, but should it continue I would have no alternative but to call the police.
How do you know it isn't happening at school unless you investigate? I highly doubt that the students are mercilessly bullying each other at the weekends, but the moment they walk through the school gates the phones go away and everything is hunky dory. Much more typically it is incidents at school that fuel the rumour mills and gossip that lead to bullying both inside and outside of school. If a student who is being bullied has to come to school and encounter their bully, that is a clear issue. The school has a responsibility to investigate it, and take any necessary actions. For example, are these two students sitting next to each other in lessons?
No, unless what they are looking at on the internet at home impacts on the welfare and learning of themselves or others when they are at school.
You may want to look at this more positively and think that the school has a valuable role to play because it is in a position to mediate between students (or perhaps, parents) in a way that parents and students cannot mediate for themselves.
Clearly from the action you did take you have evidenced that you did have a useful contribution to make, and that you did have the ability to mediate between the two groups, and to propose further action if necessary. (i.e. ring the police.) As such I would certainly not classify the initial approach to you as 'ridiculous stuff to have complaints about.'
I think it's ridiculous stuff to have complaints about as it was outside school and primary age children should have sufficient supervision when using mobile devices (if they have them at all) to prevent such issues. If it happened to my 8 or 9 year old (unlikely as they wouldn't have the phone anyway) my response would be to take the phone off them.
The texting was outside school and instigated by older siblings, there were no issues in school between the pupils. it stopped. They just fight with each other on the street now. No doubt I should deal with that too, even though their parents are supposed to be looking after them.
It's very difficult to view it positively when a huge amount of my time is spent splitting up fighting parents and dealing with family feuds which have nothing to do with school.. The school is not a mediation service. Our role is to provide an education. Dealing with ineffective parenting, feuding adults and the police almost daily can get in the way of delivering a top quality education.
Facebook campaigns are our biggest problem at the moment, started by a few problem parents stirring it up. Unfortunately I think part of the problem has been down to the inexperienced head trying to placate parents too much and therefore not supporting other staff. (Not great for staff relations either.) Our school used to have an excellent rep, largely down to the previous head. It is a very deprived area with often the third generation of families attending the school. The old head was very caring and supportive of parents, but was also not scared of telling them when they were being ridiculous and suggesting they take their offspring elsewhere. Because the parents are the sort of people who tell it straight, they tend to respect us when we stand up to them, apart from the usual pill*cks you never placate. As the new head always placates, like all bullies they think they have won and so the parents behaviour has escalated.
Complaints I/we have had include:
Dog muck outside the gate (It was not our land and was actually fox poo so not easy to solve.)
Y1 child covered in mud (Told not to go near digging pit but immediately did.)
Daily parent to parent disputes that happened at their houses and cant we say something to the other parent(Who are the children here? Maybe they should just refrain from getting p*ssed every weekend then their mouths wouldnt run away with them.)
My child isnt progressing in reading. (Well read to them then.)
When told their child had lied about something told me their child never lies and accused me of lying about the child. Two seconds later when said child tried to take another child's teddy home and child swore it was theirs. Mum turned and said "How many times have I told you not to lie." I have to admit to raising a sarcastic eyebrow to mum at that one. Fortunately that parent took up the heads suggestion to move schools. The next day we got a phonecall from the head of a local school for some info about this "weirdo parent" that had turned up on her door. Boy did we laugh.
Not letting us take some kids to see those "****** terrorists." We were planning a visit to the mosque.
Moaning about being charged for the school meal we had given their child when they had a packed lunch.( sorry but we dont think a tub of cream and chocolate fingers to dip in it is a suitable packed lunch, neither is a can of fizzy pop and a yorkie bar.)
When a teacher had told parents at the beginning of the year that they would set homework every week and then missed the odd week, dad declared a breach of contract and that as a solicitor he would be within his rights to sue! That was a leafy area not surprisingly. The advantage of leafy areas is that when parents behave like complete kn*bs like him, the nicer parents are more likely to stand up for you and support you. With a few well placed words about the teachers hurt and damage to staff parent relationships, this parent ended up being practically ostracised by the other parents.
It was my fault their child had lost their third jumper that week. I must know which is theirs because it is the only one without a name on it! (If only, maybe I should start sewing them into their jumpers as well as writing the names in for them at the beginning of the year.)
Your school sounds like mine! (Except I don't let the parents bully the staff like your head seems to).
I have had a complaint today about instructing two classes of children to use different sets of stairs (this was for health and safety reasons) apparently it's segregation. Give me strength!
LOL. You have to laugh! Otherwise you'd cry.
My old head sometimes used to nod, look puzzled and say " I didnt think about that thank you for pointing that out, this is the problem perhaps you could help suggest something else," all said with a voice suggesting she thought the parent had just had the most brilliant insight. Either the parent would suggest other things that could be shot down, until agreeing that the head was right after all or would get all flustered and repeat how they still didnt agree with it before shooting out the door with their tail between their legs.
I like that approach. I often use the line "what would you like me to do about it?" Sometimes they can't actually say (so they really just fancied a moan) sometimes they respond with "I want it sorting" or something similar. When I ask them to suggest how it might be sorted, they usually can't say.
When parents start to act in groups and a bit of an attack style seems to be emerging I think schools should shut down somewhat. Stop the emails if they are intrusive. Go back to lining up if having parents in class causes friction. Take action. Focusing on learning can not happen in a traumatic situation. One head I know told parents to leave all children at the gate as there were too many parent issues eg smoking and swearing. Office staff should protect Heads by insisting on appointments and also insisting on knowing what the meeting is for or saying there will be no meeting. Do not be available every day. They need to see if a meeting with the Teacher has taken place or deputy/team/ year leader. Heads are busy and this is not core business. Governors need guidance in terms of parental issues and they are there to support the head and their workload. Give them a weekly email about numbers of attacks you have had- verbal or time consuming. When meeting irate people insist on having a note taker present who is also a witness. Set ground rules at the outset. This often calms people down as it is more business like and less personal. It is also respectful to deal with complaints in a systematic way, often not answering but saying you will look into it and respond in writing/ by phonecall. Never meet parents on the day of a complaint- allow a day or weekend for calming and possibly rational thought. Do not hang around too much in the playground- be seen but keep moving! LEA's used to have a sign for offices about how we expect people to behave on site. Don't forget parents have a licence to enter the school premises and your school/county solicitor and the police will back you up if you have grounds to revoke it. Don't let them get you down. If you can't solve an issue give them the complaints policy and ask if this is the school for them. Also be prepared to apologise if the school did get it wrong and listen. Be proactive and business like and don't forget to engage with the ones who deserve it. Heads need their energy. A lot of what people have written here is not on. You are not employed to be abused by the public.
I agree with the vast majority of what you're saying and I have some parents who are on a restricted licence. However, I work in a community which has huge issues of trust with authority and one of the ways we've overcome this is by being available and accessible to parents in the playground before and after school. The vast majority treat us with respect and do not behave badly. My predecesor had a "doors closed" policy which resulted in parents only coming in to school when they were at absolute boiling point - as a result he was assaulted on numerous occassions. If anything the number of angry, abusive and aggressive parents was higher because they felt they weren't listened to or taken seriously unless they were aggressive. Also we had a lot of parents taking things into their own hands on the playground, bullying children and each other, lots of fighting etc. and that had to be stopped. By making ourselves approachable small problems don't usually become big ones and misunderstandings can be cleared up easily.
I would add the caveat that you need to know your parents as individuals - I have one parent who I never see immediately - he needs to calm down and he also needs to understand that I'm a busy person with a school to run and he is one of several hundred parents I work with. Another parent I know will be easily reassured with a phone call and the matter can be resolved instantly. It's about knowing what works for whom.
The advice about saying "Leave it with me and I'll look into it" is excellent - it diffuses the situation and shows that you're taking it seriously.
Once many many years ago had difficult Mum. Sorry, no such thing. Had a concerned Mum. Came in often. Until the day. . . Until the day yr 8 daughter brought handcuffs to school and managed to lock herself and best friend together with no key to release them. Took the caretaker ages to saw them apart.
Where did you get them? asked the Head of Year.
They were in my Mum's bedside cabinet, the lass replied. In a red velvet box.
Never set eyes on the mother again.;-)
Oooo shades of grey!!
I spoke to another HT the other day who currently has a gang of parents being stirred up by a grandparent. They received a whole list of complaints dating back to 2009 when they don't think the HT was being pro-active enough when there was an outbreak of nits!!