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Parents shouting at teachers.

Discussion in 'Primary' started by meya, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. lillipad

    lillipad New commenter

    I haven't had it, but am anticipating it. Mainly because i've been pre-warned about a parent in my class who gets very anxious about her child, and will happily corner the teacher and shout at them about it. But i refuse to be bullied by some old woman who i'm paying to sit on her ass at home and smoke and drink all day!
  2. I haven't been yelled at, but a parent took up four appointment slots at parent's evening and another one told me I was being petty and looked at her child and said, "Don't worry about what this stupid woman says, she's petty and I'll ignore anything that comes home from her about what you're doing."
    Excellent. Complete undermining... just as bad as shouting!
  3. Hampshire LEA provided training (and resources for in-school training) a few years back. Unfortunately not all schools took it up, but I did and I regularly lead INSETs to refresh people's training and train new staff. There are a few basic tips: try to avoid the parent being between you and the door(!) and gradually move around them to re-establish this. It is worth considering, when you have a pre-planned meeting in a classroom, ensuring the classroom layout allows you to exit without passing them. Keep a "reaction gap" so if they invade your personal space move away to regain the "gap", but move sideways to avoid being backed against a wall/ into a corner. Politely but firmly tell them "I can see you are angry, but if you calm down I can try to help". (OK, sounds like stating the obvious, but amazingly it works, because you are acknowledging their feelings). If they start to calm down, invite them to come with you (lead the way - DO NOT TOUCH OR USHER THEM as you would then be invading their space) and, however minor or silly their complaint seems to you, act as if you are listening, taking it seriously, and MAKE NOTES. It directs their attention away from you and reduces aggressive eye contact. It also provides a written record. However, if your initial response is met with more aggression, then firmly tell them that you cannot help them if they continue to shout. Give them two options: "either you calm down and I will listen to you and try to help or I will have to ask you to leave." Most people back down at this point, but if not, it's time to walk away. This forces them to calm down (or they storm off) and gets you into a safer position. I was dubious when I had this training, but as a senior leader I have had to use it on lots of occasions - IT WORKS!
    Finally, you have a right to have any incident of verbal violence (bad language, abuse or shouting) recorded and reported to your LEA. Hampshire has a VIR (Violent Incident Report) form. If you are in fear of it happening again, or it HAS happened more than once (not necessarily to you, but to any staff) you have a right to insist that the Head bans them COMPLETELY from the school site (use your Union if you need to). Many Heads seem unaware or unwilling to do this, but they DO have the right. Legally, parents do not have the right to be on school premises (pupils do), as they are "invited guests". Under the Prevention of Harassment Act if it happens to you on "two or more occasions" you can complain to the police, which can lead to a fine or up to 6 month sentence.
    Finally, remember that they are probably not really angry with you, even if they are blaming you for something. Most people arrive in school having had a bad day, a family row, financial problems, having been egged-on by another parent, etc etc. They may well have psyched themselves up and may lack the confidence to deal with the situation assertively rather than aggressively. Stay calm and firm and when they start to calm down ensure you listen and make notes.
  4. Having previously worked in commercial mortgage arrears for a large bank before training as a teacher, I was well up on talking to parents (adults). At the bank there were loads of courses for 'speaking to difficult customers' and it is very useful knowledge to have now! Main things are as above, always remain calm, never shout, never move into their space, never get excited keep your hands still etc if you don't this then allows them to do the same. If you can't keep them calm then always refer up and always report. If they get abusive refuse to participate anymore (very politely) and stick to your guns! Remember you wouldn't allow a general member of the public to speak to you like this, you are trained in education!
  5. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Jonnicola if they are banned that includes parents evening. Discussion can be done over the phone. If the parent behaves then it can be done in a separate meeting with head or DH present. Parents are reminded that meetings will end should they get abusive and the police will be called.
  6. It has only happened to me once in 5 years. The parent was upset about another childs behaviour in the class. The parent was shouting at me in front of other parents and children and throwing things on the table where i was standing. The headteacher came and we discussed the situation straight away but not once was the parent told that this was not acceptable behaviour. Once she had left we agreed that the parent would not be allowed to help on trips etc anymore and i would not be alone with her. The parent was not told this because we felt she was not in the right frame of mind. This year she applied to be a parent governor and only 2 people applied for 2 places so she has got the role. The headteacher says she can do nothing about it. Is this true? Should i take it further e.g. union or head governor?
  7. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    I am sure there is a way but you might be better posting on the gov forum.
  8. Thanks, i will have a look there.
  9. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    It worries me that many of you are saying 'it hasn't happened to me YET'. It has never happened to me in 13 years, so it may well never happen to you either.
  10. It happened to me a few weeks ago. After a day training when i came in supply had left note saying 2 parents had been in asking about my lack of hearing readers, so when one of said mums came in at 8.30am i went to office to arrange to meet at end of day. The mum basically started having a right go. Very aggressive and demanding to know when i would hear her child read. She told me she had phoned every mum in my class and that i hadn't heard any children read the entire term. Untrue, but i let her get it off her chest. When i tried to explain that no i had not heard her child read home reading book but we had done guided reading, phonics and all the other forms of reading that goes on she started shouting again. I told her she needed to read daily with her child and with all that was going on that would give good coverage she told me it wasn't her job to read with her child, that was what i was paid for. She then started having a go about all sorts of other things and I don't think she was really that interseted in what i was saying. She started in the office infront of other staff who wrote down what was said. I did make the mistake of taking her to my class room to show her my records of children i had heard but she got worse and in the end the deputy had to take her out.
    I didn't realise how aggrssive she was being, in front of staff and children from my class, until after when everyone was concerned for me. I worked in catering for quiet a while so i guess i can deal with it to a degree. The problem is i think this has made me nervous and doubt myself. I am returning to full time teaching after supply, new to key stage 1 and am trying to get everything right as well as juggle my own kids. I understand how important your kids education is but the child in question has now developed a bit of attitude towards me.
    The head was very supportive and spent over an hour with parent at end of day resulting in the mum saying sorry and she is now coming in every week to help hear readers!! So will have to wait and see what happens!

  11. I am so surprised at how many people have said they have experienced a parent shouting at them.
    I am doing some research for a television programme into how teachers are expected to go beyond the realms of teaching and take on the responsibility of parent as well.
    It's interesting to read LRoumignac's story of how the parent didn't feel it her duty to read with her child at home. I'm not a parent or a teacher and I know that teachers are paid to teach, but surely this has always been in conjunction with parents supporting the child's reading etc at home? A friend of mine who is a teacher has told me she has secondary pupils who are illiterate, and this apparently is quite common?!?
    I would be interested to hear other people's experiences as to why the parent is shouting at them. Have any of you encountered a shouting parent who has been upset by something which really isn't within the job description of a teacher?
  12. upsadaisy

    upsadaisy New commenter

    I had a parent's evening once where the dad, who I never met before came without mum. I spoke to him about his child's extremely agressive behaviour and he proceeded to shout at me and tell me he wanted his son to hit other children and in fact he tells his son to pinch and bite others!
    How insane is that? I told him to leave and the head could hear him shouting at me and escorted him out and he had to write a letter of apology.

  13. I would be interested to hear other people's experiences as to why the parent is shouting at them.
    Well natline, A selection, in very condensed form from both meself and my colleagues:
    "I demanded yesterday that my childs library book be changed as I found it boring to read with them"
    "(after a supply was brought in after a very short notice staf hospitalisation) Miss X knows that my child does not like change so my child is excused from any bad behaviour for the next x weeks - I don't expect any ramifications for his bad behaviour as it's expected" - from parent of a child trying it on with a supply with no difficulty issues!
    "why didn't you show my childs dead frog??" Disposed of due to suffocating class with the smell from a flora tub it was delivered in one morning with no relation to anything we were studying!
    "You're an asian -lover and are being racist!" - from a parent confronting a teacher after her child (white) did not get the weekly certificate and a child of asian origin did.
    To the point of almost hitting the teacher "why do you never give my child the certificate!!" Then went to head threatening to report teacher to GTC for racism (both teacher and child white british btw). Child not given certificate for persistent lateness, backchat, refusing to do work as "mum says I don't have to listen to you" and only 60% attendence.
    Have more but bored now.....
  14. ps - only been teaching for a year.......
  15. The funny thing is, I have a good, but tentative relationship with both of the parents who shouted at me. (Tentative on my side because I'm ready for them). One shouted after the first week I had taught her child, the other after the first day! I'm going to take some positives from this and believe that they now realise that I am doing the best I can for their child in every waay that I can..
  16. I was on Dutyafter school, a parent walked passed me while I was talking to past pupils saying how bad our school was, I told the girls to ignore the man and he then shouted at me calling me a drug taking prostitute.. I told LT who "investigated". I am still waiting on an appology....This man still comes onto school property.....all because his son had lost his coat.....
  17. p1j39

    p1j39 New commenter

    I've been threatened by 2 dads! Never had an apology. Dads were allowed on site whenever they needed to come. One still tries to get a meeting with me about his son. i refuse!
  18. All verbal abuse and threatening behaviour should be reported and logged.
    People who are verbally abusive are usually capable of notching up a gear to actual physical abuse.
    Local authorities need to maintain a register and index. Then persistent offenders will be flagged up across directorates. and staff can be better protected, if they need to make home visits, or otherwise.
  19. Aldo1983

    Aldo1983 New commenter

    Shout back even louder?
  20. You are a hypocrite.
    On Parentscentre you did not have a decent word to say about ANY teacher. Every post any teacher posted you were abusive and spiteful towards them.
    You stalked one teacher there and then here, even to the point of finding out this teacher's 'real' name and posting under it on this site.

    So is it OK for a parent to be abusive to a teacher in real life but not OK here? I think not.

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