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Parents & Work Email

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by lpodstawka, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    I sort of get your point, but point one only happens if people let it. And you know what, most parents in my experience accept they won’t get a response immediately. If not, tough. Their problem.

    They could email reception, yeah. But if it’s about history, or my form group, it’s coming to me regardless anyway. So may as well cut out the middle man. In ours if parents start to get awkward, you either don’t reply or push upstairs. I like email because you can do that.

    You talk of doctors... but you wouldn’t expect email communication with them simply as in a clinical job it’s awkward.... I do have email communication with other professionals... my financial advisor, solicitor for example when I move house... depends on nature of the job.
    caterpillartobutterfly and nomad like this.
  2. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Your GP has a number of patients on their list (a large number) - and a teacher has a large number of pupils they teach or have other links to; there is a similarity. Your financial adviser and Solicitor may have other clients, but you pay them directly and have a one-to-one relationship...not the same as the relationship between a teacher or GP with their 'clients'!
  3. smurphy6

    smurphy6 Senior commenter

    I agree completely with Piscean1 in post 19 and the posts 20 and 22 by FrankWolley.

    We have the same system in place for parental contact as they do.

    I would not like parents to have my work email as this is for emails between myself and colleagues.
    cissy3 and Piscean1 like this.
  4. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    And how easy it would be to send an email with personal information about a pupil (or colleague) to a parent whose email was saved on your email by mistake...:eek:
    Sally006 likes this.
  5. nomad

    nomad Star commenter


    It is an email account to be used in your professional capacity as a teacher.

    And coming up with thinly disguised excuses as to why parents should not be using your email address to contact you is hardly being professional.

    Only for the stupid, clumsy and ignorant!
  6. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Lead commenter

    I would rather have an email from a parent, most of the time, than them making an appointment to see me after/before school to tell me.

    You can always filter your incoming emails into two inboxes so you can quickly see your colleagues' ones separate to parent/external ones.
    Faidha, DYNAMO67 and nomad like this.
  7. Piscean1

    Piscean1 Senior commenter

    Different strokes for different folks, I guess. If parents are reasonable, email can obviously be very useful. If not, it's probably best to curtail it! Maybe it's quite different between secondary and primary?

    As a primary teacher, I see the same children every day and parents have an opportunity to approach me face to face every day at home time plus 3 mornings a week. I think having so many opportunities to raise things pretty much negates the need for them to be sending me emails. I'm assuming (may be wrong) that in a SEND school, OP largely sees the same, small number of pupils so perhaps similar applies? Also, regardless of what any of us think, if it is not the norm for parents to be emailing staff about their children, governors and "chosen/awkward parents" shouldn't be applying different rules to themselves.

    In secondary, where there is more distance between parents and staff, I can see how email could be a more useful form of communication and I do see your point.
    agathamorse and DYNAMO67 like this.
  8. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    I agree. But I’m going have to communicate with parents in my role. And I’d rather that be via email for several reasons. One, I can consider my response 2) I can do it whenever suits me- unlike a phone call 3) I can cut the conversation when it suits me by ignoring or leaving 4) there’s a permanent record of what’s been said.

    I get the feeling there may be a slight primary/secondary split with email (not you, I know you did the same job as me)
    caterpillartobutterfly and nomad like this.
  9. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    Spot on I hadn’t read this when I wrote my reply
    Piscean1 likes this.
  10. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I think a quick internet search will reveal a fair number of occasions where important/confidential etc. information has been inadvertently sent by email to the wrong person - perhaps by someone tired and not working at their best because they are hounded out of office hours and expected to answer.

    In such a case, wouldn't it be the school (and perhaps the HT or CoG) who were liable for data protection breaches, not the individual teacher...;)
    cissy3 and Sally006 like this.
  11. smurphy6

    smurphy6 Senior commenter

    Our parents contact the school office via email if they need to and the office then act as a filter when required. It is all very professional and as I see the parents of children in my class parents daily face to face contact works perfectly well.

    As said earlier it’s each to their own. One way is no more professional than another, just a different way of communicating.

    Nomad, no thinly disguised excuses here, just the way my school works and always has done - long before I got there. It works for us and we all behave in exemplary fashion.
    Sally006 and NoIdeaWhy2 like this.
  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Been there, done that.
    More about the parent than the pupil, so heaps of apologies in front of the head in a face to face meeting and parent eventually forgave me.
    Sort of mistake one only makes once!
  13. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    It is about size of school Isnt it? We have 1200 pupils. The reception staff acting as a filter for the whole school would never be viable.

    As head of department I would also rather have correspondence direct with me when it concerns my department. I don’t want some nosey office person knowing details of issues parents may have with my department.

    Previously as head of year, there were some things that parents wouldn’t have sent via the school office, because some things are confidential.

    I can see in primary or smaller schools, it may work....

    Unlike our primary colleagues, the idea in our school of parents pitching up unannounced is totally discouraged. Phoning is a waste of time as you generally only get to answerphone anyway. Therefore email works for us.
  14. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    Like all electronic communication, you are not obliged to read email out of work hours.
    Betterreadthandead and saluki like this.
  15. thejudgesscoresarein

    thejudgesscoresarein Occasional commenter

    Can you not ask for a notice to go out in the weekly newsletter stating that email contact to members of staff is not acceptable and that if a parent/guardian wants to speak to a member of staff, they contact the school via the school office. I’m a HT myself and I make it clear that if a parent wants to contact the school, they contact via the appropriate channels.
    Sally006 likes this.
  16. Sally006

    Sally006 Occasional commenter

    Exactly! I have used the same analogy in my school. Sadly, teachers not on the receiving end of the bad stuff, ridiculous times etc don’t see the problem. I received such negative abuse that it was a major contributing factor to going on long term sick with WRS. Head and Govs were on the cusp of disabling Class Dojo throughput the school but staff who found it worked for them persuaded them otherwise. It only got disabled in my class. Great solidarity there!
    cissy3 and FrankWolley like this.
  17. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Hmmmm it doesn't work for all the same reasons you give.
    Some emails go to the office, things like pupil absence.
    Some come straight to us.
    Some we'd rather come straight to us, but end up going to the office and cause all kinds of gossip problems.

    Parents need to send the emails to the person they want to read it.
    If some parents misuse the system then SLT need to take action for those specific parents.
  18. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Why disable an excellent communication system across the entire school because of a few parents in one class? It isn't about solidarity as much as not using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
    One class has parents who are a problem, disable that system for those parents. Problem solved. No need to create hassles for everyone else.

    If staff receive emails/dojo at ridiculous times, then they need to take control. There is no way any parent can get a message to me in the evenings. They might send a dojo message. They might send an email. But I won't be receiving anything until I get to work the next morning. SLT need to support this.
  19. DexterDexter

    DexterDexter Occasional commenter

    A little off topic, but I’ve never been to the dentist, doctors or a hospital appointment where the professional is being observed- except when training students.
    afterdark and Piscean1 like this.
  20. moontitan

    moontitan New commenter

    The school I work at publicises our work emails on the website and every brochure going. This has led staff into a pit of ridiculous emails and misery:
    1) Emails asking for student progress- we should not have to reply as students receive half termly progress reports. SLT expect us to respond
    2) Parents informing us their child cannot work sat next to x and needs to be moved- child should talk to the teacher
    3) Parents asking for additional one to one support for their child- child should talk to teacher
    4) Parents asking for the next test date- child should talk to teacher
    5) Parent complaining- groan
    6) Parent making homework excuse- child should talk to teacher
    7) Parent asking to provide them regular weekly feedback on their childs progress- we have flipped this so that they contact us for feedback, they soon give up.
    8) Parent asking their childs ranking!
    9) Parent asking of any tutors we may know or any additional books they can buy- not my job to suggest and child should talk to teacher about books

    I could go on...but overall the child could deal with most things. With parents being able to email teachers, the children are becoming responsible for almost nothing. This generation will undoubtedly be an anxious one and one that will struggle to make their own decisions.

    I should also add, since the decision by SLT to have "good communication" with parents, staff turnover has gone from 5-8% to 40%.

    jlishman2158 and Sally006 like this.

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