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Problem with parent

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Jemima_1, Dec 11, 2019.

  1. Jemima_1

    Jemima_1 New commenter

    Hi everyone. I’ve had a rubbish week already, and we’ve only done 2 full days! I went in on Monday to an issue needing to be resolved for a parent ‘URGENTLY’, I was quite worried as it was made to sound like a bullying issue so I spoke to the child to see what was going on, they told me tales of felt tips and people bothering them while they were trying to work - nothing serious. Seemed like an “I don’t want to come to school so I need an excuse” situation. Nevertheless I did as I was told and called the parent to let them know what was going on, kept an eye on the child who kept coming to me all day and saying “my dad said if I’m sad to tell you to call him and he will come and pick me up” which I personally think it’s the catalyst for everything.

    Today was the bad one. I was told that the parent had said that the child didn’t want to come into school because “she’s always getting shouted at by her teacher”. I was really upset, this child is never shouted at and it felt really personal. Not to mention the fact I don’t shout at children, I find it ineffective and there’s other more positive behaviour management tools that work much better. Having spoken to the child it turns out it’s my ‘loud voice’ they don’t like which is what the parent was told but has tried to twist this into something it isn’t. I don’t know what to do. Do I fight my corner or let it blow over?
  2. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    What is your role? Are you new/young? I am guessing that this is a "known" parent. Pass it up and do not engage with parent on your own.
  3. Jemima_1

    Jemima_1 New commenter

    I have been teaching for 2 years, never had anything like this before! In fact it’s usually the opposite.
  4. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    I have to say that when I was working (except when on SLT) I made it a personal rule to speak to parents as infrequently as possible. The more they demand action, the less I was inclined to jump to attention. It only encourages them.
  5. Jesmond12

    Jesmond12 Star commenter

    Speak to your HT or DHT straight away. Make sure that you keep a record of all conversations with the parent and anything that the child might say.

    It does sound like the child does not want to go to school and the easiest person to blame is the teacher. Don’t worry it has happened to most of us.

    When I was a HT I would call the parent in to discuss the issues with the teacher present as well. When the parent saw that I was supporting the teacher the problem often resolved itself.

    Understandably the parent is worried and that needs to be addressed but not by you alone.
  6. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    There are plenty of HTs who, having called a meeting of precisely this make up, then default to supporting the parent. And I mean "default". The meeting therefore is a conduit for parental voice more than anything else.
    i have seen this happen, and I have seen this break staff who had had no inkling at all that this is how parental queries are dealt with on escalation.
    Thank you that you were not one of them, hopefully OP's is not either.
  7. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    First thought.
    It's nearly the end of the longest term of the school year. The issue is not life threatening and may well blow over once the new year has started.
    Second thought. There is a lot of "I was told" in your account. It feels as if there are not so subtle narrative shifts between retelling. Maybe a direct chat to the parents, possibly with someone senior present will resolve some of the issues.
    Third thought. It sounds as if the child needs a bit more resilience and to feel "heard". I suspect the issue with the child is not you being "too loud" or needing "Daddy to come to the rescue" but needing a bit more empowerment. Maybe an important little job.
    Good luck. I'd try to ride the storm until January. By then the problems will be different but still there.
  8. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Could well just be a sensitivity/resilience issue.
    My daughter hated one subject in year 7, entirely because the teacher "shouts at us" - and her friends didn't seem much happier. On further enquiry, she didn't shout at my daughter, but at the misbehaving boys. This made my daughter feel uncomfortable, even though she had no reason to think it would ever be directed at her. I suspect she didn't usually actually shout, either - she was a very experienced teacher. The teacher was completely unaware of the problem, and told us at parents' evening that our daughter enjoyed the subject.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Hand it over to a phase leader or SLT.
    Leave them to deal with it and let it blow over.
  10. geminiteach

    geminiteach New commenter

    Just a thought but sometimes there may be a genuine reason why a child is making excuses/does not want to come into school.

    Could there be issues with anxiety? Some children really struggle in the run-up to holidays, due to changes in routine or difficult family circumstances. Could there be unidentified needs such as sensory needs or issues with understanding social communication, e.g. some children misinterpret the tone/volume of a teacher's voice and struggle with facial expression body language too?

    It does sound like the parent has presented as challenging but there may be a genuine underlying worry and some parents struggle to express this themselves/ask for help. I would try to keep an open mind on the reason why, though it can be hard not to take it personally at this stressful time of year. Could you ask your SENCo if the child is known to them?

    I hope you get it resolved soon.
  11. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    When I read threads like this, I always think schools need the sort of notice I see at my GP (and in many other places) to the effect that they will not accept their staff being verbally assaulted etc. (Not saying that this is the case here, but it often is).

    Parents who raise their voice, or worse threaten teachers or other school staff should be banned from the premises, and, if necessary, reported to the police.
  12. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Up in the reception of the school I know best
    caress and Morninglover like this.
  13. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    I once had a parent tell me that her child was upset because he thought I didn't like him. He frequently misbehaved so was constantly reprimanded, but it took a lot of effort to get him to understand that it wasn't him I didn't like, it was the way he behaved in class.
  14. 1stviolin

    1stviolin New commenter

    I wondered too if it could be auditory sensitivity: for some children on the spectrum particular sounds/ voices can seem excessively loud.
  15. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    Lots of children use the word 'shout' when they mean that they were told off, which obviously they don't like, how ever appropriate it is!

    One of my boys was pestered by the same classmate for several years in primary school. Nothing that she did was all that terrible but he resented having to sit with her (he was considered a good influence on her) because of the low level irritation he had to put up with. Perhaps it's something like this. Small irritations that don't seem so bad to the teacher might actually make a child's life a misery if there are a lot of them and the child can't get away. My son ended up getting into trouble when he stood on the girl's toe out of sheer frustration, having politely asked not to have to sit with her. Even her own mother said she deserved it!

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