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When to say, enough is enough?

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by Nowayout, Feb 1, 2019.

  1. Nowayout

    Nowayout New commenter

    Not posted for a while but here I am again.

    Really not feeling it and left work in tears today really not wanting to ever go back.

    Had a really agreesive phone call from a parent ( who is always difficult to deal with) . How can it be acceptable for a parent to rant, swear and be so wholly abhorrent?

    Great - so now I feel completely disillusioned with everything. I know I should be more resilient but sometimes it is just too much.
  2. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    I'm not a head but sympathetic so just sending lots of positive thoughts to you and hope next week is better.
    And no, it's wrong for parents to shout and swear at you or any other staff.
    Nowayout likes this.
  3. J.M.Powell

    J.M.Powell New commenter

    Don’t be hard on yourself-you’re only human!
    It’s never acceptable for a parent to swear and rant at you. Whatever this parent has said about you or your leadership, remember it is not the truth about you. Parents can be abusive for so many reasons and some just seem to lack the skills to get their point over in a constructive way! It is difficult when parents are not open to hearing the full story about something that has happened and when they criticise the way it’s been handled.
    With regards to this parent, I would suggest that you discuss with your chair of governors what’s happened and the most appropriate way forward. It may be that you don’t want to do anything other than ‘lick your wounds’, but sharing it will help. Perhaps it would be appropriate to send a general letter out to remind the parents of your school expectations for conduct toward staff and the consequences of not adhering to this? If you have already done this, then you could perhaps consider a follow-up letter informing the parent that abusive language is not tolerated at the school and that any further incursions will result in phone calls/meetings being terminated immediately and even the possibility of being banned from the school site.
    Sometimes an aggressive parent can catch us off-guard and give us a real knock-don’t despair! You are not defined by what an abusive parent says about you, but by the truth of who you are!
    nomad and Nowayout like this.
  4. Nowayout

    Nowayout New commenter

    Thank you both for your responses. I truly appreciate it.
    I really don’t understand why I suddenly feel like this. It has knocked me sideways and I’m in a right mess- continually tearful and snappy with family for no reason. Can’t beleive one person has made me feel so dreadful.
  5. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Occasional commenter

    For the parent, you must issue a letter stating that if they continue to behave aggressively they will be banned from the site and only allowed to communicate through writing.
    I had to do this and it was absolutely the best thing to do. It didn't work, so I could then legally send a second letter banning them from the site. I had a multitude of other parents and teachers thank me for removing one toxic parent who had been making everyone's life a misery.
    Your HR/Legal support will draft one for you.

    I made the mistake of thinking that I had to put up with the abuse (there was A LOT) until someone pointed out that I also had the right to feel safe and respected in the workplace.
    welshwales, nomad and digoryvenn like this.
  6. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    Sooooooexcited is right, please send this letter.

    I didn't and it was a mistake and the issues escalated and made me extremely upset and anxious.
    I was persuaded not to by governors!!

    I wish I had sent it.

    No-one told me that I also had the right to feel safe and be respected at work.

    Of course you are upset, it is natural to be so because you care.
    welshwales and nomad like this.
  7. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    The DfE recently (November 2018) published new guidance on just this type of thing.


    Schools can bar someone from the premises if they feel that their aggressive, abusive or insulting behaviour or language is a risk to staff or pupils. It’s enough for a member of staff or a pupil to feel threatened.

    The school should tell an individual that they’ve been barred or they intend to bar them, in writing. Letters should usually be signed by the headteacher, though in some cases the local authority, academy trust or proprietor may wish to write instead. The individual must be allowed to present their side. A school can either:

    • bar them temporarily, until the individual has had the opportunity to formally present their side
    • tell them they intend to bar them and invite them to present their side by a set deadline
    After the individual’s side has been heard, the school can decide whether to continue with barring them. The decision should be reviewed within a reasonable time, decided by the school.
    starlightexpress and digoryvenn like this.
  8. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    Nowayout: it's not you! I know that is absolutely no consolation at all though.
    I've recently adopted a phrase along the lines of "I can tell you are really angry/upset about this issue because you are shouting/swearing at me. I'm not prepared to carry on this meeting/phonecall with you while you are shouting/swearing at me; because it's not going to help us move forwards"
    If I'm in the meeting, I tend to make as if I'm getting up... if I'm on the phone I tell them I am going to stop the call and try again tomorrow.
    I also try and meet such parents with another member of SLT (who is there to "take notes") now.
    We have a parent/visitor code of conduct which has helped a bit.
    welshwales likes this.
  9. mms1

    mms1 Occasional commenter

    All the above advice is spot on, it's been a long autumn/winter and the spring is edging ever closer.It seems an increasing section of society hold little value or respect for education or those that work so hard support their children.It's no different for the police or health care - all of the public sector get their regular and undeserved kicking.
    Are you feeling more on top of the rest of the job?
    lsalewski likes this.
  10. Nowayout

    Nowayout New commenter

    Thank you all. Advice has been greatly appreciated.

    Yes I had been feeling fairly good about things to be honest.
    lsalewski likes this.

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