Parents' complaints 'distract 84% of school leaders'

Warning that the rise of social media is leaving schools dealing with parent complaints both on-site and online

John Roberts

A new survey warns that 84 per cent of school leaders are distracted by parents' complaints

More than four out of five school leaders say they are distracted by complaints from parents, a poll shows.

In a survey of more than 1,000 school leaders, more than half of the respondents (57 per cent)  said they were distracted to a "significant" or "fairly high extent" by complaints about their school's approach.

And just over a quarter (27 per cent) of school leaders said they were distracted to a moderate extent.

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Just 4 per cent of those questioned said they were not distracted by parents' complaints at all.

The research follows concerns voiced by Ofsted that teachers were being put under pressure to respond immediately to emails from parents asking about their child's schooling.

The latest poll, which was published today, was carried out by The Key school leaders’ information service. 

How schools should engage with parents

Amy Cook, head of content at The Key, said: "We know that dealing with complaints from parents is a time-consuming and recurring issue for our members.

"Indeed, social media has increased the complexity, with schools handling criticisms both on-site and online.

“Striking a balance between listening to parents' concerns, encouraging them to follow the school's complaints process, and enforcing a zero-tolerance approach to aggressive or inappropriate behaviour, is crucial – but easier said than done.”  

 The Key has launched a new resource hub – “Connect with parents and communicate with confidence”– which provides schools with checklists, model policies and examples of how to deal with common parent-related challenges. 

Earlier this year, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said that parents were entitled to have high expectations for their children, but warned that demanding immediate responses to queries was putting extra pressure on teachers.

She said: "Schools also have to play their part to improve their staff's wellbeing and manage the expectation of parents.

"It's high time leaders took steps to end this 'instant response culture' that is putting huge pressure on teachers, and allow them to focus on the important work of teaching."

This year Parentkind, which was formerly the Parent Teacher Association UK,  launched a consultation on a new blueprint for how schools should engage with parents of pupils, and it plans to launch a national framework next year.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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