The School governor - Parents behaving badly

12th September 2008 at 01:00
Most parents understand the need to behave appropriately when they're in the school or dropping their children off in the playground. However, our world is a changing place and rights sometimes seem to be more important than responsibilities.

Most parents understand the need to behave appropriately when they're in the school or dropping their children off in the playground. However, our world is a changing place and rights sometimes seem to be more important than responsibilities. Furthermore, some parents have a very different idea of dealing with teachers and schools than the supportive majority. So it's hardly surprising that the occasional parent oversteps the mark and behaves in a way that's unacceptable. I say "occasional", because most schools probably never have to deal with this situation.

But what do you do if a parent doesn't behave responsibly? Not behaving responsibly includes being aggressive to school staff or other parents, using bad language in the school or in the playground, and taking the law into their own hands. This is often excused as "caring about my child" but that doesn't make it any more acceptable.

Of course, like similar issues, it is best if a parent that doesn't behave acceptably is dealt with informally. This might mean a discussion with the headteacher or sometimes with a parent governor, particularly if the governor knows them reasonably well. This usually ends with an apology and a promise to not do it again.

But if an informal approach doesn't work, the ultimate deterrent - to be used with care in my experience - is to withdraw the entitlement of the parent to be on school premises. This includes the building and the playground. In this instance, the parent would be seen as committing trespass if they enter the school's premises.

The parent has the right of appeal to the governors, and this restriction is time limited. Reasonable behaviour in future usually means that it is quickly rescinded.

Alan Wells, Chair of governors at a north London primary.

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