Friday 1 September 2017

When parents and school disagree

September 1st; Back to school time has already arrived for some and is fast approaching for others. It's a tricky topic here in this house and there have already been tears from two of us today (luckily, our eldest daughter loves school).

Today I'm hosting an anonymous guest post from a friend who is feeling the pain already. What do you do and how do you recover when the parent-school relationship breaks down?


Does your child attend a school where the packed lunch police dictate what your child is allowed to eat for lunch? 
Is your child issued more homework than you feel is right? 
Is your child pulled up by the school over uniform policy because you bought them socks that were the wrong colour? 
Has your child been bullied at school and you felt the school were unsupportive? 
Is your child's school denying your child the education support plans you feel they need? 

These are just a few of the reasons why parents and schools can be at loggerheads with each other. 

I am currently in a 'disagreement' with one of my children's schools and it is horrible. I feel violated, angry and it is hard to now trust then in any way. One incidence can undo years of a good working relationship and damage great rapport. It can all happen so easily too. 

I absolutely understand that schools have a duty of care and that so much of their remit is controlled politically. Schools have a responsibility both to their pupils and to the community at large to ensure the safety, education, wellbeing and growth of the children and young people in their care. Schools have a captive audience to teach responsibility, respect and understanding. They absolutely should be encouraging children to make healthy and safe decisions and be accountable for their actions as well as teaching a rounded and thorough education. They have guidelines and standards to meet and thankfully they are also accountable both to parents and various levels of inspections. For many children they are a place of safety, respite, and security and that must never be forgotten. 

My worry and upset however is when schools and parents just can not find a way of professionally working together. When this happens it can have a ripple effect on parents, staff and ultimately the children too. Sometimes this poor working relationship can become unattainable to the extent that parents chose to either home education and lose faith in the entire system or they remove their child and look for another school. For some the latter has brought a fresh start and things really do change. 

For a particular group of children though parental disagreement with schools is far more complex to resolve. What happens if your child has been placed in a school by the local authority because they have complex needs and mainstream is not an option? What do you do when a simple placing request to a neighbouring school is not an option? How to you continue on when there is a difficult working relationship with your child's school? 

This is where I am right now. There are so many in a similar position too. 

Every morning there are parents making packed lunches with anger boiling inside them at the fact they can not feed their own child what they see fit. Every morning there are children crying because schools are enforcing strict uniform codes which parents disagree with and children are caught in the middle. Every evening there are families fighting over the level and amount of homework issued. Every term there are parents of special needs children fighting schools to make sure their child receives the educational support they feel they need. 

There are parents everywhere feeling bullied, undermined and insignificant by schools. 

Then there are the children caught in the middle of it all. 

Poor relationships between parents and schools can sometimes be resolved. Sometimes that takes time, sometimes it takes starting fresh at a whole new school and sometimes it takes compromise. 

I have a disagreement with my child's school right now. It happens. I am not sure if this can be resolved to my complete satisfaction or not. 

Maybe we can compromise. Maybe we can have dialogue, or maybe this will mark the start of a downhill relationship from now on. 

There is no denying it: when parents and schools disagree it is just hard for everyone, including the child.


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