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Parental complaint ABOUT MOI!!

(32 Posts)
ByronBaby Tue 15-Mar-16 08:31:14

My HT has received a written complaint about my work and this is it ...

Their child can't work (their words - I would say learn!) because the classroom environment is too distracting. This surprised me because my room is a peaceful place this year and this has been the subject of comment from visiting advisors, the HT, other teachers. I have a very peaceable lot this year. Apparently it is the 'scratching of pencils' and children using their erasers that the child is finding distracting.

And the parent is complaining that I don't appear to be in my room much this year and why haven't they been told that I am 'sharing my class'. Since the beginning of the academic year I have had 3 planning/ marking/ report writing/ SEN meetings days, 1 day at a conference and 2 days to visit the hospital to check out a mystery lump in my breast (not that any parent needs to know this). My HT is talking about running further days out of my classroom past these parents. WHY? Surely they can just get stuffed!!

I cannot see how any angst from SLT over this complaint is needed. In any event, there is very little I can do.

Just venting really ...

capsium Tue 15-Mar-16 08:40:44

I think you have got to stop thinking in terms of this complaint being about you.

The parent mentioned their child's difficulty doing the work set (yes, this is distinct from learning, they might be satisfied with their learning) because of the noise of pencils scratching. Look at ways of solving this. Is the child sensitive to noise, would ear defenders work?

Regarding you being in the classroom, how much of this is your personal choice? Surely this is questioning SLT's decision making? The parent probably just wants more ease of communication to discuss their concerns, they sound worried. What is their child's progress like? Perhaps you can put their mind at rest?

Bogburglar99 Tue 15-Mar-16 09:03:27

Well, as a parent and a governor (not a teacher) I think 'running it past the parents' is a bit of a cop out. What are you supposed to do when they say no?

Personal medical issues unavoidable and I doubt you enjoyed it any more than the kids did (hope you are OK). Conferences, SEN planning meetings, etc, ought to be decided by Head or SLT in consultation with you, dependent on things like how often you'd been out, how important it was for you to be at the meeting, the availability of cover, the quality of cover ... I'd expect the Head to be able to defend that decision if questioned but you really can't delegate it to a parent!

I have one child with SEN who struggles with change, and for him it would be nice to be informed about planned cover. Never managed it yet! For my DD who is well settled, I have confidence that she's well taught, including the provision of high quality cover when her teacher can't be there. If I didn't I would be complaining about the SLTs staff management, not asking to approve her teachers timetable!

noblegiraffe Tue 15-Mar-16 09:11:01

A complaint about scratching pencils is bonkers, you know that so don't see it as a criticism of your teaching. You being out - again overblown. SLT's job to smooth that over 'unavoidable training/meetings, excellent cover blah blah'.

There's nothing personal in there so don't take it personally. This parent sounds anxious about their child but isn't articulating it properly. SLT need to get to the bottom of the real problem - concerns about SEN?

KERALA1 Tue 15-Mar-16 09:16:06

As a professuonal dealing essentially with random members of the public by the law of averages you will at some point encounter a loon. Here is yours!

capsium Tue 15-Mar-16 09:22:46

I don't think the parent is necessarily 'bonkers' or a 'loon'. Bandying this kind of language about is not exactly kind is it. Doesn't deal with change well, very sensitive to noise, is not exactly unheard of is it? Think!

If a parent is very worried they might not express themselves that well, or know the exact professional educational language to say what they mean. If it is difficult to voice concerns they can bottle up. Making sure communication channels are open would help. Judging the concerns as being 'bonkers' and insinuating the parent is a 'loon' most certainly won't.

hackneyzoo Tue 15-Mar-16 09:25:58

I agree with others who have said to not take this personally.
The parents sound anxious about their child. It sounds like the child feels unsettled or has sensory issues and parents need support or reassurance and have gone about seeking it in a rather heavy handed way.
People project their problems or
Like to have someone to blame. It's not personal, they are clearly worried about their child.
Sounds like your HT should have reassured them re: absences. These are normal and standard for all teachers.
If I was in your shoes I would prob ask to arrange a meeting with parents, make them feel listened too and try and support the child with the issues they are having. Kill them with kindness and reassure them.

ByronBaby Tue 15-Mar-16 09:33:54

The child is fine. Absolutely. Sometimes busy and on task, sometimes less so. Like the other children in the class. I don't want to block out noise. This is not building the child's ability to work with distraction in the future. And this is a place for young children - I expect and encourage purposeful chat at appropriate times. Just as I expect children to work quietly at other times.

The parents do not want to talk to me. Just pass on their concerns via the HT. And one of the parents is away much of time anyway. AND I never used the word 'loon' or 'bonkers', capsium. Please don't tell me to 'Think!'

Alfieisnoisy Tue 15-Mar-16 09:42:49

It could be that they are worried about their child in some way...perhaps there are other concerns and they are not expressing them well.
I am the parent of a child wi autism who found classroom noises very distracting in his early years but who now mostly copes. Not for one moment would I have ever complained about a teacher as distracting noises are part and parcel of the classroom. Instead we looked at ways of helping DS cope.

They may be chronic complainers of course....lots of those about and nothing much you can do about them. I know one extended family who constantly moan about schools, teachers and other kids. Their children are a nightmare but it is always the fault of the school. My child was referred to as "a little shit" by one of them and her child is now in a part time timetable as his behaviour in secondary school is so poor. Naturally this is the school's fault.

Don't take it to heart.

noblegiraffe Tue 15-Mar-16 09:43:05

I didn't say the parent was bonkers, I said a complaint about the noise from scratching pencils in a primary classroom is bonkers. It might be hiding a concern about SEN but the actual complaint that the noise is an issue and needs to be sorted can clearly be dismissed.

capsium Tue 15-Mar-16 09:46:04

I didn't address my last post to you Byron. You seem in a very defensive place, rightly or wrongly.

Regarding whether the child is 'fine' or not, is not exclusively your decision to make. Yes, children need to learn to manage distractions, I wholeheartedly agree but the parents have gained these concerns over their child from somewhere. Do they need to understand expected progress, as reported better? Has their child being complaining about the noise? Are they unsettled? Sometimes a child releases all their stress in behaviour at home.

If they don't want to meet you perhaps another form of communication would reassure them, letter, email, telephone call for example. Whichever, it is just good professional etiquette to offer further communication in order to not be shown to be too dismissive.

iseenodust Tue 15-Mar-16 09:46:07

I agree with Kerala the parent is a loon. Even if the child has SEN, the parent should realise all classrooms will have children using pencils/pens/erasers when learning and a low level hum of activity. Disclaimer - not a teacher.

owlsintheflowerpatch Tue 15-Mar-16 09:48:45

My dc has a sensory disorder and the classroom noise for them (scratching pencils/coughing/paper rustling etc) is a nightmare for them. There are workshops schools can do to help you to gain an insight into what it is like. I've done one and it was awful! Ear defenders do help.

She needs to be raising it as an sen issue though. It is a weird complaint.

capsium Tue 15-Mar-16 09:51:28

noble the complaint is not 'bonkers' if the parents expect a child's sensory issues to be picked up upon and managed. It might be badly expressed, apportioning blame is rarely productive but schools do have a responsibility to show consideration of additional needs.

SoupDragon Tue 15-Mar-16 10:13:39

Complaining to the head teacher that the sound of pencils is too distracting isn't bonkers? confused

DoctorDonnaNoble Tue 15-Mar-16 10:23:20

If they had concerns about the classroom they should have been raised with teacher in the first instance!

ByronBaby Tue 15-Mar-16 11:12:27

i agree with you DoctorDonna. If a parent had just come to me or called me or emailed or in fact any kind of direct communication at all, we could definitely have had a really productive talk. But ramping this issue up to the HT just means that it is now difficult to talk sensibly and practically about the needs of the child, as the HT doesn't know this student and their particular learning needs and strengths. The child has some particular needs that I won't discuss and at first, I thought 'no way can that be helpful' to ear defenders. But now, on reflection, I am wondering if they might help for short periods. So thanks for that! I will need to get some more advice on this; of course, it would be helpful if I could have a conversation with a parent, but I have been instructed not to mention this to them. It should not need to be this complicated.
PS Not defensive. Merely frustrated, with the HT as much as anyone. And maybe a bit annoyed about the whole time off issue.

capsium Tue 15-Mar-16 12:17:43

Byron, there a numerous reasons a parent might go directly to the head teacher. They might not have known the correct process, they might have thought (correctly it seems) it was a sure way to be taken seriously, you might have been out of school when they wanted to talk to you, they might have mentioned sensory issues to other staff members previously but this has not been passed on to you. Not that these circumstances are particularly your fault but it would explain your actions.

Having the HT involved shouldn't makes it more difficult to talk 'sensibly and practically'. A lot of the issues that arise out of this occurrence are potentially whole school issues, (communication, training) the HT needs to be involved.

capsium Tue 15-Mar-16 12:18:45

^should read 'their actions'. Typo.

capsium Tue 15-Mar-16 12:24:58

Complaining to the head teacher that the sound of pencils is too distracting isn't bonkers? confused

Potentially, no. The parents might have discussed sensory issues before, or, perhaps, other difficulties which might lead them to having an expectation their child would be closely watched and any sensory issues would have been picked up on. Also we don't know whether they saw their communication as a complaint or as just as expressing their concerns about their child.

Maidupmum Tue 15-Mar-16 16:04:06

I'm a HT and would only have told you this in a 'listen to this crank letter' way. Your HT should write back to the parent with the simple response "Thank you very much for your letter, your comments have been noted". It's a catch-all response that was taught to me by a very experienced HT who used it to diffuse all manner of issues.

colander1 Tue 15-Mar-16 17:33:30

Was your HT joking about asking for parental approval for you to have time off? If not, then what on earth is the world of education coming to?

The point about scratching pencils may or may not be a valid one. However, taking this sort of complaint directly to the head is ridiculous and has a real sense of self-importance and arrogance about it. (As in, I am far too important to deal with the lowly teachers I will take my complaint straight to the top).

MidnightVelvetthe5th Tue 15-Mar-16 17:52:02

Perhaps the parent has been coming to the classroom to see you before or after school unfortunately at times when you weren't there but another member of staff was? Hence contacting the head & thinking your class is being shared? Or maybe they are listening to & believing their child's account of what's happening...depends on the age of the child, my 6 year old wouldn't be able to explain accurately how long a teacher was out of the classroom.

As a parent I would expect the school to manage its own staff & to provide cover when a teacher is absent for whatever reason, I would be a little hmm if asked to comment on a teacher's absence! I'm not a teacher so I have no idea of what the outside classroom time is required. I wouldn't expect a teacher to realise what out of office time I require for my job, its bizarre.

Don't take it personally OP smile

Flanks Tue 15-Mar-16 20:59:02

There will be a back story to this that precedes you.

What year is the child in? Have you discussed this with their previous class teacher? Is there anything in the student's file regarding learning difficulties and a history of conversations with parent? Focus on the child, rather than the complaint.

Try to be sympathetic here. I work at the other end of the education production line (16+) and the number of parents that have learned to 'fight the system, because at every stage they are treated as if they are idiots (even if they are dotty!) is really quite alarmingly many!

CheckpointCharlie2 Wed 16-Mar-16 22:09:36

Can you get them some ear defenders? We have a load of pairs in every classroom in our school for children to get if they need quiet. We have to buy new ones every year as they pull the foam out (grrrrrrr) but they are great.

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