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Classroom Conflicts: When Should Parents Step In?

Classroom gossip is most definitely not my thing, but I experienced quite an interesting school run this morning...

28/01/2015

 

Having difficult conversations

As it was such a miserable, drizzly day, I had made an even more concerted effort to scurry off, head down, back to my car before being caught up in it all. But, before I knew it, there I was - hood pulled down to keep the rain off my make-up - discussing the latest episode of school drama.

Luckily, I happen to quite like the mum I was talking to, and our conversation really did make me sit up and think.

Apparently, her mixed race son had been called an extremely derogatory and racist word by a girl in class. This is not the first time the girl has used such language and it seems to be getting worse, so clearly there are issues at home and equally it is not being dealt with effectively at school.

What course of action should be taken?

As a parent, when you're quite rightly feeling furious, the initial feeling is to cause an enormous ruckus, but of course this is not desirable and would only upset the classroom balance. An emotional, angry confrontation between parents is probably not going to get results.

The main priority is to nip things in the bud and restore calm - not always easy in these circumstances, especially given the nature of what has been said.

So, do you give yourself time to calm down before quietly pulling the parent to one side, or should you call a school meeting with the Headteacher and classroom staff?

Under more mild and usual circumstances I would say definitely sort it out directly with the parent. But when it's a more serious and emotive issue such as this, I would imagine it being more beneficial to involve the school staff.

Getting the right people involved

It's best that the school authorities come down hard on this type of thing from the off. This would surely instil an early sense of wariness of authority in the child, rather than receiving a 'telling off' from a potentially irresponsible or uncaring parent.

There is no room for tolerance with an issue like this, but often the perpetrators have come from an unsettled or neglectful background; parents and staff may be more likely to steer clear of confrontation with the family, serving to breed more problems.

If issues are ignored, the child will think they can get away with more unacceptable behaviour. Both parents and staff have a duty to stop improper behaviour in our schools, and need to be as united as possible when dealing with them.

Jayne, Working Mum and Freelance Editor

 
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