Education Eye: Problems at school? Pick your battles, play it cool

Catherine Stoker
Catherine Stoker

It is a worrying time for parents when an issue emerges regarding some aspect of their child’s life at school. Often they are unsure when to raise it and which communication channel is best.

Sometimes lack of knowledge leads to insufficient confidence to raise it with the school. Here are a few tips that may help you with effective communication.

Pick your battles. Give rational consideration to your worry rather than flying off the handle. Form a balanced view, taking account of all angles. Is it of enough significance to formally raise it?

Remember that your child is unlikely to be in the right or truthful all of the time. Talk with them, try to get to the bottom of the issue and what might be causing it.

You will then be able to talk to the right staff at the school when you have all the facts.

Avoid trying to resolve an issue regarding another child yourself, by talking to the child or their parents directly. Always address problems via the school. Addressing concerns diplomatically and reasonably is always a better option.

Familiarise yourself with the school pastoral care structure and follow the correct process for raising concerns.

You will find details on the website or in the parent handbook. For example, it is unlikely that your issue will be well received if you go straight to the head, before first trying to deal with it at tutor level.

Read reports, effort and assessment grades carefully so you are alerted early and can deal with issues promptly. Identifying potential problems sooner rather than later makes resolution far easier. Burying your head in the sand seldom works.

Get to know key staff. Always attend school events such as parents’ evenings. Keeping in touch regularly will ensure you have a good working relationship with staff should a concern arise.

> The Independent Education Consultants offers advice for parents on all aspects of education. This ranges from choosing a school, assessment of special needs, transition at 7+, 11+, 13+ and 16+ to career planning and applying to university.