Thursday, September 05, 2013

Handling parents' expectations in our schools

I want to share my views on how to manage issues involving parents in our schools. These issues are similar to customer complaints in businesses.

When a parent contacts the teacher or the school, the type of interaction should be identified as follows:

a) seek clarification, i.e. to get facts
b) lodge a complaint

The type of issue would probably falls into the following:
a) alleged mistreatment by the teacher
b) alleged mistreatment by classmates
c) alleged poor performance by teacher, e.g. not teaching the child properly.
d) school facilities or environment

If the parent is in "seeking clarification" mode, the teacher or school staff can cooperate in giving the relevant information. The parent should avoid the type of questions that amount to interrogation or allegation misconduct during this phase.

If the parent wishes to file a complaint, after getting the relevant facts, the process should be done in a formal manner, i.e. a written and signed statement should be obtained, and relevant facts should be provided.

The handling of the complaint by the school can go through two stages:
a) the first stage is to seek an amicable solution without going through too much trouble for all parties. Often, an apology or acknowledgement may suffice. The case can be closed easily.
b) If the matter is more serious, a more formal process may be carried out, e.g. a disciplinary inquiry. This should be quite rare.

We have to accept that in our daily lives, mistakes can be made and they are not serious. Often, these mistakes are unintended and unexpected, and should be excused. We should not expect perfection.

Most of our schools, with the long experience, probably handle the issues from parents well. Perhaps, it is a matter of making better communication with parents and the public.

I hope that these ideas are helpful to the schools, parents and the public.

1 comment:

Tan Choon Hong said...

I am with you on the need for schools, teachers and parents to be more accommodating and less confrontational in minor matters and work together as partners in the interest of the pupils. Problems arise mainly because some schools are afraid to admit mistakes or shortcomings for fear of falling into the radar of the ministry. And some parents forget they have responsibilities for upbringing that no school have the power or resources to shoulder.

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