School leaders often have to deal with complaints from parents about their school’s approach. The rise of social media in particular is complicating matters as parents now have many outlets in which to exchange views.
Schools cannot control what parents say online and leaders often face difficult choices in how to respond. On the one hand, posts can cause widespread damage to reputation and morale and when staff face sustained and hurtful criticism schools should act to protect them. On the other hand, challenging allegations in the public domain can have an incendiary effect and fan the flames of discontent; in many cases the best reaction may be to do nothing. Other options include arranging meetings to try to address parental concerns and/or send a general communication to all parents regarding the use of social media and the importance of following the school’s complaints procedures.
In some circumstances, comments go beyond expressing opinion and may be defamatory. Potential courses of action could include contacting the site host and/or the police, sending a warning letter referring to any parental codes of conduct that may be in place and/or barring the author from the school site. For further information and advice on this issue, please see www.gov.uk/government/publications/schoolcomplaints-procedures