Something to say to your school?
- Think (about what you want to say)
- Wait (seek an appropriate time)
- Communicate (clearly and respectfully)
In keeping with Parents Victoria’s mission, vision and goals – our objective is to encourage, influence and impact school families to be at their best when connecting to their school community. Especially as we all restart, restore and reset our relationships between home and school. Some students and their families have flourished and have had further insights into how their child learns. On the other hand, others have had challenges during this experience, causing distress when having to raise concerns with the school.
On Friday, 26 November the Victorian Government launched a new Respectful Behaviours within the School Community Policy, which promotes the importance of respectful and collaborative relationships between parents and carers and school staff. The Department of Education and Training (DET) worked with PV on the policy and we are pleased DET incorporated our feedback.
There was media coverage in the Herald Sun and an interview on ABC 774 radio when the policy was launched, focusing on the aggressive and abusive behaviour by parents towards school staff.
What DET is saying
DET’s main messages to Victorian Government School communities are:
“Everyone in the school community has the right to a safe and healthy learning environment and workplace,” and “It’s important that adults in school communities continue to treat each other with respect and kindness”.
Schools are doing their best, in accordance with the Chief Health Officer directions, in maintaining student learning onsite in a safe and healthy learning environment. This is not easy when they are the “meat in the sandwich” – having to deal with the responsibilities placed upon them during Covid times. DET has explained there has been an increase in abusive behaviour from parents towards school staff. PV would like to remind everyone that schools are the meat in the sandwich and we’d like to remind everyone not to shoot the messenger. Schools are acting on government directions as DET employees.
This policy is linked to the new laws introduced by the Andrews Government in June 2021 as PV has informed you previously. The new law will strengthen protections for school staff against parent and carer aggression by empowering authorised persons, such as principals, to issue School Community Safety Orders in response to harmful, threatening, abusive or disruptive behaviour at work. The new School Community Safety Order scheme will be introduced to all schools in mid-2022. The new laws will also allow schools to prohibit parents and carers from engaging in threatening or abusive communication through social media and other channels.
PV has always expressed strongly to the Victorian Government, our concerns around the future unintended consequences of School Community Safety Orders. PV actively promotes strengthened relationships between families and schools. If you have not already viewed our Relationship based Education (RbE) resource platform for parents and schools, take a look. This work aims to shift the school culture, especially when conflict occurs or mistakes are made, which impact on relationships. We all need to learn how to act not to react in any given situation – in order to prevent the harm it can have on our children, those involved and ourselves.
In keeping with this objective of doing better together, PV has just released our “catch phrase” message – Think. Wait. Communicate – to families when they have something to say to their school!
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