Ask Brian: My son’s anxiety at school may be linked to his teacher. What can I do?
There is a five-stage process s for handing complaints which is important to follow
Where difficulties arise between parents and their children’s schools, there is an agreed resolution procedure. Photo: iStock
Question: My son is nine years of age and has become anxious and withdrawn. I think the problem relates to one teacher in the school, whose interactions with some students can often be difficult. What should I do?
Answer: Where difficulties arise between parents and their children’s schools, there is an agreed five-stage procedure which the INTO (Irish National Teachers’ Organisation) and primary school mangers have agreed. You should be able to find it if you search online for “INTO/management complaints procedure”.
You should follow these steps carefully, noting every engagement with the school on the matter, and keeping a record of any correspondence.
Firstly, you should seek an appointment with the teacher concerned to outline your observations of your son’s change in attitude to his school.
If that does not resolve the matter, go to the principal, outline the situation and see can they resolve it. If you are still unhappy, go to the chair of the board of management and see can they resolve it.
If the complaint is still not resolved, stage two involves lodging the complaint in writing to the chair of the board of management. The chair should bring the nature of the complaint to the relevant teacher in the hope of having it resolved within five working days of receipt of the complaint.
If the complaint is not resolved informally, stage three comes into play. In most cases, the chair should supply the teacher with a copy of the written complaint and arrange a meeting with the teacher and, where applicable, the principal with a view to resolving the complaint. This meeting should take place within 10 days of receipt of the complaint.
Should the complaint still be active, stage four involves the chair making a formal complaint to the board within 10 days of that meeting.
If the board deems that complaints are not substantiated, the teacher and complainant should be notified within three days of the board meeting.
However, if the board considers the complaint is substantiated or warrants further investigation, a number of things can happen.
The teacher is informed that an investigation is proceeding and is supplied with written evidence of the complaint.
The teacher should then supply a written statement to the board in response to complaint, and be given an opportunity to make a presentation to the board.
They are entitled to be accompanied and assisted by a friend at any such meeting.
The board may arrange a meeting with the complainant if it considers such to be required. The complainant is entitled to be accompanied and assisted by a friend at such meeting.
When the board has has completed its investigation, the chair should convey the board’s decision in writing to the teacher and the complainant within five days of the meeting.
Beyond this, there are other options for serious complaints, such as the fitness to teach process, overseen by the Teaching Council, the regulatory body for the profession.