NZSTA Annual Conference 2016
We all have to deal with complaints in some shape or form which is not always an easy task. Start with the Procedure for Dealing with Concerns and Complaints at School. If people have been through the complaints process and are not satisfied, they will talk about it outside of the school. They will look at a range of other avenues such as Ministry etc.
The current complaints environment:
There has been an increase in the number of written complaints. There is currently no specialist body who handles educational complaints. Some are through the Ombudsman. More legal challenges to Board decisions. If procedures are not followed, there is usually a case for complaint.
Is is easier to submit complaints. Often these are made before talking things through or having calmed down. There is a blur in the line between the verbal and written complaints. Email interactions have minimised face to face communication and personalisation. People are more stressed. Some over compensation may occur. There is an increased sense that Education is important. Perception that complaints will be handled quickly.
Tips for staff:
As Board, your responsibility is to take care of staff. The Principal is responsible for managing conflict. There are varying degrees of how skilled principals are at dealing with conflict.
CARP-Control, Acknowledge, Refocus, Problem solve.
Control your initial emotional defence.
Acknowledge the complainant and let off steam
Refocus the conversation
Principals and teachers can sometimes talk to parents as if they are children. Behaviour may be an issue but the time may not be right to discuss. Prioritise student safety.
Anger and aggression are not the same.
Do not express opinions straight away. Record complaint and investigate. Never attack, accuse or belittle a complainant.
Principal should bear the brunt of complaints as it is their job to keep staff safe and Boards job to keep the Principal safe.
Natural Justice Obligations:
Give Notice Give Information Give Opportunity to be Heard
Demonstrate Independence Give Reasons
Section 23...give reasons for decisions
Two things...behaviour and issue. Make sure the issue is what gets focussed on not the behaviour. Complaint may be reasonable, conduct may be unreasonable.
Official Information Act: