Correct Procedure for School Complaints?

7 Replies



Got ourselves in a bit of a predicament regarding school. Children hate new school and the first four weeks have been hell. Had a good week last week so thought things might have calmed down now. Went to parents info meeting last night for my daughters class and the teacher spoke to me after the meeting to say that my daughter had told some friend or neighbour (not sure if its a friend from this school or from next village or an adult she's meant to have said this to?) that her teacher "hurt" (shook) the children in class! This statement had apparently been relayed to my sons teacher who then relayed it to my daughters teacher - then to me. I told her that she had problems settling into this school but that I would speak to her and get her to come in and apologise to the teacher if she did say this. Agreed and symathised with her that this was very bad for her. Duly spoke severly to daughter and son and she's adament that she hasn't said anything. I don't know whether to believe her or not, because we've heard some really conflicting things about one of the teachers in this school - although admitedly, this teacher is really nice. I know that I've added fuel to the fire by asking things about this school and trying to find out what my rights would be if anything untoward was to happen to my children. (Think that she could have said something stupid in a jokey manner. Not trying to defend her for this but she is 8 and wouldn't have thought of the consequences.) Husband said as we are unsure - not to take her to say sorry but that I should do it alone. I went at lunch time to try to reassure the teacher that she had been spoken to, said she hadn't said anything but now fully understands how important it is NOT to say anything negative about a teacher (outside of our home). Unfortunately, the teacher won't seem to accept this and because she knows I have my worries about what goes on in this school, wants to have a meeting with me, my husband, her and the other teacher who heard this. I told her that I would take the meeting only if the person who allegedly said it was also there. She could be just trying to make me feel better, but I really have my doubts about this school and would prefer to just let things rest as they are so that I can judge things for myself. Have a feeling though that they want to put us on the spot as they are continually nit picking at us and the children for the slightest little thing because the children have had a hard time settling in and not liking the school. If I have this meeting, am I right to ask for the "third" person to be there? Should I ask that the Director is also present? Should I just write to apologise angain and say that if the verbal and written apology is not accepted then I would prefer to forget the whole incident as the children have only finally settled here and I don't want to rock the boat anymore? Should I write to someone within the Education department to make sure that they are there at the meeting too? Who would I contact???? Judging from the AI postings here lately and the meetings I've went to with this school, I'm not the only one with stressed out children! Kids eehh!!!Only Me!

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Pandora29-388840 1159889717

Good moaning

I really feel with you; can't offer any help due to lack of knowledge - but am I glad that I don't have any children. It must be hell for all children suffering from this kind of attention.

All the best

The Box

BikerG-394718 1159891447

this is a pretty normal response from a school in this situation.  Discussions (in the UK we would call it confrontation but it isn't seen as negatively here) to get to the bottom of issues like this usually involve all the people concerned so that no-one is speaking for anyone else and it isn't just hearsay.  If your French isn't up to it, take along someone to interpret, but make sure they are impartial and can relay both sides of the conversation without getting involved.  If you have issues outside this direct incident it is something you should take up with the Directeur/Directrice (and again you can request a meeting with the teacher concerned, yourself, the Directeur/rice and an independent interpreter ..if you are REALLY concerned you can request someone from the Academie  - Dept of Education) - but this specific meeting is not being held for you to air all your grievances, more to try to get to the bottom of the initial problem.  Don't worry about the meeting.  Write everything down before hand so you don't forget stuff if things get heated.  Try to avoid negative comparisons with the UK (such as "she never had any problems in her old school' or " this would not have happened in the UK") as this will only bring about a defensive response as it appears critical.  Yes, you CAN and SHOULD be critical and are ABSOLUTELY entitled to take your daughters side, but try very hard to see this as objectively as possible.  Is the school having problems coping with an English child possible at a different level than the class.  Maybe she is bored academically but struggling lingusitically.  Perhaps your daughter is feeling stressed about the change in school and might be behaving differently in her new school than in her old one.  Apologies for the length of this post! I have been here before - it ended up being a positve outcome even though I flew off the handle in the beginning!!

Biker Boy

orme-384975 1159891561

I know that I've added fuel to the fire by asking things about this school and trying to find out what my rights would be if anything untoward was to happen to my children.

Have you been doing this in front of your children?  Don't want to teach my grandmother to suck eggs, but it wouldn't reassure them much to hear that would it, and kids do take such things on board easily.  They would be expecting trouble, and any little problem could be blown out of all proportion.

Anyway, if I were you I would go along to this meeting (husband too).  The person who is supposed to have said it may not want to attend the meeting, and no-one could make her (or him).  It's not a court of law!  It's better surely to have a quiet talk with the teachers, telling them your fears and worries and where you get them from and let them reassure you.  They might then also understand why the children were wary at first.  That is really what it's all about, isn't it?

matrixmum 1159892304

Biker Boy - I think you should come with me to the meeting!!!

Orme: You are absolutely right about discussing my worries in front of the children but we've had such horrible problems since the beginning of September that it's been too difficult not to speak about it at times. I've had a telling off from matrixmum number 1 (my mum!) for letting the children feed off of my concerns. I can now see exactly where I've gone wrong, so just want this last week to continue without incidence for the children and am worried that having a meeting with them will stess out my children even more than they were originally.

Only Me!

Stevem4 1159892313

How awful for you.  I had to deal with a similar situation, so here's my advice.

INSIST that the director is there, and if I were you I would insist that you have a meeting with the director beforehand.  Explain to the director that this is a storm in a teacup and playground gossip, that should not be concerning a professional adult or yourself.  You yourself and daughter have made no official complaints, so in effect you are having a meeting about what some 8 year olds have said to each other in the playground!  Your daughter may even have said it!  Children do say such things, especially if she dislikes the teacher, or if she has picked up from you that you don't like the teacher, BUT it does not warrant a meeting, and a teacher should certainly not be overly concerned about 3rd hand gossip.  Hopefully this would diffuse the situation, otherwise it's likely that it may erupt when you meet the teacher concerned, which would not be productive, as from experience, it can create a backlash against your child from the teaching staff.


There are official channels you can go through, I don't personally know them, but I am sure that if you are sufficiently concerned, you can seek professional help.  But before it gets to that point.  I would advise a meeting with the director alone and try to smooth things over, before it turns into a year of unnecessary backward and forwarding.  I would also advise that if you cannot speak fluent french, then take a fluent speaker with you.

matrixmum 1159909718

This problem has just gotten majorly worse! Quizzed the child in question again after school today and was told that the teacher who heard the "comments" pulled her and my son aside in the playground yesterday morning. She asked if she was happy with the teacher etc and then told her that she had heard from someone that my daughter said her teacher squeezed her face. Not sure if my daughter was meant to have also said other things like "She shakes children". She told my son and daughter that she knows this because she knows a lot of people in our village. My daughter said that  yes it did happen but that it didn't hurt (or didn't hurt too much so nothing to worry about).

In the afternoon, my daughter was pulled aside by the teacher in question (who I know and believe to be really nice and kind as my son had her last year and loved her!). She asked her if she was happy and asked why she had said something like that to someone. My daughter told her that she had lied to the first teacher and that she didn't say anything. She told me that she was scared that she was getting into trouble for doing something so just said anything to the first teacher - although - I don't believe her.

Nobody from this site would like to have been a fly on our wall after I heard all of this!!!!!! Fristly, because she has said to one teacher that it did happen, I've told her that she will be punished and that she will go directly to the teacher concerned on Thursday to apologise.

I think that the only recourse I have is to write a letter to the teacher asking her to please accept the verbal apology I gave her today, and the written apology and hope that this, along with my daughters apology will suffice. I've told my daughter that if she wants to punish her - she can -and that she can add this to the punishment(s) she'll be getting from us!

Still not at all happy with the situation. I don't think that I could have a meeting with anyone from that school at the moment, without sounding very bitter and twisted about the last 4-5 weeks. It wouldn't solve anything - but - if they insist, then I think that I might have to spend the next few days writing down everything that's upset just so that I take the meeting in an orderly fashion. Also still not happy that she could approach my children with "hearsay", without me being present. If she'd heard it directly from her mouth, yes - but not via a third unknown party.

Wish I'd knew about the yesterday incidents before I got my knickers in such a twist today! Feel like a bit of a fool now - albeit - a slightly justified fool because of how terrified these kids have been since the start of the new term.

Just off to think of some really decent punishments to met out to this silly, stupid kid of mine! 

Only Me!

orme-384975 1159913113

You know, your little girl has probably been punished enough, indirectly, by all the problems this has stirred up.  I expect she has learnt a hard lesson and now needs to put it all behind her.  Her teachers have lots of experience of children and their ways (and parents and their funny ways too!) and know how to deal with it for the best especially if this teacher is as nice as you found her.  Whether you decide to go to the meeting or not, I'm sure everything will settle down now and your children will soon have forgotten most of it.  It's always the parents who suffer most in this sort of thing!  Bon courage.

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