Maurie Mulheron isn’t so sure more parents are behaving badly in schools.
But the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) president is adamant schools are no places for anyone who behaves inappropriately.
That’s why Mr Mulheron has thrown his support behind a new School Community Charter aimed at reinforcing the importance of collaborative and respectful learning environments in NSW public schools.
Education Minister Rob Stokes said the new charter will help students, staff and parents clearly understand how they can contribute to building positive school communities.
Mr Mulheron said most reasonable people would accept the charter.
“I think the relationship between staff and parents on a whole is usually a positive one but there are from time to time unacceptable incidents,” he said.
“This [charter] reminds everyone that the relationship has to be a positive one….and parents who visit the school who are disrespectful or aggressive or threatening in their behaviour has no right to visit the school and may be denied access.”
Mr Mulheron said incidents where parents have visited schools without a meeting time and demanded to speak to teachers and have been threatening and insulting to the people in the front office, “were simply unacceptable”.
“This charter is a timely reminder that if you wish to make contact with a school, you have got to respect these people's workplace. And in a workplace you are entitled to be treated fairly and respectfully,” he said.
“Parents have got a right to have information communicated to them and to seek information but equally teachers and other staff at a school have a right to be treated in a respectful and courteous manner.”
Mr Stokes added that the Teachers Federation and principal and parent associations helped develop the charter.
“School community charters have long been a feature within independent and Catholic school systems and public schools deserve the same,” he said.
“Quality education requires everyone in a school community to work together.
“That means relationships built on honesty and mutual respect, and on timely, polite communication.
“It’s a question of developing a genuine partnership to support students, in which everyone is treated fairly and diversity is fully respected.”
With communication a key, the charter will ensure school staff take the time to speak to parents and carers when they can give their full attention.
The charter also provides a clear statement of the types of behaviours that should not be part of school communities to ensure respectful and collaborative communication.
- Aggressive or intimidating actions, such as violence, threatening gestures or physical proximity;
- Aggressive or intimidating language, including the use of obscenities, making sexist, racist or derogatory comments or using a rude or angry tone;
- Treating members of the school community differently due to aspects such as their religion or disability; and
- Inappropriate and time wasting communication.