The increasing number of people using social media sites has had both positive and adverse effects on the reputation of schools.

An effective tool for communication, it can unfortunately also be a mechanism for parents to bypass the school’s complaints procedures and publicly criticise the school and its staff.

How should schools respond?

  • Communicate more widely: It is useful to remind parents regularly, and particularly during/after an incident, of the correct routes for raising concerns.
  • Gather Evidence: Establish exactly what has been posted, by whom and how widely it has been shared.
  • Reassure staff: Allegations can be very intimidating and leaders should offer support to all, and individual staff.
  • Meet with parents or carers: To seek to resolve the issue and advise them of the correct complaints procedure.
  • Communicate more widely: It is useful to remind parents regularly, and particularly during/after an incident, of the correct routes for raising concerns.
  • Report offending material: To the site administrators.

Further Action

If the matter is not resolved:

  • Arrange a further meeting with the chair of governors: To support the school’s position, address the complaint and re-iterate the impact on the school community.
  • Take legal advice: This may result initially in a letter warning that malicious allegations could result in legal action. NB it is illegal in certain circumstance for anyone to name staff involved in child protection allegations and breaches should be reported to the Police.

It is unfortunate that social media sites are used in this way, but we must remember that in most cases such sites can be positive, enabling engagement between school, parents and the community in ways not previously possible.

Nicki Harris

Nicki Harris

Nicki joined the Education HR Team in 1989, following completion of her psychology degrees and has a Post-Graduate Certificate in Employment Law. Nicki co-manages the HR team with Colin Hooker and her main responsibilities are leadership of the support, business and development functions services. She manages the provision of model policies, procedures and guidance to customers, pay and conditions issues and the training offer. Nicki has worked with the Local Government Association over the years on various projects around pay, terms and conditions and is an Advisor to the National Employers Organisation for School Teachers (NEOST).