Some parents have seen it as “fair game” to comment on teachers’ competence and to interfere during online lessons amid the pandemic, a union leader has said.
More than one in four teachers have been criticised by parents or carers in the past year, including “parent bombing” during remote lessons, according to a survey by the NASUWT teaching union.
Speaking at the union’s virtual annual conference, general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said parents have been in the “classroom environment” of their children due to months of remote education.
He called for schools to take “a tough line” on criticism from parents – including “abusive parent bombing” during online lessons – by setting out the behaviour expectations that they have for families.
His comments came after a survey of more than 4,000 NASUWT members found that nearly a fifth (18%) of teachers have been subjected to verbal abuse from parents or carers in the past 12 months, while 4% have been subjected to discriminatory language by the families of children.
The poll suggests that 27% have been subjected to criticism from parents or carers over the past year – including parent “bombing” during remote lessons.
When asked about the survey’s findings, Dr Roach told the PA news agency: “You know if your kid is sat in their front room, and the parent is sat opposite them, the parent is in the learning environment.
“And some parents feel that it’s fair game for them to comment on how the teacher is teaching, what the teacher is teaching, and to comment on the competence or otherwise of the teacher.”
Dr Roach added that the majority of parents have been supportive of teachers during the pandemic and their efforts with remote learning, but he said some members had reported “abusive parent bombing”.
He said: “There are some parents that feel that it’s their right to interfere.”
The NASUWT leader said the relationship with the home and school had evolved because of “enforced home learning” during the pandemic.
Dr Roach told PA: “Schools need to be taking a tough line on it. Schools need to be absolutely clear about the kind of behaviour expectations that they have both for pupils, but also for parents.
“One of the things that concerns us is we’ve had members who reported to us that they’ve reported concerns about, for example, abusive parent bombing during online lessons and they’ve been told ‘You’re just going to have to work your way through it, you’re just going to have to get on with it’.
“Well frankly that’s not good enough. You know if a parent were to arrive onsite in a school and was to be verbally or physically abusing a member of staff, schools have powers and there is a duty on schools in relation to health, safety and welfare in terms of their duty of care.”