Parents unhappy with the quality of education their children are receiving from private schools are suing them, as reported by Graeme Paton from The Telegraph. The headmasters of private schools are increasingly on the receiving end of legal action from unsatisfied parents because of poor grades and low quality teaching standards.
Headmasters have to face new problems as times goes on: more and different drug use, new problems with funding, angry/aggressive parents… and the list goes on. Therefore, when headmasters interview pupils for a place at their school they also interview the parents, and this allows them to better judge if the school’s values are understood by them, which in turn will decrease the chances of problems caused by parents at some point in the future.
It follows research by a leading private schools’ organisation earlier this year that cited “unrealistic demands” from parents has one of the biggest single headaches facing headmasters.
David Smellie, head of the schools group at the law firm Farrer & Co, said disputes with parents could be “very emotionally draining” for heads.
A book Smellie wrote states that headmasters can get as many as 5 to 6 angry emails from parents per day. Making them all happy can be a nightmare for the teachers, and when they decide to pursue legal action finding a solution can be difficult — especially when the demands of the parents cannot be met because funding is a problem.
The reason why some parents so aggressively demand a top-notch education is because they are themselves successful and understand the importance of education’s role. When they suspect that the education standards at their school are relaxed, they don’t sit around and do nothing.
“There are a lot of alpha males and alpha females amongst the parent bodies,” he said. “They’re very intelligent, they’ve been very successful, and they don’t like not succeeding.
An instance of recent legal action occurred when the parents of a student were promised good references once the pupils were withdrawn from the school, and once the references were not given the parents sued the school for 50,000 pounds ($80,000 USD).
Another example of parents suing a school came after a student was suspended because of claims that he was dealing cannabis. The parents said it was unreasonable and took the matter to the legal system.
The best defense for school leaders seems to be a proactive approach that filters out the parents that are likely to be a problem.
Ralph Townsend, headmaster of Winchester College, said: “Part of my job is to put off the people who are never going to understand or appreciate the school’s core values and ethos.”