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Teachers are increasingly being exposed to inappropriate verbal abuse, criticism and relentless contact from parents via social media and emails, with the pandemic and the switch to remote education driving up incidents of ‘parentbombing’.

Members of NASUWT Scotland-The Teachers’ Union are warning that teachers are increasingly under pressure to provide 24 hour support to pupils via email and other technologies, and that this is driving a rise in parents contacting staff, in some cases to berate or criticise teachers.

This has been exacerbated by the move to remote education during the pandemic which has resulted in incidents of ‘parentbombing’ where parents intervene during live online lessons.

Members of NASUWT Scotland will be calling for greater action by schools and for national guidance for employers on appropriate parental contact at the Union’s Scotland Annual Conference, which is being held virtually today (Saturday).

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“Parental engagement with pupils’ learning is important in supporting attainment and progress and parents have a legitimate right to understand what their child is learning at school.

“However, contact between parents and schools must be appropriate, proportionate and respectful, both of the fact that teachers need a work/life balance and of teachers’ pedagogical knowledge, experience and skills.

“Even before the pandemic teachers were reporting a rise in inappropriate contact and comments being made about them on social media by parents, but the shift to remote teaching over periods of the last year has further encouraged a blurring of the boundaries between home and school. This has led to some parents inappropriately intervening in live lessons, relentlessly contacting teachers in evenings and weekends with questions or comments about their child’s work and using social media to contact teachers or publically criticise their teaching.

“Schools need to be absolutely clear about the kind of behaviour expectations that they have both for pupils, but also for parents. The response of too many schools when teachers report inappropriate contact or behaviour from parents is to shrug their shoulders and tell teachers to get on with it.

“Regardless of whether abuse or harassment takes place online or physically on school premises, we expect that schools will take seriously their duty of care to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and make clear to parents the expectations for acceptable parental contact and engagement.

“National guidance is also needed to help reinforce to schools and parents the expectations on appropriate conduct and to ensure that teachers are protected from harassment and abuse.”

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