VALUE OUR STAFF
Last week we celebrated World Teachers Day. This event is a great way to acknowledge and thank teachers everywhere for the wonderful work that they do.
I believe most teachers choose this career path because they want to make a difference in people’s lives. The role is a vocation, a calling.
I also believe teachers have the best interests of a young person at heart and schools like St Paul’s exist to support young people to become flourishing human beings. The job is demanding but also very rewarding, particularly when you witness the graduation of a group of fine young men and women at the conclusion of an academic year.
I would like to publicly thank our staff, including our associate staff (non-teachers). They are a remarkable group of people who regularly go above and beyond what is required of them. Their commitment to your children is particularly evident at this time of year when we hold so many extraordinary events and activities including: the Celebration of Achievements, Con Brio, Foundation Day, Remembrance Day, and Valedictory.
It’s not all roses though. Witness the constant debate in the media about what teachers should be “focusing” on. I’d argue that no other occupation (except perhaps politicians and sports stars) have so much public scrutiny applied to their job performance.
Sadly, this critique isn’t limited to the newspapers. Indeed, I was saddened this week to hear of a couple of instances of what I consider to be inappropriate criticism and behaviour from a small number of parents towards staff.
I’m not taking issue with the legitimacy of the concerns held by these parents. Rather, the manner in which these concerns were aired was disappointing. In particular, a number of instances of unfair criticism written about teachers on social media has left me a little crestfallen.
Facebook can be a great tool, but it can also be a great “cover” to express views that someone wouldn’t dare say to a person directly. I am aware that it is also used as an outlet for people’s grievances, but, like “car park gossip”, the concerns aired are rarely raised through the proper channels. They are seldom, if ever, constructive. Usually they are mean-spirited.
As a Headmaster and as a School we are always open to feedback. Indeed, we provide numerous forums for parents to engage with teachers and the School. My diary (along with that of Mrs Connolly’s) is regularly filled with meetings with parents to discuss their concerns, observations and questions.
What I am hoping to draw a firmer line on, though, are the bullying tactics that people use to get their own way. It is the mark of a bully when people resort to outright abuse to express their demands on what they want. In particular, I will not stand for the use of foul language and verbal abuse of staff members by parents. We wouldn’t tolerate this behaviour among students and nor will we do so in our parent community.
Some members of the community may believe they are merely expressing their view on behalf of others, but the reality is that often the “others” are too intimidated by their behaviour to disagree. Even sadder is that their behaviour is displayed in front of their children, all but guaranteeing the continuation of the type of bullying that we all want stamped out of Schools and society.
Differences of opinion will always occur, and sometimes we have to accept that we do have a difference of opinion. Sometimes, the School’s answer to ideas or complaints will be: “no”.
However, we should never allow that difference of opinion to undermine relationships or lead to a degradation of behaviour, which in the end is disrespectful and unwarranted.
I do want to stress that the vast majority of our parent community behave exceptionally. We are very grateful to partner with you in helping our students flourish. In fact, I want to particularly thank all those parents who regularly express their gratitude for the work our teachers do.
Our commitment is to your children. Our desire is to work with you in partnership.
We have a wonderful community and I look forward to working alongside our parent community to make it even better in 2019.