Working with your child's school

What you can do

Your child’s school is your first point of contact and concerns about any issue relating to school is best resolved where it occurs – at the school.

It’s very important to see the school as your partner in your child’s educational journey and to establish a positive relationship with the leaders, teachers and other staff.

Schools need to know if you have any concerns about your child's education. Teaching and learning works best when parents and schools work together to solve any problems.

Some parents will have had unfortunate and regrettable experiences of bullying in their own school life. Try not to let these get in the way of working collaboratively with your child’s teachers to solve any problems.

Schools have very clear responsibilities to prevent and manage bullying and to create safe and supportive learning environments for your children.

Before you approach your child's teacher or school, be sure to make an appointment.

  • be clear about the issues you want to discuss
  • focus on the facts and the things that affect your child
  • remember you may not have all the facts relating to the matter you want to raise
  • think about how the matter could be resolved
  • be informed by checking the Department's and the school's policies and guidelines
  • be realistic about what the school can do.

Information below relates to what policies and approaches to bullying you can expect to find in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

New South Wales Schools

Parents/carers can refer to these policies, which guide the development of policies in your school. You have a right to see your school’s policies and you should be asked to participate in policy development and/or review.
https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/policies/student-discipline-in-government-schools-policy

Under the provisions of this policy, it is stated that ‘All students and staff have the right to be treated fairly and with dignity in an environment free from disruption, intimidation, harassment, victimisation and discrimination. To achieve this, all schools are expected to maintain high standards of discipline.’

Principals have a responsibility ‘for ensuring a safe, secure and harmonious work environment for students and staff.’
https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/policies/bullying-preventing-and-responding-to-student-bullying-in-schools-policy

Under this policy, parents have a right to see the school’s Anti-bullying Plan that has been developed in collaboration with members of the school community.

This policy is very comprehensive and outlines the responsibilities of the Principal, the staff of the school, the students, parents/caregivers as well as members of the school community.

Please look at the link about to see what you, as parent/caregiver are entitled to expect from your school.

Leader, Behaviour Services, 9244 5340 is the person to contact if you have a concern.

Queensland Schools

Education Queensland’s website specifically states that:

‘Education Queensland does not tolerate bullying in any form, and schools use a range of proactive strategies to deal with bullying behaviour.
All students and parents are encouraged to raise concerns they have with their school principal immediately so that action can be taken to address the problem.
Every state school includes strategies for addressing bullying, including cyber bullying, in its Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students.’

It is quite clear that schools are expected to take a whole-school approach to ‘creating a safe, supportive and disciplined learning environment, where students can learn, free from bullying harassment and violence.’

Parents/caregivers can look at this document (http://behaviour.education.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/preventing-bullying-violence/working-together-toolkit.doc) to see what bullying is – and is not and what the expectations are of students who are bullied, who bully, the school leaders, teacher and other school staff and the school community as a whole.

You can expect to be able to see the school’s anti-bullying policy, together with the procedural steps staff take to respond to incidents of bullying. It might be in student diaries, a printed document or on the schools website or intranet.

Victorian Schools

The Victorian Education Department (DET) website states: ‘A Bullying Prevention Policy should be developed collaboratively with staff, students, parents or care givers and the wider school community’ and all schools are mandated to have one (http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/bullystoppers/Pages/prinprevent.aspx)

The policy might be part of ‘student engagement’ policy and approaches as research has shown that students who are enthusiastic about their learning are more successful academically.
You, as parents/caregivers, have the right to see the school’s policy and seek satisfaction about how bullying incidents are being managed.

A bullying policy does the following things:

  • acknowledge the need to develop a shared understanding across the whole school community that all forms of bullying are unacceptable
  • provide clear definitions of what is and what is not bullying, including descriptions of the different subtypes of bullying
  • provide clear advice on the roles and responsibilities of students, parents, caregivers and teachers for preventing and responding to bullying behaviour
  • include strategies for developing and implementing whole school bullying prevention programs
  • support the whole school community to recognise and respond appropriately to bullying, harassment and victimisation when they see it
  • include clear procedures for students, teachers, other school staff and parents for reporting incidents of bullying to the school
  • recognise the importance of consistently responding to all incidents of bullying that have been reported to the school and ensure that planned interventions are used to respond to these incidents
  • ensure that support is provided to any student who has been affected by, engaged in or witnessed bullying behaviour
  • provide regular updates, within the bounds of privacy legislation, to parents or caregivers about the management of incidents
  • seek to identify patterns of bullying behaviour and respond effectively to these
  • seek to identify 'hot spots' for bullying in the school environment and find ways to address these hot spots (e.g. greater adult supervision, changing the physical environment so bullying is less likely to occur)
  • include procedures for reporting critical incidents involving assaults, threats, intimidation or harassment via the Student Critical Incident Unit 
  • include information about parent complaints to the Department. For more information, see: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/contact/Pages/complaintslanding.aspx
  • include procedures and contact information for the Victoria Police Youth Resource Officer (YRO) where appropriate
  • include contact information for appropriate support services such as Kids Helpline
  • develop a communications plan to promote the Policy and ensure the whole school community understands the school's bullying prevention practices
  • ensure the Policy is easily accessible within the school community and published on the school's website
  • review the Policy with the school community annually
  • in addition to the annual review, monitor bullying in the school community, and if necessary, review and modify the Policy accordingly.

You can make complaints here Parent complaints about government schools. If your complaint is not resolved, it is referred to an independent office.

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