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‘Aggressive’ parents are demanding teachers email and message them on apps 24/7, survey suggests

Eleanor Busby
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‘Aggressive’ parents are demanding teachers email and message them on apps 24/7, survey suggests

“Aggressive” parents are demanding teachers email and message on evenings and weekends – and the “unbearable” communication has led to some staff considering quitting their jobs, a survey finds.

The growing use of apps by schools is making it easier for parents to contact teachers directly 24/7, adding to their workload and affecting their health, the NASUWT teaching union has said.

One in seven are expected to communicate with parents electronically in their own time every day, according to the survey of 1,500 teachers, while nearly one in five are expected to do this several times a week.

Nearly three in four (71 per cent) of teachers say their email addresses are made available to parents despite the majority of them saying they did not give permission for their personal details to be shared.

Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT, said many members have said they are getting “a lot more aggressive contact” from parents in emails, social media and apps such as Class Dojo.

One teacher told the union: “The communication with parents via email has become unbearable and I am resigning from a pastoral position as a result.

“Parents may be rude and aggressive in emails (and staff may be too at times) and parents expect to be able to contact teachers 24/7.”

Another teacher said: “We are told to have emails on our phones which means that we receive emails non-stop.

“If I receive an email for a parent with a ‘gripe’ it upsets me and affects my mood at home during evenings and weekends.”

Ms Keates added that a lot of members say parents are more likely to fire off an email, or write in an app, accusing a teacher of making a poor decision against their child without hearing all the facts.

She said: “ What teachers have told us is that there does seem to be a lot more of parents not just questioning what children are doing but taking at face value what they are saying, and that results in them getting an aggressive email when actually there is another side to the story.”

The survey also revealed that two in five teachers often receive work-related emails during periods of sickness absence.

And one teacher said their headteacher contacted them on WhatsApp when they were off sick with cancer asking them to work from home.

“Teachers are not just facing the intrusion of those who manage them into their private lives, but there is now an unreasonable expectation that they are available at the convenience of parents,” Ms Keates said.

In January, education secretary Damian Hinds said teachers should not have to email outside of office hours, adding that the situation for teachers is “intense”.

He called on schools to review their school practices to reduce workload and “shift away from an email culture” to free teachers up.

But Ms Keates said: “[Mr Hinds] clearly has no concept of either the scale or the nature of the problem. It’s home invasion by email which is the problem.

“It’s the tyranny teachers are facing in their inbox, which is all part of an anything-goes management culture this government has allowed to flourish across schools, where teachers’ health and wellbeing is not even given a second thought.”