Separating parents – practical issues for schools
When parents separate, their disagreements can sometimes have an effect on their child's school life and education. This can be difficult for the school to manage, particularly when both parents have parental responsibility. There may be disputes about who should pick the child up from school, who should receive information about the child, or the school may be asked to provide information in connection with legal proceedings.
The following practical steps can be useful in these situations:
- Always be neutral and be seen to be neutral. In any correspondence, make it clear that the school must be neutral and must act fairly and in accordance with its legal duties for any person with parental responsibility.
- Manage expectations. Parents must understand that the school cannot act as a mediator or determine disputes. In a situation where there is a dispute about who shall pick up a child from school and both parents have parental responsibility; the parents will need to resolve such a dispute between themselves, absent any specific circumstances.
- Where possible, avoid becoming involved in legal proceedings. Sometimes one parent may ask the school to express a view on the conduct of the other parent; for example in relation to legal proceedings on-going between them. Generally speaking, it is best to make it clear to the parent that the school cannot become involved in their legal proceedings.