Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

Not A Happy Bunny!


Clare
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello All.

 

I am just after another piece of advice really...

 

I received a phone call today (on my private home phone number) from the mother of the child with the selective mutism. To say I was quite shocked, would be an understatement, particularly as I haven't given out my phone number! Obviously the parents all have the number to the pre-school.

 

She informed me that she had been given my number by a senior member of staff and told to ring me over the weekend if she had any worries, concerns etc. So she did!!

 

I'm extremely annoyed that my personal number has been given out as this is a breach of confidentiality plus I have enough pre-school type work to be doing at home without the added extras of parents ringing me!

 

To make matters worse, the mother was making a complaint against me! She says that I have not been very helpful and feels as though I have tried to tell her how to raise her son with respect to taking him to see the Health Visitor etc. She is offended by my actions and is considering reporting me to Ofsted!!

 

I am not upset about this. I feel I have done everything I can to help her and her son. I'm just very, very angry!!

 

I've told her today that she can, by all means make a complaint to Ofsted. I've even given her my name in full so she gets the facts right. Maybe this wasn't the right thing to do, but to be honest, I can't see what action Ofsted will take against me. I've also told her to put her complaint in writing and address it to my boss and assured her that her complaint will be dealt with. My boss is pretty hot on complaints so I know it will get her full attention!

 

I'm more annoyed with the senior member of staff who divulged my personal contact details in the first place. I am, therefore, wondering what to do about it. I can't let it go, as it goes against our confidentiality policy. I wasn't in yesterday so I can only assume this was when the information was passed over.

 

I'd be interested to know what others would do in this situation. I'm starting to lose patience with the woman and rather than lose my temper, I would rather sort it out calmly and effectively.

 

Thanks for reading my little rant!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Clare,

I dont blame you for feeling angry! I would be furious!

I would speak to the overall boss first and see if she could tackle this on your behalf, this senior member of staff has acted very un professionally and should be told so!

Also speak to your boss about the parent but i am sure you have nothing to worry about on that score.

Good luck keep us posted on how you get on!

Ruth (Mottie)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know that feeling Clare. I went back to work after an illness a little while ago to find my telephone number written quite big on a post it by the telephone, which is in the middle of the nursery and has complete access to any of our parents! I was likle you, hoppin mad!!

 

I hate it when people give out my nuber without my consent, to the point where I now screen all calls. Im very prickly when it comes to matters of confidentiality!

 

You are quite right to be annoyed by this and I would certainly not let it go, and speak to the member of staff concerned, who probabaly for a minute just didnt think, then also talk to your boss about it, perhsap a gentle reminder to ALL staff about confidentiality at a staff meeting?

 

Regarding the compaint or possible complaint, you seem to have that well in hand, these things ahppen from time to time to all of us and you know that you have handled this as well as you could have.

 

Do let us know how you get on

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Clare,

 

I do feel sorry for you. It's difficult being faced with a phone call when you least prepared for it, let alone dealing with something that you know is a difficult situation and appears to be now contentious with the Mother and during your own personal time at home (which of course we all know is often based around our settings anyway but we do have the option of when and how we do it)

 

There was obviously something that happened to prompt the woman giving away your phone number and of course she shouldn't have done it as it does breach your confidentiality rules. I think you will need to find out why this person thought it was ok to do it - maybe she felt under a lot of pressure from the Mother who obviously seemed to be on a mission and was unhappy. Under pressure she might have felt that this was the best way of dealing with things and trying to calm a situation down. However, only you will know this by talking to her. Had something like this happened in my group I hope that the member of staff would be on the phone to me immediatley after the incident advising me of the situation so that I could be prepared and advising the Mother that I would phone her personally as soon as I could. However, people do react differently.

 

On the plus side you have the advantage now of thinking about what has happened and how you might deal with it. I think you definitely need to find out what prompted this action, and if the women is reporting this to Ofsted, then you will need all the facts to hand and clearly there may have been a conversation with the other lady prior to this which may or may not have a bearing on it - was there fuel added to the flames at this stage. I think you need to refer this to your manager and you should all three sit down together and work this out.

 

As for reporting this to Ofsted, I feel this is probably a gut knee jerk reaction from the Mother, let's hope so, because although you know you are in the right and are doing what you think is in the best interests of the family/child - I am sure that this will only add to a workload which we all know is never ending anyway and something like this only adds to it. Its something we can all do without especially when our motives are in interests of the child.

 

I am sure that once you have stopped feeling (quite rightly) so angry you will find a way forward so that this sort of thing does not happen again.

 

As others say good luck - eat chocolate - it will make you feel better in the short term

 

Nikki

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clare, I don't blame you for being angry, I have a smiliar problem in that my children go to the same school as most of our pre-school children feed - meaning that at least two or three times a week I am stopped by parents of the nursery children with questions, comments and sometimes grievances, I find this sometimes very awkward to deal with, I am there for my children not with my nursery teacher head on!

The problem is that these parents and carers trust us with their children, rightly so and I think sometimes they forget we are human and have our lives to lead, I believe that queries should be dealt with in work time or appointments made to sort out issues, your home number is private and it is not appropriate to discuss the matter in your own time,

Let us all know how you deal with the situation, for me I keep nodding, smiling and hope that one of my children will distract and rescue me whilst outside the school gates! (my kids are very good at distracting me, my youngest son came out of school the other day running at top speed saying he was sooo fast, nearly knocked me off my feet! Of course then I have that old scenario of the mums looking to see how my own child behaves - do I practice what I preach? I do feel under scrutiny sometimes, more patient nodding and smiling follows). :o:D:D:)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now may be a good time for your staff (especially the senior member in question!!) to have a re-look through you policies, in particular the Confidentiality and the Complaints Procedure one!!! If they don't have already, perhaps they could have a flow-chart or something which they can refer to when faced with a complaint, which shows them what to do.

 

I expect that your senior panicked because the parent was complaining, and it's easier to pass the buck. With you not being there I guess they wanted to show the parent that they were being taken seriously, and that their complaint would be listened to straight away. I would definitely speak to them.

 

Hope it all goes well with the complaint from the parent. Some people like to complain about all manner of things, but the fact of the matter is that if they were not happy, they would move their child. They probably feel threatened by your expertise, and have gone on the defensive - whereas everyone knows your intentions were good ones, and very professional.

 

Wishing you good luck,

 

Shelley

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a note of support, I agree with all others comments. Does your setting use the new form for complaints? there are tick boxes on how the complaint was made, ie: verbally, written etc, there is definately not a box for telephone call to private number :o

 

I really do hope this all settles down for you, as Nichola says, the added "paperwork" is like salt on a wound.

 

Peggy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for your kind words!

 

The current plan of action is that on Monday I am going to go in and once the session is underway, I am going to speak to the member of staff in question to try to establish what may have happened between her and the parent to see what may have prompted her to give out my phone number. This is all going to be written down and I am going to ask her to sign what has been written (to cover both of us!). I am also going to record the complaint (I haven't seen the new complaint forms!) using our exisiting system.

 

I will then write a formal letter to the parent stating that we have received and recorded the complaint and, in accordance with out complaints policy, she will receive a reply within seven working days. I will also explain that my manager is away for two weeks, but she will be notified of the complaint on her return.

 

I think in the meantime this is all I can do, but I am really not looking forward to going in on Monday!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too would ahve been very angry at staff member...giving any phone number out is breach of confidentiality...we often have parents asking for anothers number, we know they have become friends, but always refuse and explain why. Most are happy realising the problem but I have had some become angry at our policy!!

 

We do however have a mobile which a member of staff has for emergency calls and this has recently proved very useful for parents who need to contact us out of hours often by text message.

 

just a note of support.... keep your cool and remain calm. record everything including verbal conversations with parent, staff etc.

 

Aslo so anyone who has not seen it or does not have a copy i will attech a copy of the complaint form ofsted have provided, taken from their web site.

 

Inge

complaint_record_new.doc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just want to add my support Clare, you must have been understandably upset at this inacceptable breech of confidentiality and resultant confrontation in the security of your own home.

 

I always try not to encourage a blame culture and try to say this is the problem, how can we resolve it and make sure it doesn't happen again.

 

You've had some very good advice already, just want to add keep cool and carry on in the same professional manner, keep a diary of everything. Hopefully if you can sit down with the parent over a cup of tea and explain that you hadn't meant to offend her and were acting in the best interests of the child. But if this doesn't resolve the problem and a written complaint is made to Oftsed, then I'm sure Ofsted will see that you have acted professionally and properly. Do use the form provided by Inge should it be necessary.

 

Good luck.

 

Deb

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where would i be without you all - hadn't seen this complaints doc so really useful - printing it off now with a view to bunging it in a file and using it tomorrow

Thanks v much

Nikki

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again for all your support!

 

I'm quite lucky in that I am generally quite a calm person anyway, although the events of the last few days are trying my patience somewhat!

 

Obviously, I don't want to upset the parent further, nor do I want to intimidate the staff member, so I shall be calm and controlled! I'm starting to calm down already, so by tomorrow, I should be ready to tackle the issue without screaming and shouting! Luckily we don't open over the weekend!! :o

 

I really appreciate all the help and support you have all given me. I will let you know what happens tomorrow!

 

Thanks again!

:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry! Meant to reply at the beginning of the week, but unfortunately my pc wasn't working properly, so missed the forum for 3 days. Felt slightly ill, but am much better now!

 

Anyway, I went to work on Monday, feeling quite calm. The bus journey takes an hour and a half and passes three secondary schools, and normally that would get me stressed before I've even got there, but not this particular day!

 

I managed to speak to the member of staff involved and asked her why she had felt it appropriate to divulge my personal contact information to a parent. She told me that the mother had been quite abusive towards her, had physically threatened her unless she was given my number. Initially she demanded my address, but was eventually placated with my number.

 

I had in my head, the confidentiality speech, but I didn't feel it was appropriate to start carrying on about that, when my colleague had been through, what I consider, an ordeal with a parent. I did say to her that I understood the reasons why she had acted in that way, but in future, to simply call the police and have her removed from the premises. Maybe a bit harsh, but I'd much rather they got involved, rather than threats etc being made against my staff or me or even worse, the children.

 

I tried to be a sympathetic as possible to her. She was shaking as she was telling me and started crying soon after we started talking. I asked her if she had contacted the police and she said no. I then asked her if she wanted to, because I'm sorry, there is absolutely no need for threats of any kind. She declined, saying she was sure she didn't want them involved, at that it was obviously because mum was so stressed out with her sons problem.

 

I wrote a letter to mum informing her that threats and initimdation of staff is not acceptable and that, as much as I know she is finding the current situation difficult, any further outbursts will be reported to the police and she risks the termination of her place at the pre-school. My manager is still away so I can only refer to our policies to cover myself, rather than asking her opinion.

 

Mum sent a letter into us, saying that she was terminating the place with immediate effect as she felt that we were not supportive of her and her son. She also feels that I have threatened her with the police in my letter and that this is unacceptable. We haven't seen or heard anything since and that letter arrived on Wednesday.

 

I feel a bit bad because up until recently we seemed to have a good relationship and we seemed to be working well together to try and resolve the problem. But then I feel that if she wishes to continue with her complaints and threats then its good that she won't be coming back. We miss the child, he is a real sweetheart and I really feel for him. I'm also worried that the sudden change in his routine will have an adverse effect and could cause more issues connected to the mutism.

 

But that is the situation as it stands at the moment. My manager is off for another week and then returns, so I'll be able to show and tell her everything that has been happening in her absence. I've followed your advice and recorded everything .

 

Just have to wait and see now what happens when she comes back... :o !

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm only thinking about this, if it happenend in my preschool when I was away, and do not have all the facts.

 

Did mum receive the letter you intended to send?

 

I will then write a formal letter to the parent stating that we have received and recorded the complaint and, in accordance with out complaints policy, she will receive a reply within seven working days. I will also explain that my manager is away for two weeks, but she will be notified of the complaint on her return

 

Was the parents initial complaint addressed? It appears that although the method of complaint was totally inappropriate the parent has not been offered or able to discuss and agree a way forward regarding the care needs of her son. As this has not in her mind been rectified, on top of an unsubstantiated letter of complaint about her behaviour, she has withdrawn her child.

 

Is there a policy in dealing with staff complaints, as there is with parent complaints?

 

I would have expected an enquiry about an alleged threat to a member of staff before contacting the parent stating that it was not acceptable. Yes, the staff member appeared upset but she appears to be quite inexperienced at dealing with parent issues, and maybe felt the situation was more threatening than it was, maybe not experienced to handle confrontation ( which is not always threatening but can appear to be to the inexperienced person). Or if there was a real threat, then procedures must be in place to report these immediately to the police, otherwise the severity of the threat is left unclear and open to denial on the parents part.

 

I still also think the issue of confidentiality has been side stepped.

 

I am really sorry you have had to go through this situation, everyone should try to learn from it, maybe it should even be discussed at a future staff meeting so that all procedures are clear to everyone.

 

Hopefully on your bosses return she can rectify the situation with the parent, dealing with her concerns for her child and her behaviour in respect of communicating with the staff, and the child can return.

 

Let us know what happens won't you.

 

Peggy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Peggy.

 

Just a few answers to your questions!

 

1. Did mum receive the letter you intended to send?

 

I believe mum did receive this letter, as she sent another one in on the Wednesday saying that she was withdrawing her son from the pre-school because she felt as though she had been threatened and that we were not supportive of her and her son.

 

2. Was the parent's initial complaint addressed?

 

When I spoke to Mum over the weekend, I invited her down to the pre-school to discuss the matter in full. However, she was so angry that it might not have registered. We haven't seen mum or the child since last week, although we have spoken a few times (phone and letter). I was willing to sit down with her and try to iron out the problems and offer as much support as I possibly could but she never showed up. So, strictly speaking, the initial complaint wasn't addressed, although that was not for the want of trying to arrange a suitable time in which to do so.

 

3. Is there a policy in dealing with staff complaints as there is with parent complaints?

 

Not at the moment, but this situation has highlighted the need to have something in place for staff to make complaints.

 

4. "I would have expected an enquiry about an alleged threat to a member of staff before contacting the parent..."

 

I believe that the staff member is being truthful when she says that mum physically threatened her. She is an experienced member of staff with twelve years experience in a variety of roles. She has always shown that she is able to deal effectively and appropriately with parents whenever there have been issues in the past. Added to her account of what happened, the threats were witnessed by another member of staff and reported to me on the same Monday.

 

In hindsight I would agree that I was a bit hasty in writing to the parent, but as I have been left on my own and only really have the support of the forum, I thought it was the right thing to do at the time. A kind of nip it in the bud scenario. I did check with all the policies and procedures we have and they clearly state that threats on any level will not be tolerated and may result in termination of the child's place.

 

Fortunately, the staff member and her witness had the sense to write everything down when it happened, so I was faced with the 'evidence' when I arrived at the pre-school on Monday morning. I also wrote down the details of our conversations. In my letter to the parent she was again invited to the pre-school to discuss the matter but she declined, as we didn't hear any more about it.

 

I believe the threat was real, especially judging by the way mum was talking to me over the weekend! However, although our policy states that where necessary, the police will be notified, I didn't think it appropriate, as the mother has been having difficulties what with travelling to Ireland to care for her sick mother and also with her sons selective mutism. I was trying to be sympathetic and resolve the matter 'in house' and maybe, again with hinsight, that was not the right thing to do.

 

5. "I still also think the issue of confidentiality has been side stepped."

 

I agree. I did have the speech in mind when I went in, but again didn't feel it appropriate to add it to the conversation. However, a staff meeting has been planned for Monday and this will be high on the agenda. Now everybody has calmed down, I feel they will be more responsive to what I am trying to say. I also intend to write a full report of the matter for presentation to my boss.

 

From your questions and advice, Peggy, I am going to again write to the parent and invite her to the pre-school to discuss the matter. This is again giving her an opportunity to have all her complaints discussed. I will reiterate to her that my boss will be returning to work the week after next and she will be available to discuss the matter with, if she still feels that she is getting nowhere with me.

 

I appreciate the parent is feeling angry and upset at the moment and I feel bad that that is the case. But there is also only so much I can do. I felt that if I left the matter without contacting the parent, it would be giving her a licence to continue her threats and complaints. I also felt that it would be better to lose a parent/child (who would be leaving pretty soon for school anyway) rather than an experienced member of staff, particularly when experienced and reliable staff are becoming harder to come by.

 

Obviously I want to help this parent in any way I can. I'm all confused now as to whether I have done the right thing or whether I have made a right mess of it and my boss is going to come down hard on me. At the same time though, I feel I have been left alone too early in my training to handle all of this, not that my boss knew this was going to happen. I suppose I'm just feeling stressed out by it all and am beginning to doubt myself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clare, you have done the best you can in this situation, my intention was not to make you doubt yourself, or feel stressed. I was just trying to forewarn you ( for want of a better term) of what your boss may ask on her return.

The staff meeting should hopefully serve as a way for all the satff to reflect on what has happened, decide any action points for development ie: Staff complaints procedure, confidentiality in practice-what this actually means, how to cope with aggresive confrontation from parents etc, and to close this matter until your bosses return.

 

I agree that you have been put in a difficult situation with your boss being away so early in your employment with this job. This is unfair pressure / responsibility for you. You have managed the situation by recording everything, you have certainly bonded with other staff through this experience and tried your best to offer communication opportunities for the parent.

 

Have a good restful break if you are on half term and put this all behind you.

 

Peggy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh dear I do feel sorry for you. Keep your head up, it's very hard when faced with situations that we have not dealt with before and no matter how many policies we have under pressure we may not always use them in the way they have been designed. Clearly your member of staff felt this when she gave away your telephone number. Trouble is, as we are well aware, when something in the chain or recommended course of action goes wrong everything else seems to follow and one problem leads to another.

 

I think the Mother appears to be under stress and is not dealing with it very well and not acting rationally. I think a softly softly approach is needed highlighting all the things you have said here about her son in a letter, about how lovely he is etc and how you really would like to have him back at the group etc. Try and put yourself in her position. She is perhaps feeling slightly persecuted, she has a sick mother, she has been advised that there are some issues with her son, she has received a letter regarding her behaviour with threats of the police and these are only the ones you know about. there may be a whole load of other stuff going on too. What she won't see are all the positive things about how you are trying to help and resolve all these issues and she may just need a few kind words to make her feel better about herself and her life at the moment.

 

Perhaps Peggy might like to comment on this as to whether this might be a good way forward as I think the situation needs defusing.

 

How many weeks do you work? Are you a FDC, if you are not then I think the question must be asked as to why your manager is taking time off during the busiest time of the year?

 

Anyway keep your chin up, don't worry too much about what has happened - you cannot change it - but you can move forward, reflecting on it and decide the best course of action now.

 

Nikki

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I totally agree about the mothers stress, and Clare has said she will be writing another letter to ask mum in to talk through her complaint. It should be a "warm" polite letter, with the message that the nursery has the childs best interests at heart. As normal in these cases the childs needs can get lost. The letter would have to be worded carefully as it could be seen by the parent as a "back tracking" on principles with regard to the previous behaviour of the parent.

 

We don't know all the underlying issues, in my experience I have had this sort of behaviour from parents who's fees are in arrears, term before the child starts school, and this is their way of getting out of paying. I'm not saying this is the case here, but just as an example of one type of other underlying issue that there may be.

 

Yes, make the letter warm and polite, then leave it for parent or boss to make the next move.

 

Peggy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Nikki and Peggy.

 

Peggy, I have not taken it that you were trying to make me feel stressed out, so I apologise if it appears that that is what I meant! I just feel like that anyway, but certainly not because of anything that has been said here!

 

Nikki, I agree that the mother's stress is soemthing that needs to be considered and that is what I have tried to do, albeit in maybe the wrong way! We are closed over the half term (thankfully!) so I shall be resting up and trying to enjoy myself. I agree about this being the busiest time of the year, but when family issues arise, what can you do?! I just feel sorry for my boss that she's got all this to come back to, but if she insists on leaving me to get on with it, without a contact number etc, what can she expect?!

 

I will let you know outcome when my boss returns..... :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Clare

Take time out, enjoy yourself and try and relax - you have done everything you can. You have been honest and open here so you should take credit for that and not feel sorry for anything you have done. You have obviously felt pulled from all directions. Life in a nursery is never easy, always different, sometimes interesting and sometimes challenging - just like life so don't beat yourself up about it, you clearly are very conscientious but sometimes we just cannot solve everyone elses problems -no matter how hard we try.

LOL Nikki

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Clare

I have just realised what you have said that you are off at half term - so your boss has has gone off on holiday during term time - she clearly felt that you could deal with everything in the way that she would want otherwwise she would not have left you in charge. I would still like to ask what type of group you are, whether or not you are term time only and does you boss own the group or is she a chair of the committee. I would love to know.

Nikki

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well then you shouldn't feel guilty - if she feels that she can take the time off during term time then clearly she is happy to leave you to get on with what you think is right.

You should certainly not feel sorry for her. Hope you had a good half term enjoy your last day off tomorrow

Nikki

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)