Guidelines for teaching staff to handle disputes between parents on arrangements for the child in school

Published Date: 11 February 2019 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Rahayu Mahzam, Jurong GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) whether there are standard operating procedures or guidelines for teaching staff in dealing with situations involving parents of children who are divorced or are undergoing divorce; (b) whether there are specific guidelines for situations where there are disagreements or disputes between parents in respect of the arrangements for the child in school; and (c) whether there is training for the teaching staff to guide them to handle such situations.

Question

To ask the Minister for Education whether there are guidelines for teaching staff to handle problems arising from the Parents Gateway mobile app being accessible by both parents, such as disputes between parents relating to the arrangements for their child.

Response

1. It is difficult for schools and teachers to get deeply involved in family matters. Hence schools will generally work on the basis that both parents are entitled to receive information in respect of a student; that any decision conveyed by one parent reflects the views held by both parents; and any school information sent home with the student or given to one parent at school, would be communicated to both parents.

2. If schools find out that a student’s parents are undergoing divorce or have already divorced, their key consideration will be the child’s well-being and best interests. Disagreements or disputes between parents can impact their child’s emotional state and, thus, his or her ability to learn in school. Therefore, schools will usually encourage parents to set aside their personal differences and work towards a compromise or consensus. Where schools are made aware of any court orders made in respect of a student, such orders will be taken into account in subsequent engagements with the respective parents.

3. Parents Gateway is a mobile application that was officially launched at the start of this year as part of MOE’s on-going efforts to support our schools in their communication and engagement efforts with parents on their children’s educational journey. Its design is also consistent with the approach I had stated earlier.

4. I am not sure that a set of rigid rules or protocols is the best way forward because every child from a broken family is surrounded by unique circumstances, and oftentimes educators will find themselves caught between parents, grandparents and other relatives. Educators will have to exercise judgement and manage each case sensibly and carefully. By abiding to the approach I mentioned, and with experience and support from their fraternity, educators will become better at handling these issues with time.

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