You have the right to speak up at your child’s school.
If you’re not happy with the school
Sometimes you might have a concern about how your child or family is being treated. You might be concerned that your child is missing out on activities, or not getting the right help.
When Janine expressed concern that her son’s school had reduced his aide time, the school fixed the problem.
“The aide would be with him every day. But once he got to grade 4, the hours changed. Because there was other children in the school that didn’t get funded, they used some of his funding to help other children. I didn’t mind so much that they were helping others, but they were just taking less away from my son. I went in and spoke my mind, and what I thought of it. So it changed again.” – Janine
- Find out about dealing with common concerns at school.
If you’re worried about your child
You might be worried that your child doesn’t seem to be learning well. It might be really hard going, getting them to go to school. Or your child might be in trouble for mucking up, or getting frustrated or angry in class. Usually when children refuse school or muck up, it’s because they’re upset or frustrated. It might be about bullying or some other problem with another child, or with a teacher. Or they might need more help, or different help in class.
Stacey’s older boy was seen as ‘naughty’, when he actually had a learning disability that hadn’t been diagnosed. He just needed different help to learn, and when he got it, he settled down.
“I’ve always known that he was a bit more sensitive and a bit more emotional than the other kids too. But I would have had no idea. Like, the other kids just labelled my kids as the naughty Koorie kids in the class …. That’s not what’s going on. Our kids are screaming out for help.” – Stacey
Sometimes teachers try to find out what’s wrong – but not always. Even when they do, children might not be able to say. Sometimes when children get in trouble, it might remind their parents and carers of their own experiences at school, like Aunty Faye says. Sometimes they might feel like there’s no point in complaining.
“Teachers can be a bit, ‘Rah rah rah – you mucked up, you was this, you was that, something else.’ There’s a lot of ways that kids clam up, and they won’t say a thing. And then when they go home to their parents, if they’re with Mum and Dad, Nanna, Grandma, they’d be like, ‘Oh yeah, them gabbas are all the same, they don’t treat us blacks the same’. “ – Aunty Faye
It’s always worth speaking up
After many years of raising children and working in schools, Aunty Faye always tries to sort out problems at school, by talking to the teacher and the child.
“You talk with the teacher and find out what is the problem in there. And then you’ve got to listen to your child. Listen to your child – that’s most important. Because him and the teacher might clash.” – Aunty Faye
Uncle Henry has always had a good relationship with his girls’ primary school. So when his oldest girl was being bullied at her new secondary school, he went straight to the principal.
“I went to see the headmaster – young bloke. And he pulled ‘em up. Next day when they came to school, he called ‘em into a room and talked to ‘em. And it hasn’t happened again ever since.” – Uncle Henry
Get help to speak up
Whatever your concern might be, you have the right to bring it up at school, and to have it sorted out. You don’t have to do it alone. You have the right to get help from a support person – someone to yarn with, who can give you information and support, and help you prepare for meeting with the school. Some support people might even be able to come with you to meetings.
- Find out how to go about bringing up a concern.