The Impact of Parental Complaints on Teacher Mental Health and Wellbeing

Proceedings of The 4th World Conference on Research in Teaching and Education

Year: 2022



The Impact of Parental Complaints on Teacher Mental Health and Wellbeing

Kat Lord-Watson, Jane Williams



This study examined the impact of parental complaints on the mental health and wellbeing of teachers within Scottish state schools during Covid-19. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, a significant proportion of teaching staff reported feeling undervalued by society (OECD, 2018) and over half of Scottish teachers reported mental ill health due to workplace stress (White, 2020). As the pandemic continued, poor mental health continued to affect UK teachers (Kim & Asbury, 2020) and a noticeable, negative rhetoric about teachers began circulating in the UK media (O’Donnell, 2020, Power, 2020; Prior, 2020; Vine, 2020; Woolcock, 2020) and via social media platforms (Chakrabarti, 2020; Education Support, 2020), with parental dissatisfaction and anxiety directed at teachers. The research was undertaken using a mixed methods sequential design consisting of an online survey followed by semi-structured interviews. The survey data was analysed using SPSS, providing descriptive and inferential statistical data about the respondent demographics, experiences of complaints, and level of wellbeing as measured through an interpretative phenomenological approach exploring how the parent – pupil – teacher – school relationship is impacted by complaints. Findings include: (i) the need for greater dialogue around the role of complaints and parental engagement in schools post-Covid, (ii) what teachers believe they are able to deliver and parental expectations of that delivery, at times resulted in unreasonable and difficult parental behaviours that impacted the parent- pupil relationship in a minority of cases, and (iii) that most interviewees felt well supported but that the complaints process could be improved.

keywords: education, complaints, parents, mental health, Covid-19.