EDITORIAL: School system complaints handling concerns

THE recent South Australian Ombudsman’s audit into the Education Department’s complaint-handling practices is a concern for all local parents.

The findings of the investigation, detailed in this week’s front page story, reveal some serious flaws in the state’s school system.

It revealed that complaint handling was largely unplanned and inconsistent across schools, that complaints weren’t always recorded, or reported, to the Education Department by schools, and that staff were not provided with adequate training in complaint handling, amongst other things.

Local parent Adam, who spoke to The Bunyip about his own issues reporting his daughter’s bullying, knows all too well these breakdowns.

The school Adam refers to has not been named intentionally, as has his last name been withheld so not to identify the school, because the issue here is far bigger than individual institutions, and it would be wrong to single out the school as though it is different to any other.

Sadly, bullying is a common theme in schools right across the state.

However, what is even sadder is that concerned parents, who genuinely care for their children’s well-being, are not being heard due to a severe breakdown in the system.

Teachers do the best job they can, but what has become apparent, through the audit, is that they are not being given the tools to deal with complaints efficiently – and they cannot be blamed for that.

In response to The Bunyip’s enquiries, an education spokesperson said the department had considered the Ombudsman’s recommendations, and was working to implement them.

Hopefully, for the sake of both parents and educators, these changes happen quickly, and move towards mending the current breakdown in communication.

Grady Hudd

@Grady_Hudd

Growing up in Bordertown in the South East, Grady Hudd moved to Adelaide and completed a Bachelor in Journalism before starting his first industry job at the Kaniva Times and Nhill Free Press in Western Victoria at the end of 2012. He moved to Gawler in May 2014 to start work at the Bunyip. Grady has keen interests in footy and cricket, as well as a passion for music and guitar.

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