There are many reasons why conflict arises in the school setting. Disputes between school staff, governors, parents and pupils. It is common for the conflict to rapidly become entrenched. Disputes can take up a lot of time, cause anxiety, distress and they can really paralyse effective working at many levels.
I have personal experience of many cases, advising parents and schools, where disputes have had extremely detrimental effects on everyone involved. No-one ever wanted or expected to find themselves in situation of high conflict and distress, but when there are children involved there is often rapid escalation of problems.
Complaints, investigations and hearings are often a further source of anxiety and upset and application to the court or tribunal is often a final expression of frustration. Mediation really can transform these situations – even when participants feel that nothing could ever make the bad situation better.
Studies have shown that peer mediation between pupils can be extremely effective. Between adults who are locked into conflict the results can be incredible. The process is confidential and voluntary, the mediator is impartial and the scope of what can be discussed is very wide.
If workplace relationships are in real difficulty, mediation can enable participants to be heard and look for solutions. If there is a parental complaint, and the relationship with school has broken down, mediation can offer the possibly of resolution. Disputes between the governing body and school senior leadership team can cause a great deal of damage to schools, but again mediation can have a significant role to play in going forward.
Mediation can be swiftly implemented and the outcomes are immediate. By engaging with the participants and facilitating communication mediation offers a real alternative for schools. By incorporating mediation into school policies resolution of disputes can be addressed in proactive manner.
Mediation is suitable for all kinds of disputes including:-
The mediation is usually funded by school, but that does not have any impact on the impartiality of the mediator. The Agreement to Mediate sets out the clear ground rules to ensure that mediation is fair for everyone.
'The first time I spoke to John I put the phone down thinking I’d just spoken to a friend, not a solicitor that I had never met. Throughout, John communicated to me on my level and was always clear, easy to understand and prepared to explain his reasoning.'MW