Case study 30

You are the chair of the local primary school and have seen that Mrs Williams, a parent at the school, has posted a derogatory comment on facebook about the headteacher, Mrs Bowen, regarding their son being bullied at school. Whilst this parent hasn’t raised any concerns at the school to date, you are very concerned as not only are the comments hurtful, Mrs Williams is also a fairly new parent governor at the school. As a governing body, you have adopted Governors Wales’ Principles of Conduct. What do you do?

Invite Mrs Williams to a meeting to discuss the comments on facebook. Be sensitive to the nature of their concern and that although they were upset at the time, as a parent, Mrs Williams has the right to raise their concerns at school with relevant staff, following the school’s complaints procedure. The concern can be dealt with and resolved, rather than posting comments on social media. Assure Mrs Williams that once they have raised their concern using the proper procedures, it will be duly investigated. The school has a responsibility for the well-being of pupils so this issue must be dealt with.

The Principles of Conduct includes a statement on the use of social media:
With the rise in popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, governors should remember that they are a representative of the governing body and part of a corporate body. It is therefore sensible for governors to maintain a certain level of separation on social networking sites, as this may create a conflict / difficult situation in the future.

You will also need to explain that by posting these comments in a public forum, Mrs Williams may be putting their governorship in disrepute, which could be subject to a suspension from the governing body for a period of up to 6 months.

You can ask Mrs Williams to delete the comments on facebook.

As chair you need to be mindful that the headteacher may wish to take this further by raising their own complaint about the actions of Mrs Williams as governor at the school.