Parental and student conflict

The incident

An incident took place between the parents of two students who attended the same school. The Police subsequently became involved and the two students ended-up in conflict with one another.

As time went on, this became more and more difficult to manage, both for the students and the parents, as well as school staff.

Parents had to be directed to different drop-off points in the mornings and after school and any incident with either student led to the parents feeling upset and blaming the other party. One of the parents was so upset by the difficulties that they were considering taking further legal action, such as applying for an injunction.

The dispute had a profound affect on the community, with comments being made on social media. It soon became apparent that the situation was becoming unmanageable for all parties.

The Restorative approach

Voice suggested that a Restorative conference with both parents would be an ideal way to look to solve these issues. After consideration, both parties agreed to try this approach.

We arranged preparation meetings with both sides in which it was decided that the students should not be involved at this stage due to their additional needs. Both parties displayed a desire to reach the same outcome, so a Restorative meeting was arranged with ground rules agreed.

On the day of the conference, we arranged for the party who were a couple to arrive after the lone party, as was agreed during the preparation. Both parties chose not to bring supporters. The meeting took place in a quiet room which would not be interrupted and followed usual processes, such as not having a table, having water available and having clear exits. Introductions were made, ground rules were revisited and all parties were made to feel comfortable prior to proceeding.

Each person had an uninterrupted opportunity to talk about what happened and how they felt.  There were a couple of times when facilitators had to intervene, but this was only to keep the focus and not because of any risk or issue. Both parties agreed that all had been affected, especially their children.

The conference then progressed without much need for Voice to interject and cumulated in all parties apologising to each other, prior to a few hug and a few tears!

The outcome

It was at this point that the tea and coffee came out and the parents felt ready to bring their children in to help repair their relationship.

One student felt able to join the conference immediately, however the other found this extremely difficult due to his additional needs which includes a deficit in his social and emotional abilities. He became quite distressed at the prospect of facing the other adult but with the support from a peer and his parents, did eventually manage to meet.  This resulted in lots of hugs and the students wanting to go off and play football together that evening!

The outcome for all parties was positive in that adult friendships were restored as well as the students’.

They were able to identify where their relationship had gone wrong and put in strategies to prevent situations like this happening or escalating to the same extent again in the future.

Both parties acknowledged that they had a part to play in the disagreement / disruption and wanted to move on. Both students have been more settled in School and behaviour incidents have fallen considerably.