Social media defamation and complaints

Polly Kerr, Royston
Polly Kerr, family and school specialist in Royston

People complaining about teachers and schools on social media is a tricky one for schools to navigate. It can cause great upset to individual teachers and given the public nature of the criticism, the spin-offs with pupils and other parents and colleagues can compound the problems.

Our services

We can help you with:

  • Putting in place a robust complaints procedure 
  • advising whether the comments are defamatory
  • deciding whether and how to respond

How should schools handle online abuse against staff?

A press release from the Department for Education in 2014 stated that reports show that 1 in 5 teachers face online abuse from pupils or parents. Schools should provide training to teachers as part of providing a safe working environment. Here are some guidelines:

  • do not respond online
  • turn off the social media comments function to prevent further comments
  • report incidents to a line manager or senior member of staff
  • keep a screenshot as evidence
  • if it’s from a parent, ask them to remove the comment and use the complaints procedure; also invite them to come in for a meeting, if appropriate
  • try asking the social media network to take it down, if that fits with their policy
  • some posts are serious enough to be referred to the police
  • provide training for teachers and office staff on handling aggressive people

The Department for Education provides useful guidelines: dealing with bullying advice.

We’re here to help

You’ll find our team of education lawyers friendly and easy to talk to and we understand the ins-and-outs of education law. 

Our education law team is based in:

Cambridgeshire: Cambridge

Essex: BrentwoodChelmsford, and Saffron Walden

Hertfordshire: Bishop's Stortford and Royston 

But we can help you wherever you are in England and Wales

Make an enquiry today

Tees coronavirus update

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You can also find contact details for all our advisers here. 

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