Schools are being forced to trawl social media to protect their reputations due to parents posting complaints online, according to headteachers.
Dealing with issues raised by social media has increased teachers’ workload “exponentially”, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) suggested.
In some cases, teachers may be feeling bullied by parents taking to the internet to air grievances, union leaders acknowledged.
Some schools are beginning to ask mums and dads to agree how they will use social media as part of relationship agreements when their child starts at the school, they said.
Speaking as the union met for its annual conference in Birmingham, ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton said that in the past, parents would call, email or write to schools if they were unhappy, now they will post it online.
He said that in his time as a headteacher, his school would “spend a lot of time monitoring our reputation” and contacting parents if complaints were raised online.
“For example, if someone on our Facebook page put, ‘A maths teacher was unpleasant to our child today, that school is a disgrace’, kind of thing, we would immediately phone that parent up and say, ‘Would you just come in and talk to us about this?’”
He said that schools need to interact with parents because “too often that ability to post something can actually then unravel into lots of people weighing in”.