School Based Workplace Mediation

Conflict in the school workplace is inevitable, but it can be a healthy and creative process if the differences are addressed quickly and effectively.

Opinions and practice around teaching, learning, and leadership often manifest as immovable positions supported by deeply held values and beliefs. But when differences in position (and personality) are revealed, teachers and senior leaders might find themselves in situations where healthy, professional debate transforms into toxic disagreement.

Sometimes a difference or misunderstanding can escalate over time into something far, far worse, much worse than the incident or situation that caused it. The result is often a drop in productivity, people take time off or take sides, they get ill, and the school environment becomes an unpleasant place to be, which is a situation that students quickly sense.

The effects of conflict in schools

Conflict in school can impact the school significantly on its core purpose: preparing children and young people for their futures.

In the worst cases, people avoid each other and focus on a perceived grievance, rather than on their roles in class or leadership. Impacts can be significant. A person who is on the receiving end of incivility can have their cognitive function reduced by up to 60%. This impact on perceptions affects decision making and rational thought. Leaders spend an average of nine days dealing with a workplace conflict, and in severe cases a grievance can cost over £20,000, even before legal fees.

People don't choose this kind of conflict; they find themselves in the midst of one and often need help and support to move forward.

The solution is mediation

School based workplace mediation is a confidential, non-judgmental and structured process. It is voluntary, focused on a solution, and designed to offer sustainable resolutions. Over the course of a day a trained and experienced mediator meets with each party separately to understand each side's story and to help them prepare to explain their position in a safe, supported manner. The mediator then facilitates a meeting with both parties where each person safely expresses their point of view and needs. Both parties are then guided to find a practical way forward together and to create a solution that will last for the long term.

The impact of workplace mediation in a school

Professionals who successfully navigate the mediation process gain new ideas, innovations, and solutions to their particular challenge which, in turn, give them a greater understanding of other people. They gain a perspective which helps prevent further conflict and transforms disagreement into shared learning. Stronger professional relationships can emerge, and the entire workplace breathes a collective sigh of relief.

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