Independent preparatory school mediation case study

Posted by Rebecca Ireland on

Parties in dispute  

The new Head of Department and a long-serving Teacher within that department.

The problem

Their inter-personal relationship had not got off to a good start, and had gradually declined, resulting in the Teacher raising a grievance.  The conflict between them was leading to a noticeable divide between “new” and “long serving” staff in the staff room and around the school.  The school was hopeful that mediation would help these colleagues explore the causes of their conflict, and improve their working relationship, for the good of everyone.

The Mediation Process

Having listened to each other’s full and frank view of the situation, they acknowledged that, by not communicating directly with one another, this had resulted in serious misunderstandings, which had lead to resentment, avoidance strategies and an unpleasant working environment, with both experiencing stress-related symptoms.  Also, both felt the other did not act professionally and courteously, in their presence and when speaking to other staff.  Once these areas of common ground were established, the parties were able to move towards a mediated agreement, involving improved communication methods, giving feedback to the Deputy Head to show that they were committed to improving their working relationship, and the ability for either party to seek a further mediation session.

Was it a success? 

Yes – Although the parties recognised that implementing the mediated agreement would be hard work, as the relationship had almost reached breaking point, there was a willingness to build the mutual respect both desired from the other.  Also, the formal grievance was withdrawn.

About the Author

Rebecca is a highly experienced employment lawyer, having specialised in the area over 21 years ago, and is also a qualified mediator.

Rebecca Ireland
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