A PONTYPOOL head teacher has warned parents against using social media to criticise her staff online saying it has had a “devastating” effect on morale.

Debbie Ward, head of Griffithstown Primary School, has written to parents expressing her concerns after she what she termed “defamatory, misleading, abusive or threatening comments about members of staff” were written on social media sites including on Facebook.

In one of two letters sent to parents dated July 11, Miss Ward starts by thanking parents who came to discuss their concerns with her.

But goes on to say: “I am very concerned with the reaction of some parents using Facebook to vent their frustrations.

While I completely understand parents’ frustrations, what is not shared is the perspective from the school.

“Teachers cannot use Facebook to discuss school as it is a disciplinary offence and therefore the staff do not get the opportunity to deal with issues as they arise.

“All schools in Torfaen now have legal advice about how to deal with “Trolls” and “Trolling” as I believe these situations are called.

“The effect that this use of Facebook has had on staff morale has been devastating. While I appreciate parents will want to do what is right for their child, it needs to be done in such a way that staff are able to then deal with the situation in a positive way. Instead what has happened is that staff feel vulnerable, undermined and at a loss as what to do.

“With no direct line of communication being available to them through Facebook, there has not been the opportunity to deal with issues or to understand what may be required.

“This cannot continue as ultimately, as we have seen, it is the children who bear the brunt of it.”

Miss Ward then reminded parents of the school’s complaints procedure and reminded parents “I will always see parents to discuss any issue and at any time that I can.”