'They made me physically sick': An educator on the problem with parent class WhatsApp groups.

Ultimately, teachers and parents are on the same team. We want the very best for their children. And I do believe that this is true for the vast majority of parents. 

But sadly, some parents seem to want to find the negative, the problem, the issue.

Make no mistake – these loud, squeaky wheels are almost always the minority. But goodness me, they can be loud. And they can be powerful. 

Because words are powerful. Words can insinuate, suggest and plant seeds of doubt in the minds of even the most well-meaning of people.

Sometimes, all it takes is one parent insinuating that perhaps that new grad teacher doesn’t know what they’re doing, that perhaps that child is worth avoiding, that 'perhaps Mr Adams could be better with his communication', and before long, those words have burrowed their way – consciously or unconsciously – into the minds of other parents too. 

Never mind the fact that those insinuations are likely uninformed, taken out of context, or incredibly subjective. 

They’re now out there in a not-so-private space, and can often gather unnecessary steam.

It’s got me wondering — are class parent WhatsApp groups more trouble than they’re worth?

Watch: Thank you teachers everywhere! Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia.

So I asked my community. In a recent poll, 77 per cent of my Instagram followers (a mix of teachers and parents) said that the benefits of parent WhatsApp groups do not outweigh the drawbacks. 

Here’s how many teachers feel about parent WhatsApp groups, in their own words: 

“They have been a cause of great angst for myself and my colleagues.”

“Those groups make me feel physically ill.”

“They’ve said some horrible things and it’s gotten back to staff and hurt their feelings.”

“I’ve found I’m putting out more little fires as parents use the WhatsApp group to whip up hysteria over minor things that they could have just asked the teacher.”

“My principal had to legally take one over.”

“Parents have told me that the WhatsApp is ‘hopping’ about a decision I’ve made. It’s definitely contributed to work anxiety as a teacher.” 

“They type things that no one should ever think, let alone type.”

The end result? Many graduate teachers end up quitting or being pushed out of their roles, with parents questioning or complaining about their every move, rather than supporting those graduates through their first year of full-time work – a hard gig in any profession, particularly so in teaching. 


Certain children are unfairly targeted and excluded. 

Teachers are left anxious, second-guessing their every decision, and with additional workloads as they spend time putting out unnecessary fires.

In a recent opinion piece, mum and writer Shona Hendley says that parent WhatsApp groups have become a “digital, interactive, mobile version of Regina George’s Burn Book from the film Mean Girls”. 

In many ways, I agree. 

Whilst I’ve certainly found WhatsApp groups for parents to be incredibly convenient in the past - I’ve also seen the incredible damage that these groups can cause.

Teachers have been targeted for things they haven’t said and/or that have been misconstrued by children reporting back to their parents at home. 

Teachers who’ve marched in a pride parade have had photos circulated of them in their class WhatsApp group. Teacher’s personalities have been discussed, dissected and judged.

Hendley suggests that it’s not that certain parents forget that teachers and school staff are human beings with emotions. It’s simply that they just don’t care. 

One parent recently questioned whether a teacher was even qualified because there was a mistake in the maths homework. I’d love to know - has that parent really never made a mistake? Have they never sent an email with a typo, or calculated something incorrectly? If so, can they please share their secret because this is a world first!


Do teachers make mistakes? Of course, they do! 

And what brilliant learning opportunities they create. Mistakes allow us to model what we teach our children – that mistakes are not only okay, but they are an expected part of any process and an opportunity to grow. We don’t want our children to be afraid to make mistakes, and it is so powerful when children see teachers navigating mistakes, and taking steps to learn from them.

But it’s not only teachers, leadership teams, and administrative staff who can be impacted… parents and kids can be too.


Some parents have been excluded from groups or criticised when they stand up for the teacher or school. 

Some have been abused when they’ve suggested a parent should direct their concerns to the teacher or organisation involved. 

Others have been criticised when they’ve pushed back against particularly unreasonable expectations raised within groups.

And sadly, the privacy of many children is grossly invaded, with ‘problem students’ being misunderstood, singled out, and discussed inappropriately in these public forums, often under the guise of ‘concern’ or ‘just wondering’. 

Despite all this, I’ve also had both teachers and parents reach out to me with some of the benefits of these groups.

One parent told me that while there are 101 messages about lost property, the groups also involve plenty of ‘kind, empathetic, supportive, vulnerable sharing and helping one another’. 

Others talk about how the groups help to build a sense of community, particularly when many parents work and don’t otherwise have the chance to chat with other class parents. 

Particularly for first-time parents, WhatsApp groups can be a great place to clarify or confirm information rather than having to bother the school.


Other parents have mixed opinions: 

“It definitely depends on the group of parents involved. It has varied greatly each year.”

Ultimately, there are many benefits that can come from these WhatsApp groups. They can be great for sharing dates, reminders and last-minute messages. 

In an ideal world, they also save teachers from answering multiple emails about the same question.

But, to truly be effective and of benefit, THIS is what their focus should be.

And when those groups show signs of veering off course, certain parents would do well to remember (and model) one of the basic acts of kindness that we teach our kids: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Tamsin Milledge is a former teacher and Assistant Principal. Alongside her software developer husband, she is the co-founder of The Hive: an online platform of educational and digital resources for teachers. She also supports both teachers and parents with quality resources & teaching tips on her website - Follow her at @MrsLearningBee

Feature Image: Supplied.

Calling All Australian Women! We want to hear from you in this skincare survey. Complete it now and go in the running to win one of four $100 gift vouchers!