Schools are dealing with very real challenges every day, such as a need to protect children from intruders, and this has led to enhanced school security – for example, police checks, alarm systems, locked doors with buzzers. Schools carry a heavy load of administrative and legal requirements. They are accountable to school boards and ultimately to the Ministry of Education. Such concerns and others form the backdrop to our daily interactions with our students, their parents and caregivers and our colleagues.
Inadvertently, these very real preoccupations and responsibilities can result in a more structured, bureaucratic and hierarchical system within schools, leading to an impression of inaccessibility by those who are outside of the system.
It is important to be cognizant of the fact that increased bureaucracy and structured formality can discourage parents and caregivers from approaching the school. For disenfranchised parents and caregivers, or those whose children are marginalized, contact with the school may pose emotional risk and require great courage. In these circumstances, school structures and environments may be viewed as extensions or even reinforcers of the systemic barriers they face.