Dealing with conflict management

19 April 2023

Conflict management in primary schools can be a challenging and complex process. As such, it is important for all school staff to have a clear understanding of how to approach and handle any disputes that may arise.

Firstly, it is essential to establish a clear set of rules and expectations around conflict management. These could include an agreement with staff to always seek to resolve disputes in a professional manner and a policy on how to handle reports of difficult behaviour or incidents. This will ensure that everyone in the school is aware of the expectations and any potential punishments or sanctions that could follow in the event of a breakdown in conflict resolution.

The importance of good communication also cannot be overstated. This means that any potential disputes should be handled quickly and in a calm and professional manner. It is also important that school staff show respect for each other and always remain courteous and patient, even if this is difficult. If a dispute escalates, the school should always ensure all members of staff are given a safe, supported and neutral environment in which to express their feelings and perspectives.

Finally, it is important for school staff to take ownership of any disputes. This means actively looking for ways to resolve them without involving external parties. This could involve using a range of methods such as negotiation, mediation, or even using outside facilitators if necessary.

Conflict management can be a complex process, but by following these steps and adhering to a clear set of expectations, primary schools can ensure that all disputes are resolved in a professional and satisfactory manner.

Here are some tips on how to deal with conflict when it arises:

  1. Address the conflict head-on: When conflict arises, don’t ignore it. Instead, address it head-on and encourage open communication between the parties involved. Create a safe space where they can express their concerns and feelings without fear of judgment or reprisal.

  2. Listen actively: Active listening is an essential skill in conflict management. Ensure that both parties feel heard and understood by actively listening to their concerns and needs. Repeat back what you’ve heard to confirm understanding.

  3. Find common ground: Look for areas of agreement between the parties involved. Identifying common ground can help to build trust and create a foundation for resolving the conflict.

  4. Remain neutral: As a leader, it’s essential to remain neutral and not take sides. Be an impartial mediator and help to facilitate the conversation.

  5. Encourage compromise: Finding a compromise is often the best solution to conflict. Encourage the parties involved to work together to find a solution that works for everyone.

  6. Follow up: Once a solution has been agreed upon, follow up with the parties involved to ensure that the conflict has been resolved and that everyone is satisfied with the outcome.


For more tips and advice around conflict management in the workplace at primary schools, the following links could provide useful guidance:

  1. ACAS – Conflict resolution

  2. Mindtools – Conflict resolution

  3. CIPD – Managing conflict

  4. NHS Employers – Managing conflict in the workplace

Remember that conflict is a natural part of any workplace, but how you manage it can make a significant difference in the outcome. By addressing conflicts head-on, actively listening, finding common ground, remaining neutral, encouraging compromise, and following up, you can create a workplace culture that is supportive and nurturing for everyone involved.