Thursday’s Child…

Today started early as I had my mid-term performance management review with one of my governors. This was followed by seven interviews which resulted in two new appointments. This was followed by lunch in the support group classroom…

Two of the boys were playing beautifully together, for once, like the small children that they are. They had built a ‘den’ out of chairs and one of the bookcases and were building with lego which they were using for a role play game. It is so unusual to see these boys like this. Usually they are squabbling or wanting to play inappropriate fighting and shooting games on the computer and it was delightful to watch. The den was like a protective shell, encasing them and keeping them safe from the outside world and they were completely engrossed in their game.

The dynamics in the room can be very fluid and unpredictable and the other boys were jostling for position. Two of them were on one computer and one was on the other. There was a fourth boy who was trying to sit at the computer but the others were making it very difficult for him. I suggested that we play naughts and crosses as this has become a favourite with him (as he beats me a lot!) and so we started playing. He was really enjoying it and we were having a good chat and banter when one of the boys at the computer said something derogatory about him.

These boys are so vulnerable and undefended that any nasty quip goes straight in and they are unable to fend it off. They have no resilience. If was like someone had punched him in the face. The easel we were playing on went over, he shouted obscenities back, he threw things around the room. It was interesting to me that the adult attention that I was providing was no defense either, he wouldn’t let me help him at all. Eventually, after much cajoling, he calmed down and the other boys were spoken to.

On the way back to my office at the end of the lunch break I had got halfway up the corridor when I was called into KS1. One of the girls had barricaded herself into a spare classroom and had lashed out at her teacher. On the way there I sent a message to the office to ask them to phone her mother and ask her to come in.

I arrived at the classroom to find that the Nurture Group learning support assistant was there too. She is an amazing lady who is brilliant with our most troubled children. The girl had pushed the book trolleys and cupboards (which are on wheels) against the door. There are two doors to the classroom so I went round to the other door and the Nurture group LSA managed to get into the room. Once inside, we each stood at one of the doors. The girl had thrown things all over the room and was marching triumphantly around it with a look of utter defiance on her face. She reminded me of ‘My Naughty Little Sister’ and in her school uniform resembled one of the children on the front cover of a 1950’s children’s book.

This particular child raises her head every now and then. Her brother is at the local EBD provision and she has quite a difficult time at home as there have been instances of domestic violence. She is a bright child who, in spite of all this, has made really good progress this year.

Following her marching about she started to jump on the tables and flashed us a mischievous grin. We didn’t pursue her as she was clearly wanting to engage in a chase. The LSA and I tried to talk her down but she wasn’t having any of it. She then climbed on top of a cupboard and shouted at the top of her voice ‘I’M THE QUEEN OF THE SCHOOL. I’M IN CHARGE!’

What happened next will cause a certain amount of debate I expect but here goes…

I jumped onto a table and shouted back at her ‘I’M A NAUGHTY LITTLE GIRL, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO STOP ME?’ I then picked up a piece of lego and threw it across the room (bearing in mind there was only the girl, the LSA and myself in there). She looked at me, paused for a moment and then said that she would tell me off. I shouted out that I didn’t care. I asked her if she thought she ought to call my mummy. She said she thought she should. I then asked her if she thought I should tidy up all the things I had thrown across the floor and she thought I should. I then told her that that is exactly what I had done, I had called her mum and I thought she should tidy up all the things she had thrown. The LSA and I had to try really hard not to laugh at her reaction to me being a ‘naughty little girl’ as we had both seen the cogs in her mind whirring with recognition.

She can be a very omnipotent little girl thinking that she is completely in control. She is also bright enough to understand what I was doing. I got down off the table. She started to tidy up and the LSA and I helped her. If you enter into a conflict with this girl, by getting very ‘cross’ with her, she simply escalates and you can’t get her back.

While we were waiting for her mum to arrive the girl fetched some books for us to read together. She is a very good reader and we read Traction Man and Dem Bones. I didn’t discuss the incident that had happened earlier. Eventually mum came and we then discussed what she had done, what I had done, and what the consequences should be. Mum was brilliant and very supportive. She was very cross with her daughter as she had had to leave work early to come into school. We decided together that she should apologise to her teacher and her mum was going to stay with her for the rest of the afternoon to work with her on the learning that she had missed. The class teacher was brilliant with her and effectively repaired the situation.

This child is wobbly about the transition to her new class. And this is an improvement on previous years where she has been like this for the whole summer term. Reparation and repair are so important to these children. I know that in some schools there would be outrage that she had hit her teacher and should have been excluded but in discussion with the teacher the teacher also felt that this would not have been appropriate.

By the time I got back to my office it was about 2.30. This gave me just about enough time to call the successful candidates. One of them whooped with delight when I told her she had got the job as she was so excited about joining our team. That was a good feeling!

Then it was parents evening. As it is a really late night it has become a tradition to have pizza at 6 so the staff have a bit of a break. There is a lovely atmosphere in the staffroom and it seemed tonight that there was a really good turnout of parents. At 6pm, I met with my Chair of Governors for a catch up. At 8.45 my Parent and Family Support Leader finally locked up the school, which was now eerily quiet, and went home.

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