Tuesday morning was TOUGH. The children are getting very edgy about the impending break and worrying about who their new teacher is going to be. Children with attachment issues are worrying whether their 1:1 support will still be there for them and are pushing them away, just in case. Learning Support Assistants are worrying about their new roles after the holidays.
The school needed lots of holding together from SLT. This took the form of various reassuring conversations and things started to calm down…
The child who had kicked off on Monday was brought to my office by her Foster mum first thing. She wanted her to apologise to me. I didn’t want an apology as I could see it was just too difficult and actually I don’t believe that children should be ‘made’ to apologise if they really don’t feel it. It was very interesting. She couldn’t speak to me, couldn’t talk to me. She sat with her back to me the whole time. I suggested that she just go down to class as it was obviously just too much for her to be made to talk to me and I really didn’t mind if she didn’t. I knew that there were serious issues around her contact with her mum. She was very unreliable.
She went down to class and did really well for half of the morning, especially considering her class teacher wasn’t there. She was working in the classroom with a small group and a familiar Learning Support Assistant.
Then there was an incident and she lost it completely. She reacted to a child who had pushed into her, I’m not sure if it was accidental or not but the reaction was extreme again. I was called for and I came to get him. She couldn’t see why she had to come with me but to my surprise she came without a fuss. On the way I asked my Pupil and Family Support Worker to come with me as for safeguarding reasons I didn’t want to be on my own with her in my office. I could tell she was bubbling. Once we got there (she had held herself together all the way up the corridor) all hell let lose and she threw chairs, kicked doors and cupboards, pushed the table over and punched the windows repeatedly (they are reinforced glass so were ‘safe’). Then came the tears: hot, angry, painful tears. Sobbing from the very depths of her small body. With the tears came more punching and repeated ‘I HATE YOU’s to my PFSL and myself.
We made a judgement call. We decided to let her just get it all out of her system. It was clear to us that it wasn’t us that she was talking about at all. She was shouting ‘I WANT TO GO BACK TO CLASS’ over and over and over again. We sat, kept her contained in the room, and explained that when she was calm and we were sure she would be safe, she could go back to class. In amongst her shouting it came out, as if it escaped in spite of all her efforts to keep it in, ‘AND I DON’T KNOW IF MY MUM IS GOING TO BE THERE TO SEE ME TONIGHT!’ There, she had said it. ‘YOU HATE ME’ she was saying. She was talking to herself, letting it out, saying what was so hard to say. She both hated and loved her mum.
She was furious at her for letting her down.
She thought she hated her. She curled up in a ball behind my cupboard and sobbed and sobbed.
After a while, she calmed right down and started to pick up the furniture she had thrown and tipped over. She put the puppets and toys away and the books back on the shelf. We helped her. I then said that I thought he was ready to go back to class so my PFSW took her down.
This was one of those times when I would have been justified in excluding her. I didn’t call her Foster Carer. I didn’t send her home. She was really well behaved for the rest of the afternoon, even though she knew she had ‘payback’ at the end of the day. Somehow we had managed to contain her wildness and pain and anger. Her sobbing had been so poignant I had found it hard not to cry myself. It is not often I have felt such deep pain in a child. We had stood firm and kept her safe. The Foster carer told me later that she had always been sent home before.
I had the meeting with the powers that be about her placement later that afternoon and I have put the ball in their court. I have said I will agree to the placement, but they have to provide the resources that will make it possible and ensure that she is not set up to fail. These resources will also enable me to keep the other children safe. Now, it’s up to them…