My school is a small island of calm and safety in the midst of a sea of tensions which explode with predictable regularity. Feuds are common and grudges are held for a very long time. People have a strong sense of having been wronged and spend a lot of energy in seeking retribution for this.
During the summer holiday there was an incident triggered by a parent challenging a group of youths who were apparently taunting a homeless person. The youths turned on the parent, the parent’s partner then apparently threatened one of the teenagers and so it escalated. I therefore have some parents in the middle of a very nasty feud. And again, in the middle, are the children.
When we talk to the children we are able to resolve these situations and the children are able to forgive and forget and move forward. The adults find this more difficult. The parents start to talk about removing their children from the school where they are settled and thriving.
Today the feud escalated. Some parents promptly went round to the other parents’ house to ‘sort it out’. It ended badly and the police were called.
Tomorrow morning the children will be in school (I hope) and we will have to reassure them and manage the fall out.
The rest of the day was lovely. I actually managed to get through a significant amount of paperwork during the school day, which is very unusual for me. I got a considerable way through our new Raising Attainment Plan (RAP), updated our Key Worker roles, dealt with my emails and worked with my Deputy Head and Assistant Head on the data.
The child from yesterday, who I had spent a considerable time with after school, was a model pupil today and proudly came to show me her learning. Cheeky Grin, on the other hand, had another wobble.
Last year his wobbles were big. VERY big. The incidents yesterday and today were considerably smaller though today he managed to kick a member of staff in the face (though he wasn’t aiming for her face) as she was crouching over him. The member of staff concerned was brilliant and understood the situation and wasn’t upset or hurt.
I got Cheeky grin into my office and although he started demanding his teddies again (which are still asleep on the top of the cupboard) he very quickly calmed down. I asked him what had triggered his tantrum and he told me that another child had turned off the computer when he was on it. I asked him if he would be ready to go back to his learning if we both went and spoke to the child who had ‘annoyed him’ and he said he would.
We went to find him. He took responsibility for what he had done and apologised to her. He was happy and we went back to class. He also apologised (voluntarily) to the adult that he had hurt.
We have a policy in school that when a child is brought back to their learning after an incident, they are welcomed back by the class teacher. 99% of the time staff are brilliant at this but sometimes staff find this hard. If the child has been rude, or refused to talk to them, class teachers can feel a sense of injustice when the child is brought back and they start to ‘tell them off’ with a ‘well I tried to talk to you but you just laughed at me’ or some such like. I find this hard. I understand why the member of staff might feel aggrieved but they need to remember that they are dealing with young children and not adults, and that the children’s behaviour is not calculated in the way that an older child’s or adult’s might be. Cheeky Grin had really upset his teacher and that was apparent when I took him back.
I talked to the teacher later in the day to offer support. I think he is finding the class challenging but he is actually managing them really well, he has forgotten how long it takes to get to know and settle a new class. I was also able to tell him what consequence Cheeky Grin had had for his behaviour. He hadn’t earned his teddies back, and in fact when we had asked him if he thought he had earned them back, he had said that no, he hadn’t and was quite happy to leave them again. This kind of self awareness is what we are trying to develop in the children.