The majority of the school is calm. The support group isn’t. Having the capacity to contain the stormy children has enabled the rest of the school to function normally, for learning to happen, for the less extreme behaviours to be managed effectively.
The support group contains those who are really beyond mainstream at any given time. Some of them we can support and are fully reintegrated back into class. Some we find a more suitable provision for. Some remain in a halfway house – with some lessons back in class, but based in the support group. These children venture out into the main school for certain lessons (usually maths) but then return to the safety of their small group.
There are three children in the group now who were there when I started it a year ago. Two of them now have statements. These children are very settled where they are and are making good progress in their learning. This doesn’t mean that their behaviour is in any way easy to manage. It means that when they do lose it, they generally ‘come down’ much quicker than before, and the episodes are less frequent.
One of the most challenging things for the staff to manage is newcommers into the group. Cheeky Grin is now in the support group. He is settling quite well. The others are wary of him and the ‘pecking order’ is being re-established.
The child whose dog keeps him awake is also back in the support group. He had a better day today too. My PFSW brought him and his dad into school this morning so he wasn’t so late, and after school today she gave him a 45 minute extra literacy session, and then took him home. He is absolutely delightful. I had asked him the other day what he would do if he had one wish and could make everything better. I was staggered by his answer. He wants to be the ‘smartest kid in the school’. He could be, he has the ability. We just need to release him from his paralysing lack of self esteem. It is also a measure of the importance of school for these children. He knows that school is a good thing and is now aspiring to achieve, rather than be the best at fighting on the estate. That is a significant change for this child.
This morning was spent in a professionals meeting about a particular child which was followed by lesson observations. I was halfway through a lesson observation write-up with one of my Assistant Heads this afternoon when one of the support group children appeared at my door saying that their teacher needed us to come as one of the children was threatening to throw a chair at him. We followed him hastily back down the corridor. The classroom was wrecked. The child in question was standing by the window, looking very defiant. He had put the chair down by now but was still being very abusive and dangerous. My assistant head and I removed him from the classroom in order to keep him and the others safe.
It was interesting, were were not holding him very tightly and he was not struggling very much, but from the yells and screams up the corridor you would have thought we were murdering him. In the end we managed to get him into my office where let him go as he was contained and safe. He immediately scurried away and hid down the side of my cupboard, where I keep the soft toys and puppets, and he curled up with them.
I just let him be. This child has extreme reactions when he is reprimanded in any way. He feels very bad if he has done something wrong and his emotional resilience is so low that even the most minor of reprimands, ‘please don’t do that’, can result in a firestorm of flying stuff and verbal abuse. More often than not this includes all the displays being ripped off the walls too. This episode had been triggered as he had been running around the classroom with another child and had been asked to stop. The other child did, this one didn’t and proceeded to bombard his teacher with a torrent of verbal abuse and anything he could get his hands on. Once this has happened he is wracked with guilt and can’t pull it back and so the intensity of the firestorm increases.
Curled up with the cuddly toys by the side of my cupboard he ever so slowly calmed down. It takes a while for his cortisol levels to return to ‘normal’. The staff in the support group are excellent. They popped in now and then to reassure him that they were looking forward to welcoming him back into the group when he was ready. It took about an hour before he was…