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Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by pangar, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. A student has transferred to our school who has, apparently, made accusations about staff elsewhere which have resulted in disciplinary action being taken against them. The student is very strong willed, impetuous and with a vivid imagination. The instruction at our school is that two staff should be with them at all times, except when they are in the toilet. Needless to say that a student with SEN does not not take kindly to this.
    I would be interested to hear from colleagues working in the sector what insights they have about this sort of situation. I ask because it has been mooted that disciplinary action might well be taken against any member of staff allocated the task of shadowing the student in question if they fail to remain ever vigilant. It goes without saying that there are many and various reasons why this diktat may fail to be honoured in the hurly-burly of a newly minted special school.
    As ever, the unions (obsessed as they are with protecting the pension rights of their core demographic) seem to be very silent about this. This is doubly annoying. Staff at many independent SEN schools and provisions are paid a pittance but still held accountable to the nth degree by the managements and the various inspectorates, not to mention the utter nonsense that involves managers issuing orders who lack the necessary qualifications or legal nous to fully comprehend precisely it is what they are meant to be doing.
  2. 'disciplinary action might well be taken against any member of staff
    allocated the task of shadowing the student in question if they fail to
    remain ever vigilant.'
    This is always the case. Pay your dues, be scrupulous about always having two members of staff present. What is the problem?
  3. Boogum

    Boogum New commenter

    Hi, I feel for you. This is actually quite a familiar situation, we have a few students who need to be constantly supervised and always in the presence of two members of staff. In practice I don't find it quite as onerous as it initially sounds.
    The way it works for us is that although we make sure the pupil knows that s/he is being watched, stressing that it is for their own safety, we don't actually physically escort them around everywhere between two members of staff. The staff do follow or walk beside / close by and are vigilant. The pupil is handed over beteewn staff, but this can be by one of us standing at the door of the room / hall / playground and signaling to someone on duty / next teacher or whatever s/he's there, and the next adult acknowledging that signal.
    I know it sounds a bit paranoid, but it's actually good practice to protect yourself anyway. In a special school the pupils are not always seen as reliable witnesses and their language and memory skills may not be up to accurate recall and recount. If a pupil is known to make accusations, you may be the next accused, it could be you being prosecuted and loosing your career on the word of this pupil. If there's always two members of staff around, you can be witnesses for each other. Everyone is much safer that way.
  4. R13

    R13 New commenter

    I'm sorry - is the implication here that the Unions should be more interested in covering your back if you make a mistake than protecting the pension I have been paying in to for 27 years? If so my normal sympathy for your situation has just been lost
  5. It occurs to me that three measures would reduce the likelihood of worst case scenarios. They are as follows:
    a. a morning staff briefing at which it is made clear who is doing what and where the likely flashpoints and blindspots are likely to occur
    b. a system whereby a member of staff sweeps the entire building on the hour would lessen the likelihood of situations escalating out of control
    c. all staff to carry either walkie talkies or their own mobiles and to have access to the duty managers as and when an emergency is likely to occur
    My point in responding to this sort of situation is not to engage in union bashing but to express my dissatisfaction with being placed repeatedly in situations which are needlessly stressful if not downright dangerous by managers who seem utterly incapable of doing other than fire fighting. The preventative measures which I have suggested would lessen the likelihood of a repeat of the previous unsavoury allegations. I am still concerned though that if events were to make a mockery of any such plans that those of us in the firing line would yet again be left to our own devices.
    It also bears repeating that something needs to be done as a matter of some urgency to scotch the farcical situation whereby some students are indulged repeatedly while they blight the lives of those who were simply trying to help them. I worry about that there are far too many within this profession who are ever ready to wash their hands of others who have been less fortunate than them. Is this yet another expression of the latter day puritanism blighting our schools?

  6. As an independent SEN HT it shocks me that neither of these are already in place. Of course you need a morning briefing...or a debrief at the end of the day. Daily communication is necessary in SEN such is the volatility of many of the situations that can quickly arise. We only have staff meetings twice each half term but briefing every day.
    As to the idea of a member of staff sweeping the building that might work. We have duty staff for every area of the building (duty up, down, out, over and kit) and the LSA's are responsible for ensuring the students move between lessons without trouble.
    As to the firefighting aspect of your post, as an HT in this situation I'm afraid that despite having a wonderful team and good systems in place the nature of SEN kids means that my day is often spent firefighting. This week my to do list has been added to by firefighting issues day after day whilst all the original tasks remain mainly untouched. I'm not complaining it goes with the territory, but honestly I know what we do works and yet still.......Even having to arrange a change of pick time by taxi involves up to 4 different phone calls made and time spent waiting for a reply. Firefighting is terribly time consuming. But recommend to your Lead Team a morning briefing, our is only 15 minutes but crikey it works.
  7. We have a few students at the residential special school I work in who have made allegations against staff in the past so we are used to staffing a lot of them on a 2:1 basis. This does not mean that you have to make it obvious to them but we do simple things like making sure there are other members of staff in the vicinity at all times even if they are with another student so they can witness that nothing untoward ever happens. We only have 1 student who HAS to be on a 2 to 1 basis at all times and is funded for such and that's for challenging behaviour although they have made allegations in the past as well. To be honest, I'd rather be vigilant at all times than find myself having an allegation made against me and only having my word against theirs because there was no other staff nearby.
  8. I think what you might find the poster is saying that at the moment if you contact the union about anything they don't respond as they are busy fighting for the pensions (not that this is wrong) but a colleague of mine contacted over something important 12 weeks ago and is still waiting for them to get back to her, the day to day is important as well.

  9. Well said! Bread and butter matters more than jam!!!
  10. Hmmm. I've worked with the best and I've worked with the rest. In the present economic climate, you have less choice in the matter. That said, I will pass on my suggestions to the primus inter pares where I am at present, and I will make mention of your exemplum if given the opportunity to do so.

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