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feel intimidated by a pupil, and forced to be left alone with him

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by LittleStreams, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. LittleStreams

    LittleStreams New commenter

    I work as a Cover Supervisor.
    I normally like me school, and I have felt supported thus far, but then I haven't had any incidences that have really required a lot of support. I have been able to deal with things mostly on my own.
    I covered a particuarly challenging group, and had a particuarly rough time of it. I had 2 students removed for their behaviour. When I called for back up from a Senior Member of Staff, she said that the other members of the class who were misbehaving had to remain in at lunch. Well, two stayed. But the others walked out, with one boy in particular swearing at me and being quite agressive in his mannerisms.
    One of the jobs I do is internal exlusion, and I requested that I not be alone with him during that time as I feel unsafe around him.
    Today I was given external inclusion duty, and was left alone with teh boy. He was rude, swearing at me and was threatening, just as I expected.
    To make things worse, he wasn't even in there for the incident that happened on Friday, but for something else. I feel unsupported.
  2. Your feeling of being supported was therefore an illusion.From what you say, when you needed support your request for it was ignored.
    If your request not to be left alone with the boy was ignored, and you were instructed to supervise him on your own, you had a decision to make: you could either continue to supervise him, taking a risk with your personal safety, risking injury or a malicious complaint, or you could refuse/ walk out.
    There is clearly some risk of a violent attack whether you are alone with him or with him in a class.Whether there is a serious risk of violence is a matter of judgement: as you have now supervised him on your own and presumably nothing has happened, your management may well claim that your fears are unfounded.
    You say he was rude, swearing and threatening. If we put the rudeness to one side for the moment, did he make any explicit threats that he would hurt you? Or were the threats more vague? You could take advice from you union and consider reporting any serous threats to the police-if you think it is insufficient to report them to school management, which I assume you have done already.
    I hope that the punishment for his behaviour with you in internal exclusion is not going to be more internal exclusion with you.

  3. LittleStreams

    LittleStreams New commenter

    I don't belong to a Union yet. I know, I know, I need to join. And I will be, pronto.
    There are a lot of staff who feel threatened by his behaviour apparently. After what happened yesterday, they have decided to give him 3 days Internal Exclusion. This means he will be in there with me, but they have promised me that I will not be alone with him in there at any point (the staff member who promised that was a member of SMT and said that he didn't want ANY staff member left alone with the boy, as there ar genuine issues with him).
    Yesterday the boy put his hand through a window. He has some serious anger issues. A little bit of my actually feels sorry for him - what has happened in his life to make his such an angry person.
    Thinking about it after some time, I don't think the boy is being threatening towards me as a personal thing. I feel it's a lot more to do with me being an authority figure (seeings as he is like it to other staff) and so I become the sounding box for his anger. I still feel concerned being around him when he is angry, but I don't feel it is personal.
  4. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Good Lord, what an awful situation. And from my misty, distant vantage point, it certainly sounds like you have been appallingly poorly supported. Being forced to remain in a room alone with a pupil who the school has worries about, who puts his hand through windows, and who clearly needs to be dealt with in a firm manner..it beggars belief that you should have been instructed to remain with him. It is practically a definition of the accident that waits to happen, and God forgive them if anything had.
    1. Join a Union.
    2. Tell your line manager that you don't feel safe- this is a far more serious issue than mere disobedience; this regards your safety. Your employer has a duty of care, and if they fail in this regard, and Heaven forbid if you were assaulted, they would be exposed to legal action. Which is a poor substitute for a reason to look after you, but it'll do.
    3. It might not be personal, but he could still be a threat. This boy needs to be dealt with by another member of staff, not you, as your experiences with him could act as a trigger. Of course it could be optimistically said that there is an opportunity to progress with him, by talking to him, but honestly it's not worth the risk, and it doesn't sound like a situation where the relationship is the priority.
    4. If you feel that you have to do as they ask then absolutely insist that someone remains in the room. If this doesn't happen, log it, and make a complaint to SLT and, if you feel brave enough, the board of governors.
    But really this is unacceptable- you are being forced to work in extremely unsatisfactory circumstances, and I suggest you make a lot of noise with as many people as possible.
    Good luck
  5. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    I agree that it doesn't sound as if you have been well supported. I'm really pleased you're not taking the boy's behaviour personally though. Why not try to use the time he is excluded to his and your benefit. If you are being supported by SLT while he is there try getting him to work out what it is that makes him angry and what helps him to calm down. Is there anyone he relates well to? Does it help if people give him a cooling off period before trying to deal with his behaviour? Building a behaviour strategy for him will help him and other staff. You're right to look at what's going on in this boy's life to make him so angry and frustrated. Ask him to reverse roles and tell you what you think a teacher should do if confronted by his bad language and aggressive behaviour... you might be surprised by his answers. I once worked with a girl who was dreadful in my class... when I asked her why she told me she really hated a particular mannerism I had, to be fair she had loads of behaviour issues going on and a pretty rough home life, but in this situation my mannerism was the last straw to her. I apologized and stressed that I wasn't even aware when I did it.. I asked her to point to me whenever I did what annoyed her... I would apologize and it became a bit of a joke and totally deescalated a problem. It also opened a dialog which meant she felt she could talk more openly about her troubles and in doing so felt better about life simply because I would listen and not judge her. I think the job you do is extremely difficult and you do need to feel that you're being supported by the rest of the staff... good luck.

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