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My experience/ advice of being suspended. Feel free to add or give advice.

Discussion in 'Primary' started by stephen2008, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. Hello all,
    Recently I was suspended due to a ?Child Protection Issue? ? which sucked (I?m watching my language)! The ?case? is still ongoing but I wanted to share my experiences with you all as I have struggled to cope with the situation and hopefully it will help some of you.

    1. Being told of the suspension. This was one of the worst experiences of my life! I received a phone call to visit the education authority. As I was applying for jobs, I got quite excited ? but no, I was informed of the suspension. Be prepared to be told nothing, indeed I was given mis-information regarding support etc. By the language chosen by the Education Authority manager suspending me, he had assumed my guilt at this stage. If you can note down exactly what was said, the more information you have will help you in the long run.
    2. Police interview. This was a strange, but positive experience. It was the first time I have ever been in a police station and was so nervous prior to the experience, but it did allow me to talk openly and receive some details about the ?disclosure?. The PC interviewing me made it pretty clear that it was a non-event, and did indicate (unofficially) that she wondered how it got that far. What I would say is be prepared for the formality of the event. They will ask direct, and sometimes personal questions. Be honest ? it is easy to spot lies in situations such as these (as per my solicitor),
    3. Notification of the police interview. I was told, via my solicitor (union appointed and excellent), that they wouldn?t be taking it any further as we left the police station. However it was 1 week by the time I was told that officially this was the case ? the interview needs to be transcribed, details confirmed with others involved and run past the DC.
    4. Handing over to the Local Authority. This is where I am at now, and this is where the speed of the process has slowed to a halt. The proceedings were officially passed over to the local authority 2 weeks ago, and nothing has happened yet. I was told by my union in advance that this is where things are let down ? so be prepared.

    Some tips I have for you:
    ? Seek support from friends and family as soon as you can. My emotional state was awful, but I am better now. For the first couple of weeks I spiralled into a deep depression. I was fearful of going out, and didn?t want to talk to anyone. I stopped eating and sleeping, despite feeling permanently tired. Family and friends support got me through this. I?m still not great, but I am better.
    ? Don?t second guess the allegation before you know. I still don?t know the full allegation, but it is none of the incidents I managed to contrive in my head prior to the interview. In my view it is a non-event, and completely contrived by the child/parent but the Local Authority obviously see it differently.
    ? You will feel guilty even though you don?t know what you have done ? this is normal, and doesn?t mean that you are.
    ? Make notes of everything that happens. It is not only good for your mental state, but may also help you as your case progresses.
    ? As I was on the supply list, I am effectively suspended without pay (although officially I am suspended on pay). If you are a supply teacher, prepare for this in advance and ensure you have money to survive.
    ? Days will drag, and you will get a bout of nerves when the phone rings/ someone knocks at the door.
    ? Daytime TV is awful. Do something productive to pass the time (there will be a lot of it). Paint a room, do the garden, do a complete house clean ? anything but TV watching!
    ? Ensure you contact your Union at the earliest opportunity. Mines has been fantastic, although I have read that some union?s have not been.
    ? Be prepared to lose contact with all those you worked with. Senior staff at the school were instructed not to talk to me.
    ? Be prepared to be offered the chance to resign.... but don?t! As soon as you do this, you are struck off the register (they won?t tell you that ? just that the investigation will ?go away?)
    ? It is hell ? pure and simple. Don?t expect any better.

    One thing that has hit me more than anything is how I feel about the child that made the allegation ? I don?t hate him! I think that I have empathy for him due to his home situation.

    Like I say, my case is ongoing and I am prepared for it to take quite a bit longer but my ultimate aim is to get this cleared up as soon as possible. If (hopefully when) this is concluded I will contact my local MP and Education secretary as there are so many failings in the system that need to be put right. Through my own experience I can understand why (I am not saying that I would) people commit suicide whilst going through the process. I am certain that there will be many more innocent teachers that will take their lives.

    If you have been through a similar situation, please feel free to post your views.
  2. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Well done for posting with such frankness and honesty, in what must be an unimaginably difficult position.
    I can't even begin to empathise as to how difficult all of this must feel. It could happen to anyone though, so these are all valuable, and highly sobering pieces of advice.
    You seem to be doing a remarkably good job of staying positive, despite the evident lack of support there appears to be for teachers going through this (the 'no-smoke without fire' attitude that very quickly befuddles the minds of even the most rational of people).
    Keep it up and I wish you the very best in getting this resolved.
  3. manic28

    manic28 New commenter

    Absolutely. Must be horrible not knowing. Good luck and stay strong.
  4. Thanks for the kind comments. I believe in being frank and honest which makes the situation so unbelievable. The whole 'smoke without fire' thing is ludicrous, however I do strongly believe that every allegation should be investigated. We are all in the same boat, we care about the kids we teach and although I am in a position that is unbelievable to people who know me, I do think being suspended is the correct thing to do in most situations.
    I received formal conformation that this is no longer a child protection matter a few days ago - which is a step in the right direction. It does now lie in the hands of an internal investigation. The good thing about this is that I now know the substance of the allegation - and it did happen! It all relates to our sex education programme and states that I raised certain subjects with the children. The truth being that the children asked questions, to which I responded in an appropriate way. Sure, if I could go back I may have changed the way in which I responded but I did keep within the policy at all times and used the correct terms. I also gave my class a heck of a lot less information than my stage partner. I did also let my DHT know that the class were asking a lot of questions.
    I really can't understand how, or why this has gotten to the stage of suspension and police interview. The police woman even concurred when she phoned me!
    Some things I will take from this:
    1. Sex Education (if I get through this) will consist of the DVD, worksheet and any questions will be refered back to the parents
    2. The council does not care about me. They will use me to satisfy their own needs, but will screw me over if they see fit
    3. I will not teach anything that I do not have formal training in.
    4. I will not teach anything that can be deemed sensitive unless a TA is in the room with me.
    5. I will not go above and beyond for any child that seems to require a stable influence in their life. I will refer them to the DHT or HT, but I will not give up my own time to do my utmost to be stabbed in the back by (what I believe to be) a jealous parent. OK, that was a bit strong, but I will certainly be much more cautious in the future.
    6. I will be aware that being a male Primary Teacher I will be discriminated against sexualy. People will question my motives.
    I suppose the main positive I can take from this is the fact that the police investigation has stopped and I have a clean record.
    Thanks for reading.
  5. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    You are not the only person in this situation. Someone I know has been through the mill after answering the qs raised by the kids in class in the ways that they believed to be in line with how they are in the sex ed policy at their school.
    At my place, sex ed is first, foremost, and only delivered through the medium of the school nurse who allows parents to view the materials first. Otherwise I don't touch it with a barge pole and direct their questions to be asked to someone at home.

    Luckily for my friend it did not result in suspension or anything like that, but it was bad for a while indeed.
    Hope things are resolved quickly for you.
  6. The one thing I was advised to do with the whole sex ed thing that I'm really grateful for - was to give all the kids a bit of paper before, and they wrote any questions down, put them in the box (I told them just to put the blank paper in, draw a smiley face or whatever if they didn't have any so it didn't become a big "wooo you put something in the box - tell us what you said tell us tell us tell us" deal) and then I had a list of things to go back over later in followup. Meant I could clarify my approach in answering anything and didn't rush into things on the hoof, could check I was 100% in accordance with how SMT wanted things approached and basically, bought everyone some thinking time.
    Fortunately for me my class largely decided that puberty and sex was absoultely and utterly DISGUSTING!!!! (how that will change in a few years - bless 'em) and didn't have much - but the potential for a storm to be stirred up from home struck me as quite a perilous thing to be hanging over you.
    Hopefully it all gets sorted out for you as quickly as possible.
  7. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    Which begs the question whether we should teach sex ed at all..despite what the goverment wants
    Its so easy to make a comment to am innocent question..ie how do i get in my mums tummy or in science how big am i in my mums tum when looking at skeletons and growth.....bless then one poor yr 3 thought we came out the same size as he was!
    and to not answer looks as if you dont know.
  8. <font size="2">
    </font><font size="2">Unfortunately my lot didn't. That being said the questions they all had were valid and in no way lewd. I answered them (the ones that were relevant to what the DVD covered) in a matter-of-fact, medical way. I have been reviewing the DVD we show them (it's on Teachers.tv), and I have come to the conclusion that it is not the best. If anything it raises more questions than it answers.</font><font size="2">Although I strongly believe that I have done nothing wrong, I do believe that I could of handled one of the questions better. But again, I don't think anything was untoward. What I do feel is important to say is that I received no training in the delivery of this, and the extent of teacher reference material was one side of A4 with the parts of the DVD to play and what worksheets to give the kids. If I could go back I would demand come training, and I would demand a TA to be in the room with me! </font><font size="2">I remember going to speak to another teacher after the kids started asking some questions and he said that all he does is play the DVD and give the worksheets - he refuses to answer any questions, sending them home to ask their parents. I tried to be the teacher I was taught to be and dealt with the topic in the same way as any other. I allowed the children to ask questions to clarify their knowledge, gave learning intentions and discussed them. We discussed the worksheets and group marked. They tell you during training that your approach to teaching should be constant across the curriculum. Obviously this shouldn't be the case with this topic.</font><font size="2">I need to make a statement next week and an investigation will take place - this will determine whether or not it has to go to a hearing. I can't see how it possibly could, but then again I still can't understand how the police got involved so I am not going to second guess the outcome!</font> <font size="2">I do thing that the facilitation of Sex Education is one that needs to be debated openly. I believe that we either need to do it fully and with the support of parents, or not at all. </font>
  9. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

  10. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    At our school the parents see the ideo first at a meeting with the HT and the teachers who'll be doing the sex ed teaching. There's no way it would be dumped on a supply teacher.
  11. Hello all!
    I wanted to give you an update on my situation.. but I can't. I can't because nothing has happened. I am still suspended but I can't say anything else has happened with the disciplinary.
    I went through a very bad spell just before Christmas where mentally I was 'screwed' I was on anti-depressants from the doctor, couldn't think straight and ultimately I was considering taking my own life. I didn't... obviously. I am off the anti-depressants an I feel OK, and my mid set has changed somewhat. I have the attitude that I no longer want to work in schools or with children.... finding another job, however, is near impossible as everybody wants a reference from your previous employer and needless to say - they won't give me one at the moment.
    The union was great when it was a legal matter, but noe that it is internal - not so much. They want to give the LA as much space to do their thing without bugging them - which I can understand. You don't want to start irritating them I suppose. I have contacted another lawyer, and he was of the same opinion. He actually said that the law was weighted so far in favour of the council that it was unfair. He said that until they complete their investigation not much can be done. He did say, however, that their may be scope for a Human Rights case against them!
    I will share all the details about this case once it is complete as I feel that what has happened to me is unfair and unjust. I have done nothing vastly wrong other than try to do what I was taught to do!

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