Big Old School Bullies – They Are Not Always Who You Think They Are – Part 2

Image: cjansuebsri / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It all started one lovely December Friday afternoon in an Aberdeen Primary School, when middlie decided to not cope with the lunchtime hall at his new school.    Maybe this is where it all actually ended, and perhaps you need to know a little more background than you already know to realise where I am coming from.

Lovely son has global learning difficulties.   Fortunately (for us), but unfortunately (for him), he doesn’t look disabled, and he can hold a conversation with you.  The ADHD in him allows him to talk quite fast, but it doesn’t always make sense and is mostly repetitive around his obsessions.  He is uncomfortable in crowds, and dislikes change.

At 6, he was placed in a lovely special school.  There were older children there, and he  loved having them around.  A disadvantage was that he learned the bad language that comes with older children in playgrounds these days, but without the  fully functioning control tower in the brain.  When it is over stimulated, it is often the first sign that he is struggling with anything.  The general idea is that if you hear him start to swear, it’s time to take him away from whatever it is that his brain is not coping with.   Not coping = brain going too fast = no control over mouth = swearing.  It’s an easy pattern to detect.

The powers that be, decided to close their special school, and use the site their school was on to rehouse a mainstream school onto the land, in a new, purpose built, all singing, all dancing school that would be a mainstream with a large special needs contingent in it.   It was a guinea pig experiment.  The school I told you about in Part 1.

Those of us who had concerns were placated.  We were told that special needs children could have their lunches in a quiet area, rather than in the 400 strong dinner hall.  They couldn’t cope with the noise and clamour that usually ensues in a mainstream school.  They were also housed in the same corridors as their mainstream equivalent children.

The reality has been quite overwhelming.   Children who were coping in the special school environment, and who had sensory issues did not cope with the new and noisy school they were forced to be housed in.  Over time, this has led to some special needs children beginning, or increasing undesirable behaviours when their anxieties rose.  You can’t expect a child with autism and a fear of crowds to eat lunch in a hall with noisy mainstream children without any support, yet that is what they were expected to do.

Leaving out the part where my son was not allowed in the main playground in case he got over excited when he was playing, and might offend the mainstream children, he was also not allowed to go on outings in case he ran away from the staff.

The staff should have ensured they had enough adults on the trips to cope with the children they were looking after.   A risk assessment would have been nice.  Anyway, the only way they let him back on a trip was when I phoned up and said that if they only way he could join his class was for me to go, then I would go with them.  Suddenly, he was allowed back the next trip!

It was a build up of things, but the final straw for me was getting a phone call one afternoon, almost at close of school time to come and help them get him out of the toilets.   I was not prepared for what they did to him, and have since withdrawn him from school because of it.

After a busy lunch (that he can’t cope with – too many kids around), he and another boy managed to lock themselves in a toilet (after both apparently being supervised 1:1).    They locked themselves in and refused to come out.   The staff called teachers, Deputy Head and the Head.   The toilets were in an internal cubicle, one of those that you COULD just unlock from the outside, whip them out and if necessary use safe hold until they manage to calm down.

Did they decide to do that??  Of course not, that would have been too sensible.  It wasn’t something that the kids hadn’t done before, but the Head in her wisdom decided to take this day to make an issue of it.

The head teacher, in her “wisdom” decided to leave the two boys in the cubicle as if they unlocked the door from the outside, it might swing back and hit one of the teachers.  For goodness sake, there were about 7 adults there, and she is saying that none of them could have held the door as it was opened to stop it swinging out??

The two boys, becoming agitated, began to feed off the situation and began to shout.  They had a captive audience.  Frustration meant they began to swear (allegedly, see end of post) and kick at the cubicle.  For them, there was now no way out.

They were in that cubicle for about 2 hours.  They eventually kicked the cubicle so much it began to shatter (2 x 9 year olds wearing plimsolls).

Some mainstream children had approached the scene in the afternoon and were sent to other toilets (take note of this).

Dad arrives on the scene and defuses it instantly.

The two children are excluded for damage to school property and for swearing.   (neither would have happened if the situation had been managed properly)

I took it to appeal.   HT had solicitor, and the panel are made to rule on the acts, nothing regarding the circmstances leading up to it are taken into account.  HT treated it as if it was a war with someone winning at the end of it all.  Nobody wins in these situations.

The education authority devised appeal panel upheld the exclusion.  The letter stated that the panel were happy that the exclusion had taught the 2 boys a valuable lesson about their behaviour (uh huh.  Just what about global learning difficulties and sensory issues do they not get?)  As if he cares a fig about being excluded.  It’s a holiday to him.

In the appeal, there was MASSIVE emphasis placed on the children who had heard some of it (the ones sent away who saw nothing from earlier), and how they needed to be counselled afterwards.   I am led to believe now that it was a lie.  I wish I had known that a few weeks ago.

I have no grief with potential that children who don’t have disabilities might have needed some suppor, but the fact is my son got NOTHING.

The head teacher told me she would take the same decision again in the future, and that is was a safe place for him to be.  They also told me that they would not use safe hold as the children might come back in 15 years and sue them.   Constant supervision, high handles on doors, staff who can de-escalate and diffuse – all not happening.

I refused to let him go back.   He has been out of school now for 4 months, with no prospect of school again until August at a stand alone special school.

The school in queston received a dire HMIe Inspection Report at around the same time saying that the special needs children are not being treated with respect etc etc.  The head teacher has only been there for a year, so they are blaming historic influences, despite these children managing at their previous school.

And I will leave you with this.  At the appeal hearing, the panel asked the Head to give an example of the bad language and swearing that was being used…………………………

Are you ready for this……………………

“Well I think he was trying to call me a f***ing wh*re, but it came out as “Huffing Horse”.

He has brain damage.  He was calling her a Huffing Horse, and that’s the end of it.  Whats worse, is that the panel believed her.  I will never ever be able to look at her straight in the face again without being tempted to say “neiiiiighh”, or “giddy up”.

I bet the solicitor in attendance didn’t note that down.

Comments

  1. Alison Carmichael says

    It sounds like an awful situation that you and your family were placed in. I don’t think you over reacted at all.

  2. Mel Butcher says

    Being the mother of a disabled child myself I am all too aware of how badly mainstream schools cope with with special needs pupils, however this has to be the worst situation I’ve ever come across.
    I don’t blame you for removing your son from the school, I’d have done the exact same thing.
    I had to fight like hell to get my son into the local school for children for behavioural issues, unfortunately it took the Local Education Authority years and when I won the fight my son had less than a year left at school so it was too little too late for him. Start your fight now and involve your GP, Specialist and any other involved parties that are willing to help and don’t stop pushing until they give your son what he needs.
    Good luck with it all, it won’t be easy, but will be worthwhile.

    • Scottish Mum says

      Thanks for the comment. Sorry to hear about your sons situation as well. Its such a shame what they are doing to our kids with no conscience.

    • Scottish Mum says

      It’s amazing isn’t it. I hope it never happens to you and thankfully not all schools are like that.

  3. fastandluce says

    Seems to me that those with the totally unacceptable behaviour were the staff, into whose care you placed your son every day. whilst it is hard not to smile at the “huffing horse” in such a serious matter, I did. If the staff arent able to deal with times like this, they shouldn’t be involved with children. You totally did the right thing and I’m just sorry you didnt get justice from the politically INcorrect panel.

  4. Deb @ Aspergers, family life and me says

    I’m shocked and angry but not unsurprised that this sort of thing is happening. I would have done exactly the same thing as you and taken my child out. You have not over-reacted; you have responded as a loving mum and human being. Stay strong.

  5. Broody IVF Mummy says

    You are not over-reacting at all. I know that this caused you lots of distress at the time. I cannot begin to comprehend what your son and your family went through.

    Did the panel not speak to any of his special needs team? Do you have SENCO or anything similar that you could refer back to?

    Have you asked advice from a legal bod? Maybe some advice about trying to get some educational support whilst he’s not at school. Especially since going back into a school environment will be tough for him when August does arrive.

    All the best with this x

  6. says

    I absolutely agree that you did the right thing. My son had sensory integration issues when he was a little dude, but has appeared to grow out of it. (He’s almost 17 now!) Be strong hun, sometimes the only ones believing in our kids is us! You absolutely did the right thing!! x

    • Scottish Mum says

      I am glad I did it. Sad he is losing nearly another year of schooling after being forced to miss year 1 as well.

  7. says

    As an educator I’m shocked and ashamed that this goes on and that fellow professionals treat vulnerable children in such an appalling manner.

    I wouldn’t send a child of mine into that environment either. Far from an overreaction – you’re safeguarding your son’s physical and mental wellbeing by keeping him out of that excuse for a school. XX

  8. Nikkii says

    Your story is shocking, absolutely shocking. I can’t remember the last time I saw a good thing written about Aberdeen regarding Education… then again I probably get Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire mixed up… one of them seems to always be in the news for slashing budgets, closing schools, cutting teachers and basically mis-managing the whole shebang.

    FWIW I agree with everyone else – you did the right thing – crikey what else COULD you have done? I’d probably be seeing about getting my child Legal Aid and proceeding down a legal route in his name, I’d be chucking disability discrimination at them loud, louder and loudest.

    • Scottish Mum says

      Thank you. Both Aberdeen and the Shire are making large cuts to education. We are losing most of the personal support assistants in mainstream classes and the teacher ratio in ASN is increasing from 1:7 to 1 :10. It isn’t good news.

  9. Abbie says

    It shocks me to think how they can treat people like this! Truly shocking! the situation was handled terribly by the school, that is the last thing they should have done! Sorry to hear it x

    • Scottish Mum says

      Thanks Tillie. I wish they saw it that way though. Will be over to comment on your latest one soon as well.

  10. Susan says

    Hi, I am new to your blog and have just finished reading your 2 posts about the school..the way they are treating your son is disgusting and really feel for both of you.
    My 14 year old has high functioning autism and has coped in mainstream but that has been due to schools that have supported him and tried to understand his needs. He has a quiet room he can go to if he gets upset and has friends that he has known since he was 5 that look out for him.
    Your son must have been terrified with all those teachers standing outside the door..no wonder he lost it! My son did a similar thing at his school , he hid under a table and wouldnt come out, so the school rang and asked me to go in as they didnt want to distress him further. They kept the other children out the room and let his best friend stay with him till i got there..if they had all surrounded him and started demanding he came out he would have lost it too! Turns out there was nothing he liked left for lunch and he was hungry, not knowing what to do or who to tell he had panicked and hidden.
    Hope things work out soon, your son is lucky to have you xx

    • Scottish Mum says

      That is the difference I think. They saw my son as a trouble maker rather than a disabled child who had got out of his depth with no way out. Thank you for your lovely coments. It’s nice to connect with you. i think I have you followed now.

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