A personal journey out of the classroom (8): Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart

I’d hired a phenomenal (again, temporary) person to work with a child with SEN. When she arrived, the child was effectively without spoken language (this was not a specialist SEN setting).

Within a matter of weeks with her careful, dedicated- yet non specialist- support and attention, the child was saying up to 30 words or so. His behaviour was particularly challenging and she became frazzled. She felt dumped on, quite rightly so, and one day stood up for herself and said that she disagreed with the provision put in place for this child. She was right to question this. She was right to put his needs and her own up for discussion. This was not met with approval as in this hierarchy; she was seen as unimportant- though in reality, was one of the most vital members of the team.

They let her go, too.

I was seething with rage- at the inequality, at the revolting way they handled hiring and firing at a whim and what this meant for the child in question.

His mother was very upset when I told her that his support TA had left. What had actually happened was that the TA received a phone call as she was leaving the night before and told not to come back to school the next day. Have you ever heard such disgraceful treatment?

The mother sat down in my room and just wept. I’d heard about the challenges she faced to this point. I knew what her housing situation was like, what her family life was like, how she struggled to keep everything together. She had never cried- not once.

But there she was, sitting on my chair, just crying.

This was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back.

One day relatively soon afterwards, when there was nothing in particular to prompt the action, I called the Head to a meeting, said I could no longer continue in the post, and resigned there and then. Once I decided, there did not appear to be any other way forwards.

I was teary as it was an emotional day. Readers- I have not revealed my gender yet but this next bit will give you a clue. During this briefest of meetings, the (female) Head asked if my leaving decision and teariness ‘was a hormonal thing’. Bearing in mind, this person would have to write a reference for me, I gritted my teeth and said nothing. But inside, I was screeching “No! But I am no longer trying to keep all the plates spinning, I hate that you gave me no support, and I detest the way you have ridden roughshod over human beings’.

I felt like a giant weight had been lifted yet felt awful at the same time.

At that point, I had a rough idea that I could do a bit of freelancing- anything actually- to be free.

I left because I disagreed with too many things, could not and would not collaborate with the established management style and structure, despite others keeping their mouths shut to protect their own backs.

I could not contemplate keeping my mouth shut when nepotism became rife. I felt that by staying I was colluding with it all.

So I left after a week.

The good news is that the place did get sorted, eventually. The changes I put in place are permanent and the measures to improve child poverty made a difference. I am proud of that. OFSTED, not that I care about them, were blown away by the children’s progress, despite the challenges.

But I felt SO guilty leaving them all and couldn’t face saying goodbye to the children and staff. No such luck- they made me face the music and dance.

Although I promised to visit, I never did. It would feel like opening the wound again.

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