This week’s blog is written by Michelle Wood, Client Manager. Michelle worked in a secondary school for ten years where she spent four years supporting students in the isolation room. During her time spent in isolation rooms, Michelle encountered many students who needed support. Here is an example of a day in the life of a student*, who is determined to be well behaved, despite the challenges faced:
“I am walking to school, I left early as there was no food in the house anyway and mum has been out all night- might see if I can nick something from the shop on the way in. I hope Mr North does not start on me again today, he always picks on me and sends me out for no reason. I am getting bored of being in the isolation room now though, it means I can’t see my friends at break or lunch and that means no food either as I normally steal a roll from the canteen. I can’t afford lunch.
I am going to try hard today to stay in the lesson with my friends. I walk down the corridor and into my English classroom, but before I even get in the door the teacher is glaring at me and pointing the finger: “Don’t you start again today, or you will be out of my lesson’. I swear in response and then I’m off before they can catch me. As I go round the corner i’m met by SLT who have been radioed to look for me. They march me straight into isolation- the dreaded room. I’m told I’m staying here all day and that I’d better apologise to Sir or I will be in here again tomorrow and the day after. If my behaviour carries on like this then they say I will be permanently excluded.
Funny thing is I haven’t even done anything. Ok, the first time I was sent of lessons out I did laugh when my friend fell off his chair, and oh the second time was because I hadn’t finished my work, but I did say I didn’t understand it so many times. I was told I was lazy and given a detention, which I didn’t go to- why should I if they won’t help?
No one cares about me at school or at home.”
*based on a true story, names have been removed.
“Is this a reality that is in your school? Sounds very harsh, but unfortunately for some it is. Broadly speaking this may be the 5% or the 2% of learners, if you are lucky, in some schools. From this student’s perspective, we can see that they clearly do not understand the work in most lessons, and that they find it hard to concentrate because of tiredness and hunger. This student doesn’t know any better. They are not being parented at home and no one shows them how to behave in school. They should have learnt that in Primary School, right? But what if no one has ever shown them- what if this student has gone from the naughty step to detention to internal isolation to exclusion? All through their school years if no one has shown them or guided them in the right way to behave, then how are they supposed to know?
Building those positive relationships is so important for students like this. They need to have a sense of belonging. Students don’t follow rules, they follow people. Show them you care and that you are invested in their future. Build a mutual trust between you. When a student trusts their teacher, they are more likely to make more of an effort to follow the rules.
This is a recent statement I read in a well known tabloid recently:
In March, delegates at the National Education Union conference in Brighton voted unanimously to oppose “the move towards ever more punitive behaviour policies in schools” saying it was “feeding a mental health crisis for children.”
Let’s make school a great place to be, building a positive culture of recognition and reward. Being calm, being consistent. Learner behaviour improves when surrounded when surrounded by emotionally calm and consistent adults. Learning environments become more predictable and learners understand how they are expected to behave to achieve within the school. Ultimately, calm and consistent adults produce calmer and happier learners.”
If you want to start your pivotal journey get in touch with us at the office and we can talk through how we can help you.