Arianne has 800 negative behaviour points logged this year. Given the average incident garners 2 points, that’s 400 incidents of poor behaviour since September.
But this is hardly a fair representation of the havoc she causes. Scroll through a standard student’s file, and they’ll have a handful of points for missed detentions and forgotten homeworks. There are no such points for Arianne. Does she not get set homework? Does she never get detentions? Course not. Teachers just realise they have to focus on frying the big fish or they’d be on the laptop all day talking about her.
In my first week, Arianne called me a “fucking tranny”. A few weeks later, she deliberately snapped every single ruler, protractor and pencil stored at the front of the classroom for later use in that lesson, because I’d made her angry by putting her name on the board for talking over me. Not long after that, she squared up to a boy in class and told him he was a dirty homo and liked it up the bum.
The response from every member of staff – from my colleagues in the maths office, SMT, and behaviour support officers – has been “just log it on SIMS”. Everyone knows Arianne’s treading the predictable path that leads to permanent exclusion. They just need enough evidence to make the case to governors and make sure it’s upheld.
Arianne is now in year 9, though. Arianne has been at risk of permanent exclusion since the first term in year 7. The scale and extent of disruption and hurt Arianne has caused is horrifying to contemplate.
I once looked into her record from primary school. The euphemisms started early on. She was “lively” in year 3. A “kinaesthetic learner”. She had “trouble making friends”. In year 4, Arianne was excluded for 3 days for assaulting a teacher. This was the first of half a dozen she’d acquire under the age of 11. In year 6, Arianne was asked to take the last few weeks of term off, because things had got too much. The primary school felt she could “do with a fresh start” in her new secondary school. This essentially amounted to brushing the problems under the carpet, minimising communication between relevant services, and starting to create the perfect storm for secondary.
Arianne has a SEN label of BESD. This does not provide an explanation for her behaviour – it’s just a description. The label has given her access to a series of short term interventions that seem to have had little impact. She’s had anger management classes a plenty. Still didn’t stop her flipping over my table hulk-style when the TA asked her to do some work.
The main effect of the BESD label has been providing an excuse. No longer is her poor behaviour a choice. It is an inevitable consequence of her special needs. No longer is there any need to dig deeper to find a solution: she’s on the SEN register. It’s just how it has to be.
I’m sure the system does not have to work this way. I read about a primary teacher who worked really hard to get kids off the SEN register by working with parents to provide focused support until they could work successfully in the mainstream context. But not here.
I believe that the vast, vast majority of the population is capable of exercising control over their behaviour. But if that basic standard really is not possible for Arianne, by god, she should have gone to specialist provision years ago. If we’re going to decide a child is incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions and behaving properly, someone else needs to step in and take that responsibility for them. That takes money, resources and time. There’s no denying that. But at the moment these uncontrollable children are operating in a responsibility vacuum, insulated by layers of obfuscation and excuses.
Whether you’re an apologist for Arianne or you think she’s a disgrace, everyone agrees that she is not containable in a mainstream school. This has been clear for years. The idea that we just have to wait it out until her behaviour record gets long enough to kick her out helps absolutely nobody. It is the inclusion agenda at its absolute worst.