7 kids in 7 days: Arianne

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.

5 thoughts on “7 kids in 7 days: Arianne

  1. Comprehensive Pupil, Grammar Parent

    “Arianne is now in year 9, though. Arianne has been at risk of permanent exclusion since the first term in year 7”

    So 29 children have had approaching three years of their education stolen from them, while weak schools like yours refuse to exclude a child out of a mis-placed idea of inclusion. You wonder why parents who actually care about their children’s education do everything in their power to avoid schools that offer “inclusion”, don’t you? What would you do if your child’s education was destroyed for three years by teachers who are too busy being “inclusive” of one at the expense of the other 29?

    Reply
    1. Teacher_P

      CP, GP,

      No, 29 children haven’t had their education stolen. Far more than that!

      In most comps some subjects are streamed, others “mixed ability”. Arianne will be with a mix of different kids for most of her subjects depending how this is arranged.

      She’ll have had the opportunity to damage the education of at least 100 others.

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  3. hillsofnottingham

    In reply to Comprehensive Pupil, Grammar Parent. Please understand the school often has their hands tied over pupils like this. There are consequences for exclusion for the management team and the costs of managing children with this level of behaviour is massive in both staff time and morale. If the school is state funded and inclusion is part of the political will you have to take it on the chin. Especially as the properly trained and supported “special” schools have all but gone. Academisation? Great, let’s sweep these kids into someone else’s patch.

    It takes a whole school approach and it has to start at the Primary level. Even then these children often revert as soon as the support management is removed. What we really need to be doing is sharing the successful ways we manage these children; because I agree with you totally, every child has the right to education and one in the class should not steal that from all the others.

    We have had “unteachable” children, put them through school and still managed to provide a quality of education for the others. Our other children have been instrumental in making these “unteachables” want to be like them; our support staff have worked hard to socialise and develop communications skills with them and in extremis, our head takes on the active role of seclusion teaching when all else fails. It only works because we all work at it from Senior Leadership down.

    Reply

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