School complaints Yr8

(59 Posts)
chaosmonkey Mon 10-Feb-14 19:24:20

DS1 and 2 of his friends have been very upset by a teacher threatening them at school - they are aware that his threats are empty and meant to be jokes, but are still terrified of going to his lessons (2 of them were in tears one day asking to be kept at home that day as they were so scared)

When I complained, they said that they'd pull all 3 in, hear their side of it, and reassure them that everything is fine.

DS1 came home very upset - he'd been pulled out of his maths lesson to be told off for telling tales. The school thinks they shouldn't tell us what has happened, and that they will be punished if they continue to 'tell tales on teachers'

The school said to me they wouldn't do anything unless I put in a formal complaint, but that if I did that I'd have to make a public apology if the complaint procedure decided that the kids weren't being bullied!

AIBU to be really upset about this?

bodygoingsouth Mon 10-Feb-14 19:28:22

don't understand. the lads are 13? the teacher made threats as a joke confused the kids know it was a joke but they are terrified??

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Mon 10-Feb-14 19:32:24

They can't make to do a public apology, and I'd love to see any complaints procedure that tried. Worrying that they are telling children not to tell their parents if something has frightened it upset them.

would speak to the school abd see what their side of the story ( not through the filter of a thirteen year old ) is?

Peekingduck Mon 10-Feb-14 19:32:50

p.m. me the name of the school. I will treat it in strictest confidence. I'll have a look and see if I can find their complaints policy to check this out.
No school complaints policy can state that someone will be forced to make a public apology if their complaint isn't upheld.

bodygoingsouth Mon 10-Feb-14 20:01:54

sorry still don't understand the op. why are they scared if they know it's a joke? sorry if missing something here.

chaosmonkey Mon 10-Feb-14 20:14:06

The specific punishment they knew were threatened with is not likely to happen.. They felt they were likely to be punished in some way... and that he may follow through on the 'joke' threat. It was a 'if you dont do X i eill make you do Y' threat. Based on army punishments. Teacher is ex-army

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 20:17:05

"Teacher is ex-army"

Designed to enforce discipline and build character sad

Will he make them do push ups?

OpalQuartz Mon 10-Feb-14 20:21:34

I think it's possible for someone to be intimidating while dressing it up as "just joking." The making you do a pubic apology threat is bonkers. It doesn't sound like a nice school at all! sad

bodygoingsouth Mon 10-Feb-14 20:29:50

mmm children should feel safe at school even if they are in trouble.

sounds wierd. you may need to see the head and governors. put it in writing

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 20:32:08

But Gove wants soldiers in to enforce discipline. What does he expect them to do?

Ragwort Mon 10-Feb-14 20:32:51

Take it up with the governors - although if it is anything like the school my DS attends you have no idea who the governors are - I thought all schools had to have a section on the website about governors?

I've just voted for a parent governor, no idea who I am voting for apart from a short paragraph they wrote about themselves. (And I don't mean to sound unkind about school governors, my DH was one for a number of years).

bodygoingsouth Mon 10-Feb-14 20:34:11

strong make role models can be fantastic for lads and girls but they should make them feel safe and teach boundaries and respect. not fear.

So they're threatening you and the children? I'd write to Ofsted and the governors explaining you expect your children to be educated, not threatened and bullied by the person who's supposed to know better and set examples about manners, principles and decency. If you can't find their complaints procedure ask for it and writing and add this to your complaint as well.

What was the punishment? Was it humiliating - undressing, physical abuse, cleaning a toilet with a tooth brush? Make it clear you want them to be able to phone you at any time if they want you to pick them up. That is not on treating children, or yourself, in such a bullying manner.

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 20:49:35

"The school said to me they wouldn't do anything unless I put in a formal complaint, but that if I did that I'd have to make a public apology if the complaint procedure decided that the kids weren't being bullied!"

Please - a complaint should be investigated. Do they expect you to stand in assembly and apologise?

Mojang Mon 10-Feb-14 20:54:01

Is this a private school? That's the only way i can think it might be "ok" for them to insist on the apology.

tethersend Mon 10-Feb-14 20:59:34

I'm more concerned by the fact that the children were told off for speaking to their parents and 'telling tales'. This flies in the face of safeguarding advice- children should never be encouraged to keep secrets from their parents, least of all by trusted adults.

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 21:01:35

I cannot believe a school would tell a child not to "tell tales on their teacher".

I think the school should put that in writing - and then you take that to OFSTED.

chaosmonkey Mon 10-Feb-14 21:02:11

Worrying that they are telling children not to tell their parents if something has frightened it upset them

YY Hopalong, this is what is really upsetting me.

I think it's possible for someone to be intimidating while dressing it up as "just joking."

Exactly Opal - that's exactly how I'm reading it.

Sparkle - it was cleaning with a toothbrush - you've obviously watched the same army films. smile

He makes them do press-ups and I don't mind that Holly!

I do mind him getting the other kids to gang up on him, or telling him that he can make their lives difficult in such a way that they'd have no evidence to tell the parents.

and I'm fuming that he's been told off for 'accusing an innocent teacher', without any checking to see if the teacher is innocent.

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 21:03:55

"He makes them do press-ups and I don't mind that Holly! "

Is that as a punishment or as part of PE?

Is he a PE teacher?

chaosmonkey Mon 10-Feb-14 21:07:35

how did you guess Holly?

Yes, as a punishment. But then it's in the context of a PE lesson, so I'm not bothered (although they have to do that if they correct him when he calls a child by the wrong name). Bad jokes are punishable by press-ups. Personally I thought that was quite funny.

chaosmonkey Mon 10-Feb-14 21:10:12

ooh - sorry Mojang - nope, not a private - bog standard state school...

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 21:11:12

Sounds like someone is trying to be an Army PE teacher in a secondary school.

At what point does he forget he's actually a secondary teacher and reverts to Army mode?

chaosmonkey Mon 10-Feb-14 21:11:50

DS1 now wants mumsnet to give permission for him to have a day off school for his traumas. I am laughing and sending him to bed.

Logg1e Mon 10-Feb-14 21:15:38

This is worrying.

I would write to the head and chair of governors and ask to see the school's complaint procedure because you want to clarify:
a) the bit about parents having to make a public apology.
b) the punishment for any student "telling tales" on a teacher.
c) what teacher behaviours come under such tale-telling and what would be a child-protection issue.

Mojang Mon 10-Feb-14 21:17:29

When my dc get caught it in a lie they often claim to be "only joking" I tell them something only qualifies as a joke if it'sfunny...

I am possibly the least publicity seeking person in the world but really I think this is one for the local paper.Certainly tell the school that's what you intend to do.

tethersend Mon 10-Feb-14 21:17:36

"or telling him that he can make their lives difficult in such a way that they'd have no evidence to tell the parents."

Ok, this is a serious safeguarding concern and If it's not resolved, I would consider complaining to the LEA and Ofsted.

Well that's just downright unimaginative of him Chaos. Maybe he's never been near the army and he just likes bigging himself up to a group of kids. Tethers and Holly made great points about telling children not to tell on teachers. I'd be confronting him in front of the class and asking if he's something to hide then (but I'm quite thick and that would probably make it worse). What a wally.

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 21:38:14

I bet the Head asked the teacher, he said the children were lying and the children got told off for telling tales.

Because of course the teacher would say that's what he did and said.

Is it his first job ex Army? Has he been there long?

Logg1e Mon 10-Feb-14 21:39:46

Telling tales doesn't mean telling lies though, that's one reason this is so worrying.

chaosmonkey Mon 10-Feb-14 21:43:34

I am currently trying to work out what to do for the best. DS1 is v worried that I'm just going to make matters worse for him at school.

It's really annoying that I wanted the school to have a quiet word with the teacher, to let him know he was being a bit out of order and to tone things down.

They've gone into defensive mode, and not dealt with the issue well at all.

I'm torn between kicking up a mighty stink and letting things rumble on and seeing if the PE teacher stops being such an arse now he knows that people are complaining about him.

TBH it feels like the school are behaving so badly that all I can do is massively escalate, or back down.

Grr - why couldn't they just listen to parental concerns and react as if we were sensible people!

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 21:45:11

"DS1 is v worried that I'm just going to make matters worse for him at school. "

That's the reaction of a child who is being bullied by a pupil and does not want their parent to say anything in case it makes it worse.

No child should have that fear of a teacher. Ever.

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 21:46:01

They should take bullying seriously. By pupils and by teachers.

We are not in the old days.

chaosmonkey Mon 10-Feb-14 21:48:50

Nope - he is a new teacher, and is still T(erritorial) A(rmy) apparently.

Yes Loggle - it seems that no-one is disputing that the threats happened, just the interpretation of it as bullying behavior

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 21:51:53

You don't threaten children unless you are prepared to carry it through. That's a simple rule for parents and teachers.

Otherwise you lose respect and control.

You don't rule by fear and intimidation. Basic teaching rule. If he was observed by OFSTED doing that, there would be concerns.

chaosmonkey Mon 10-Feb-14 22:12:33

Thanks for your thoughts on this - I was starting to worry that the school were right and I was being unhinged...

That's what I thought Holly - I'm fairly certain I was told when DS1 was 2 never to make a threat that you can't carry out!

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 22:15:44

I've been teaching for many years. I have discussed not letting children attend Xmas party unless their behaviour improves. That's a threat that can be carried out (but it would be really really mean).

But I would be appalled if a child felt unsafe or scared in my class.

Peekingduck Mon 10-Feb-14 22:43:09

I'm having a think about this one Op, will reply to your pm later.

Peekingduck Mon 10-Feb-14 23:05:53

There is some information you can ask the school office for while you decide what to do Op. Ask for the complaints procedure (which they have to have by law). This does not have to be published on their website, although it's good practice. The link to the school policies doesn't work on their site anyway... But they must produce it on request, and if you make a formal complaint they must follow it.
Like some others, I'm wondering about the safeguarding aspect, as it appears that students have been threatened. Statutory guidance requires that schools have a "Statement of procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse against staff". You could ask for a copy of that as well and have a read.
If you decide to take this further make sure you know what outcome you want and state it when you put it in writing. It's really frustrating when a parent raises a complaint, gets to maybe a panel hearing of governors, but hasn't thought about what outcome they want. If an individual member of staff is involved then they can't give details of any disciplinary action, but would just assure you that action of some description had been taken.
The school cannot require that someone raising a complaint will have to make any sort of public apology if it's decided to be unfounded. That threat is grounds for a complaint in itself. I might be inclined to email whoever said that "With reference to out conversation, can I just ask you to confirm that if I make a complaint and it isn't upheld I will be required to make a public apology?". Answer could be interesting and worth keeping. If a complaint isn't upheld then that's the end of it, and normally the complainant will have been given enough information to agree that their concerns had been investigated and considered properly.
Ignore anyone telling you to "complain to the governors". If you decide to take this up then follow the procedure step by step. There is a stage after the governing body panel enquiry that gives you the chance to take a complaint to the DfE if you aren't satisfied with the outcome. That is in the complaints procedure. The school in question is "in category" as of the last Ofsted inspection - judged to be "Requires Improvement". Although their subsequent Section 8 inspection was favourable they aren't out of the woods and don't need a serious complaint getting to the DfE stage I'd have thought. Is it a Safeguarding issue? I'm not an expert on that, but staff threatening pupils qualifies I think.
This link www.education.gov.uk/schools/toolsandinitiatives/cuttingburdens/a00201669/statutory-policies-for-schools gives details of which policies schools are legally required to hold if anyone's interested.

HollyMiamiFLA Mon 10-Feb-14 23:07:13

peekingduck

Did you cut and paste that from the last thread on complaints grin

I always wondered what happened to that complaint. Was it ignored?

chaosmonkey Tue 11-Feb-14 09:35:17

Thanks all for your support and advice. I've emailed asking for the policies and for confirmation/further information about the 'full public apology'

I think that I'll put a complaint in, in the hope that the initial flashpoint (the boys and parents not supporting a rule which was unsafe) is removed, and maybe try to get them to agree that they shouldn't ignore complaints until key words are used, and then have a go at parents and kids for using keywords!

HollyMiamiFLA Tue 11-Feb-14 09:37:06

Good luck.

There was a thread about a parent who had been accuses of lying by the school. It seemed the school just decided to ignore the complaint.

HollyMiamiFLA Tue 11-Feb-14 09:38:50

And if you don't get anywhere, complain to OFSTED about bullying and behaviour. They take this seriously - and bullying is bullying be it by pupils or teachers.

They will also be very concerned about safeguarding as well. A standard question in teaching interviews is "How would you keep your pupils safe?"

Peekingduck Tue 11-Feb-14 10:25:18

Holly - interesting you ask that. As far as I can see the Op of that particular thread didn't come back to update us. And yes, if I could have found that thread I would have copied and pasted. grin

I'll just say that most schools do their best to deal with complaints properly. And that in my experience they wouldn't accuse anyone of lying unless they were really sure of their facts. Also, there might be the odd rogue member of staff or HT coming out with daft stuff about public apologies etc, but the DfE would take a very different view.

Peekingduck Tue 11-Feb-14 10:26:28

Oh, does everyone know about Parentview?
parentview.ofsted.gov.uk/
You know Ofsted look at that when they do an inspection don't you?

chaosmonkey Tue 11-Feb-14 17:03:33

ooh yes, I know that I've 'done' parentview before for the primary school - but now I'll consider putting something on that - depending on what happened.

Funnily enough, the response to my email asking for more info on the public apology said they'd post me the procedures and neither confirmed nor denied the public apology thing!

Logg1e Tue 11-Feb-14 17:26:34

Have you provided further details?

chaosmonkey Tue 11-Feb-14 18:00:33

Further details on what? They are posting me the policies....

Logg1e Tue 11-Feb-14 18:34:20

Sorry, I misread your post, I wrongly thought they'd asked you for more information on what you meant about the public apology. In that case I'd reply, thanking them for sending that out and asking them to clarify your other point, about a parent having to make a public apology if the outcome didn't go in their favour. You could say you were also curious about what, historically, had counted as "public" and how many times this had happened in the last two academic years.

chaosmonkey Tue 11-Feb-14 19:16:06

My comment about a public apology was purely personal and anecdotal and used to emphasise the seriousness of an allegation of bullying against a member of teaching staff. This is not school policy and I'm sorry if I led you to believe that this was so.

Is that the lovely sound of frantic back-pedaling, do you think?

Logg1e Tue 11-Feb-14 19:20:33

"Purely personal and anecdotal"?? Who said that bit in bold?

Logg1e Tue 11-Feb-14 19:22:04

I'd be tempted to ask, "so in how many cases (personal or otherwise) has a parent been made to offer a public apology?"

Only tempted though, 'cos you're right, they've done what you asked - clarified that it's false.

innisglas Tue 11-Feb-14 19:34:25

Mmm, I'm actually more concerned about the boys being told that they cannot "tell tales" to their parents, that is sooo wrong in so many levels.

chaosmonkey Tue 11-Feb-14 19:43:52

the bold bit is from the person who told me I would need to make a public apology - the head of house who is dealing with the issue...

HollyMiamiFLA Tue 11-Feb-14 19:47:41

I think the Head of House is in for a bollocking from the Head of the School.

Is he also the one who said children should not "tell tales"?

Good shot chaos - you got them to admit to it in writing grin

Peekingduck Tue 11-Feb-14 20:29:25

Lovely! Just what I was hoping for Chaos. Another element to your complaint, nicely documented. I'm sure you'll work through this fine once you see the procedure, it's normally quite straightforward.
I don't think you should engage in any more conversation or emails about this, just get the policy and use it. Document everything with dates in preparation. I think when you make the complaint, as you are going to mention the threats made, you should include a request for the Headteacher to consider if there are any Safeguarding issues to be addressed.

Peekingduck Tue 11-Feb-14 20:31:09

If you don't have that complaints procedure in your hand by let's say Thursday, ring up and ask where it is. If you go into school ask for it to be left in Reception for you to collect later in the day. They must have it, it is a legal requirement.

chaosmonkey Tue 11-Feb-14 22:05:25

Yep Holly - same teacher talked to me and the children.

thanks peeking - I really appreciate your help on this!

smile Sparkle. I have to admit I did a little dance when I got the email!

Loggle - am trying to prevent myself from following up with nasty comments.

In the first email I got from the head of the PE dept (not the teacher I was complaining about) he spelt misunderstanding as miss-understanding.

First draft of the reply said

I don't believe this is either a miss-understanding or a misunderstanding

But I removed it because I'm great at self-restraint. grin

Right - off to have a little tia-maria to celebrate stage one complete

Thanks everyone!

deakymom Tue 11-Feb-14 22:09:02

public apology "im sorry your not funny and my children didn't get the joke im sorry that you feel children should not tell their parents if something upsets them im sorry im thinking of changing schools im really sorry for you"

think they would appreciate that one?

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