Would you work in a school for children with extreme challenging behaviour?(34 Posts)
Asking for the wisdom of Mumsnet. Visited a very good school, great team, interesting but the children have exceedingly challenging behaviour (think 2:1 staff ratios) and very profound learning needs. It appeals because I'm really to move out of the Ofsted pressure and one size fits all in mainstream. But I would witness a greal deal of violent behaviour on a very regular basis. Thoughts?
Am presently doing supply loving it but hating the lack of financial security.
I worked in a Couple of schools for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, as a Social Worker/ House parent. It really depends on the ethos of the place. The first place I worked in was fantastic, a bit of a hippy place , a boarding school, vegetarian, felt very calm and safe. I then qualified as a social worker, and later went to work in another therapeutic community boarding school. It was really stressful, a lot of violent behaviour, and I left as I didn't feel safe. My team leader came in covered in bruises as she had been beaten up by a 12 year old! And a boy pushed out a window on the first floor and it shattered where I had been standing moments earlier. The staff were forever bitching about each other.
Yes I'm worried it could be the latter I know that the behaviour will be violent because these children come from all over the country and the teacher referred this as a 'last resort'. But it is seemingly a very good school. I don't know about the staff, imagine the stress levels must be high.
It's funny as on paper, the second school looked better. It was a renowned therapeutic community, and it sounded fantastic when I visited - things like monthly supportive groups with a psychologist and a womens group for the staff, but alot of the staff were very into self analysis and up themselves basically . This was also known as a last resort! However it was about 14 years ago that I worked there so the ethos could be very different now. It was also very insular, alot of the staff lived in, the hours were very long for care staff and it was hard to have a life outside of the place. It was stressful.
It really depends on the ethos and the atmosphere. We've been visiting EBD/SN schools for DS1 and it's telling that some seem to have a high staff turnover, while others are celebrating people retiring or moving on after over a decade there. Even in a well run school, staff need to be cohesive and support each other. I know someone who worked in a PRU. She loved the kids but found the working atmosphere increasingly difficult and ended up leaving due to ill health.
Yes - I think the words you used ..."great team"... makes all the difference.
However, OFSTED still come and harass you in Special Ed too you know,
they just know even less about the reality of it.
I think it is also about whether YOU would work with challenging behaviour. I wouldn't because I know it isn't where my strengths in the classroom lie. I am hopeless when challenged and it sends my anxiety sky high. Equally, some would be petrified by the high pressured academic environment I work in.
It is what suits you
I did EBD for several years. I worked in a unit within and EBD school for the most complex and challenging children. I LOVED it. The staff were like a family, I found the kids fascinating and I found teaching 1:1 much more rewarding than class teaching.
There were problems between staff but I think it was more to do with it being a small school than an EBD school.
I worked in an extremely challenging school for 10 years including several years as SENCo. There did come a point when I couldnt, and no longer wanted to, cope with the daily " challenges" if you see what I mean. I relished the challenge and found it very rewarding for about 6 years, then gradually felt physically and emotionally wrung out and knew it was time to call it a day at that particular school.
If you are physically and emotionally resilient and would have mutually supportive colleagues then I would say go for it.
I am an EBD Primary specialist and I LOVE it too! Totally agree with Inclusionist about the children. What I also love is that all of us work together as a team regardless of our job designation - everyone is as important as each other. We are like a family too. I have been doing it for 9 years and have no plans to stop - was a mainstream teacher for 17 years before that in inner-city schools
There will be violent behaviour (your setting sounds like it is for the most challenging pupils), but you should be taught to de-escalate and so avoid violence and holding as much as possible.
Meant to add, as storynanny says, you will need to be physically and emotionally resilient.
You realise the Ofsted still come into sn schools? Because of some of the inspectors lack of understanding about sn the questions they ask are bizarre.
Some schools do have a high turnover of staff and yes on paper it doesn't look great. However, it might not be that bad. We have had a high turn over. This has been either because we've had lots of new grads who have been with us simply until something better comes along, didn't fully understand the physical work involved, or wouldn't work as a team when needed, and when ideas given how to deal with certain situations, this was taken as bullying.
You also need to ascertain the support levels from management and other professionals. It can really be dire, and until things go severely wrong, they don't want to know. Or they have rather bizarre expectations.
You will need to be a calm person. Some young people push you to your limits and beyond to get a response. It can be emotionally draining at times. Depending on the challanging behaviour, the days can be very repititive and you will be doing and saying the same thing every day for months.
But the rewards are really worth it, if you think you can handle the work. There is nothing worse that someone that cannot handle the job. The children pick up on it and it makes life difficult for everyone.
Yes, but plan an exit strategy. I really enjoyed working with children who had behavioural difficulties for about 5 years.
Also, ask yourself honestly, can you take some physical and verbal abuse for pupils without taking it personally.
I dont think I could have done the ten years during a period in my life when I had very young children of my own at home who needed my full attention after a draining day at school. I did my stint with challenging children when my own were older teenagers or at university and therefore I had more time at home to rest and recuperate!
Storynanny, my DC were 3 and 4 when I first started ESBD! It was draining, but I was working part-time. Now they are in secondary I work full-time and it is easier as the demands are different.
Manyhands, I guess if you are working FT ATM, you can't spend any length of time in the unit? Are you able to talk with staff there about their experiences? (ie not just management)
I also work with children with EBD, as others have said it depends so much on the team you work with.
Working with people who truly believe that all children are entitled to education is important rather than those who tick all the right boxes. I find it's in the atmosphere and ethos of a school rather than in any particular method.
A sense of humour is very important, I don't find it too stressful .I find the teaching can be a bit more creative.
I work in a secondary school for boys with BESD.
I have 3 school age kids.
I love it, but it is draining both physically and emotionally. I get home from school and am counting the hours until bedtime. I don't go out
at all on week nights because I'm simply too tired....
Staff turnover is very low...a number of staff in my school have been there for over 20 years!
as a staff team, we are generally very close, and try to socialise together often.
We are taught de-escalation techniques, and as you learn about your children, and how they like to be managed, physical violence occurs less and less.
The bad days in school can be hell on earth, but when it's good, it's the best job in the world!
Rewards are huge, and loyalty from the kids, once you gain it, lasts a lifetime.....
I say go for it! Good luck!
Wow, so much useful advice thank you everyone.
I never regretted leaving mainstream for ESBD settings.
I've applied for the job, thanks everyone.
Yay! Good luck.
My favourite ever 'job' was my year volunteering in a secondary special school. So much more rewarding than the very naice setting where I work now.
Oh good luck, manyhands! Let us know how it goes
I think it would depend on the school and the staff and the support. You can handle a helluva lot more crap being thrown at you if you know you're part of a team who will stand by you, with great management who aren't just out to cover their arse and fill in paperwork.
My brother's just done a social work placement at a residential unit for teenagers with real behavioural and emotional difficulties - and he absolutely loved it despite it sounding like most people's idea of hell.
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