Intervening in a fight

(59 Posts)
fightworry Mon 01-Apr-13 14:55:14

Can anyone please advise what the standard protocol is for handling a fight in school (Yr 7/8 children) please.

A child with SEN (ASD/ sensory issues) who I shall call Boy A had been provoked all morning by another boy (Boy B) who was told by the staff to leave Boy A alone. At break time it was wet play and all children were crowded into 2 classrooms (Boy A does not like crowds/noise). Boy A went into one classroom, saw a child there he had difficulties with so did the right thing and went into the other classroom. Unfortunately Boy B was there, approached him and carried on provoking and taunting him. Boy A repeatedly asked to be left alone but Boy B kept saying 'make me then' etc..

Boy A who has a very literal understanding then pushed Boy B in an attempt to make him go away and a fight broke out between them. Boy A had a TA supporting him who ran out of the class to get assistance and made no attempt to de-escalate the situation, verbally or otherwise.

The fight was broken up by another boy before staff arrived. Boy A was very upset and asked why the TA did not help him but the TA said that she was not allowed to intervene. Is this correct?

Boy A was immediately excluded for fighting and Boy B received a lunchtime detention a few days later.
The TA was fairly new to the school and had only spent 15 minutes with boy A before that day (was not his regular TA).

MaureenMLove Mon 01-Apr-13 14:59:43

TA was wrong. Staff are allowed to restrain or intervene to stop a fight. However, if the TA is new, it may well be that she was panicked and didn't know what to do for the best.

partystress Mon 01-Apr-13 15:41:27

Mmm, interesting. My understanding is that unless you have had specific training, you are not allowed to restrain a child. Our HT (in usual helpful style) reminded us in a staff meeting that if we touched a child and things turned out badly she would not be able to back us. There are only 4 members of staff who have had restraint training and the rest of us are very confused about what we are supposed to do when a fight breaks out or a child looks like hurting themselves.

StitchAteMyEasterEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 15:51:57

There is a difference between physically restraining a child and getting in between them to diffuse the situation. In that position I would have got a sensible child to go for help whilst I attempted to separate child A and B. If you leave the classroom without any adult supervision you run the risk of the fight escalating to involve other children.

Rainbowinthesky Mon 01-Apr-13 15:55:14

You are allowed to intervene to stop yourself or someone else being hurt. There is plenty of guidance on the DFE (or what ever they are called now) website. Your school should have a behaviour policy outlining acceptable physical intervention.

iamsmokingafag Mon 01-Apr-13 15:59:08

there must have been another member of staff in the classroom monitoring the class as well as the TA - what did they do?

bigTillyMint Mon 01-Apr-13 16:08:39

The new/cover TA sounds stupendously uselessangry She did not even attempt to get her charge away from the situation.

It also sounds unfair that he got an exclusion given the circs and his SNs.

Restraint Training was not needed in this situation - just a ounce of common sense/gumption. The boy who "broke the fight up" sounds like he did a better job by far than the adult.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 16:30:24

Why in HELL'S NAME was the DC with ASD excluded for a week for fighting yet the boy who goaded him and started the whole thing off only given a lunchtime detention?!

In whose world is that fair, proper or correct?!

This is just showing that far from DC's with ASD having 'reasonable adjustments' made for them in MS schools, as per the Equality Act 2010, they are treated far more harshly than those who bully them.

Why is the vulnerable child treated more harshly than the bully?

And that's what this was - Boy B was bullying Boy A by taunting him and goading him, knowing he would provoke a reaction.

Either BOTH boys should have hot a lunchtime detention OR both boys should have been excluded for a week.

Though tbh, MY opinion is that if ANYONE should have been treated more harshly, it should be the bully, NOT the already vulnerable victim.

This makes me so sad to read.

tethersend Mon 01-Apr-13 16:38:05

You are allowed to intervene regardless of whether you have had any training- however, the TA cannot be compelled to intervene physically. She may have had an injury which would have been exacerbated by intervening, she may have been pregnant, or just felt uncomfortable physically intervening.

Legally, she would only have been negligent if she did nothing; going to fetch help is not nothing. Whilst she is wrong about not being allowed to intervene, she has not been negligent as she fetched another member of staff.

Having said all this, the best way to clear up confusion and make all staff feel confident intervening is for all staff to receive certificated training. As it stands, this is not compulsory.

fightworry Mon 01-Apr-13 16:39:00

Couthy -It was a days detention for Boy A. I agree with you about the unfairness of it all.
No other member of staff was in the room. Sometimes staff cover wet play but often it's Year 8 prefects supervising.

tethersend Mon 01-Apr-13 16:41:04

And when removing one child, it should always be the most aggressive who is taken away.

fightworry Mon 01-Apr-13 16:46:57

Sorry - days exclusion not detention blush.

partystress Mon 01-Apr-13 17:31:44

Feeling a bit shock and sad that I have learned more from this thread than I did from PGCE and subsequent 3 years working in a school. However, am still left thinking that if your HT has given you a message that she won't back you in the event of things going pear-shaped, all the DfE guidance in the world is not going to make you feel confident about using 'reasonable force'.

iamsmokingafag Mon 01-Apr-13 17:38:37

is it legal to leave a class of y7/8 pupils unsupervised?

kilmuir Mon 01-Apr-13 17:44:09

Poor child A. I would not be impressed if he was my child.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 17:44:33

Why was the boy with ASD left with a TA who did not remove him from the situation or prevent the bullying taking place? This child was not being given enough support for this to have happened in the first place.

If this bit has a statement that gives him the support of a TA even at break times, then that TA should be trained in ALL the techniques needed to support that boy, including safe restraint techniques.

And if she is paid to support this boy, she should NOT have left him. She should have sent a prefect out, or another class member, or she should have been able to he on radio contact to call the SMT.

This is NOT supporting Boy A properly.

iamsmokingafag Mon 01-Apr-13 17:45:10

nor me
it's a disgraceful outcome

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 17:48:46

As Kilmuir says, if Boy A was one of my DC's I would be VERY unhappy. In my case, a letter to the Governors would be written, AND I would be calling a meeting with learning support asking them to quantify on paper exactly what they were going to do to support my DC with ASD to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

But that's me, as a Mother to three DC's on the Autistic Spectrum...

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 17:58:29

I feel that the correct thing to have done was to have prevented this situation from even occurring.

Very easy to do.

Boy A entered one wet play room, and had the foresight to remove himself from that room to prevent anything happening.

Went into room two, and Boy B who had been bullying him earlier in the day was in there.

So this was only ever going to end badly for Boy A, as nobody was providing HIM with an environment to be safe from bullying.

So, he had a choice of room one and get bullied or room two and get bullied.

Yet HE is the one that ends up with the harsher punishment?!

Would it not have been easier to send Boy B into room one, leaving room two SAFE for Boy A, as soon as Boy B started to bully Boy A verbally?

Is there not a zero tolerance policy against bullying at this school? Or is that only to protect DC's that don't have disabilities? Are they fair game?

And if there IS a zero tolerance policy of bullying in all its forms at this school, then why wasn't Boy B removed from the room as soon as he started to verbally bully Boy A?

It all points to a culture that it's ok to say what you want to those with disabilities, safe in the knowledge that if they react to the provocation, the person with the disability will be treated more harshly.

It seems to me like there is an issue with properly supporting those with additional needs effectively at this school...

fightworry Mon 01-Apr-13 18:20:43

Sorry, don't mean to drip feed but interested to receive views on this. The school had already admitted to the LA, prior to the exclusion, that they could not meet his needs. They had been looking at other schools in the area that might take the child but had not discussed this with the parents.
A statement review meeting was being held the following week and a new school identified. A few weeks later,following the review, whilst a new school was in the process of being named, the school then permanently excluded Child A following another incident in which staff handling was poor and specialist guidance not followed.
The child was not asked for his version of events or his written statement looked at before the decision was made. The parents are not happy and considering taking legal advice. It appears that the behaviour was due to his disability but this then escalated due to extreme anxiety following their failure to meet his needs.

tethersend Mon 01-Apr-13 18:46:51

Whilst you could argue that the TA had not had sufficient training in order to diffuse the situation and/or keep the children safe, she acted within the law, and would not be found negligent.

In some cases, one adult intervening is insufficient and could result in serious injury for all involved parties. Whilst some schools are prudent and have systems for raising the alarm, some don't, and leaving the room to fetch help in such circumstances would likely be seen as reasonable, proportionate and necessary.

Now that a risk has been identified, I would certainly want to see systems put in place to prevent potential injury to staff or students.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 19:29:04

This has been done to get the child out of the school. Which should be done with the parents input and choices. This child was DELIBERATELY inadequately supported, for the reason that the school WANTED him out. His TA is costing too much on the budget, and Boy A is not fitting the 'image' of the school that they wish to present.

This is becoming an incredibly common scenario - leave a DC with SN's inadequately supported until an incident occurs, then use this as a catalyst for excluding a child they had already decided (behind closed doors in letters to the LA without involving the parents) that they no longer wish to have at their school.

Becoming all too depressingly common.

I bet this is an Academy.

<<Depressing as my DD's school became an Academy in September, and my DS's Primary becomes an Academy as of tomorrow>>

And I hope the parents DO fight this all the way. And I hope they are ON MN, and have found the knowledgable people on MNSN.

Very depressed reading this.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 19:40:07

Why should this DC be denied a MS education (NOT in a PRU...) simply because supporting him adequately costs more?

Why isn't the boy who goaded him into reacting this way being excluded for bullying?

Put simply, because the bully is cheaper to accommodate.

So, bullying is fine, but having a disability that requires additional support that costs money is not?

That's the message parents of DC's with disabilities like Autism get from scenarios like this.

The reason that Boy A wasn't either taken into a classroom, or given a 'safe' space in classroom two by sending boy B into room one seems almost deliberate to provoke a reaction that the school could exclude him for, on the basis that they already wanted him gone.

The school shouldn't be writing to the LA to say 'We can't meet his needs" as much as to say "We can't meet his needs under his current statement, we needs more money in order to effectively and adequately support this child", and calling a Statement review meeting.

Otherwise it makes a mockery of 'inclusion'.

How is it inclusive to be writing to the LA behind the parent's backs to say they 'can't' support him?

How is it inclusive to not provide this child with a SAFE space where he is safe from bullying during wet play?

How is it inclusive to not treat the bullying of a child with disabilities with anything less than zero tolerance?

How is it inclusive to be looking for a reason to exclude a child with disabilities because you don't wish to fund the first £6,000 a year of their statemented provision?

How is any if this situation inclusive?


tethersend Mon 01-Apr-13 19:54:34

"Why isn't the boy who goaded him into reacting this way being excluded for bullying?

Put simply, because the bully is cheaper to accommodate."

Perhaps- I wouldn't put it past this school in particular- but parents do not have the right to know of other children's circumstances, or why they have received such a seemingly unfair consequence. If the child is looked after or a Child In Need for example, the school are legally obliged to do everything they can to avoid exclusion (as they also are for statemented children...), and to refer to another child's punishment weakens the parents' case against the school- a case which seems to be a very strong one.

fightworry Mon 01-Apr-13 20:00:01

Not an academy couthy but a 'very inclusive school' held in high regard apparently sad. HT had obviously too high standards on behaviour - had said once before in assembly that if anyone wore their tie too short he would 'find them another school'.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 20:12:55

If the fact that this hold has a statement didn't stop the school from excluding him for fighting, why would anything else stop the school from excluding Boy B for fighting?

It's UNFAIR. And it's the unfairness that parents of DC's feel most keenly. They aren't going to give two shiny shits that the child that bullied their son into reacting like this, thus causing him to be excluded, is in FC or whatever. And why the hell should they?

The school's behaviour rules should apply equally, with reasonable adjustments made for issues caused by a disability.

Having been a LAC myself, it certainly wouldn't have, and shouldn't have, given me a way out of behaving acceptably. It is NO excuse for bullying another child, and this should be treated EXACTLY as harshly as the DC with ASD is being treated - because otherwise it is saying that Boy B has more rights to be educated in a MS environment than Boy A does.

Which is LEGALLY untrue.

I certainly didn't give two shiny shits when a LAC was goading my DD into reacting, and I told the school in no uncertain terms that if they didn't treat this as bullying, and deal with it appropriately, I would use EVERY avenue open to me to ensure that they did.

It cannot be a behaviour policy that has MORE draconian policies and punishments for a child with a disability, or that is a clear cut case for disability discrimination.

While the PARENTS of Boy A will not be party to Boy B's life story, or even what punishment he received (directly, they WILL find out the disparity through texting / social media / friends / gossip, believe me), but the LA WILL BE.

And if it goes to court as a disability discrimination case, the LA can be forced to disclose what punishment the instigator of this incident was given for bullying and goading.

And if there IS a disparity, which there obviously is, then it is clear that Boy A has been discriminated against on the basis of his disability.

God, my heart is breaking for Boy A's parents.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 20:14:41

That was meant to read : it's the unfairness that parents of DC's with disabilities that are treated this way that they feel most keenly.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 20:20:26

Tethers - do you think this is the RIGHT thing to do, for Boy A?

Be truthful.

Do you think it is FAIR of the school to treat Boy A more harshly than Boy B despite Boy B being the obvious instigator?

If so, it paints a sorry picture of 'inclusion' in our MS Secondary schools.

If you think that being in FC is a reason that should allow you not to receive an equal punishment for fighting, or allows you to bully a child with disabilities with no removal from class and an 'exemption' from zero tolerance of bullying, then personally, I feel you are wrong.

I would never have expected, as a LAC, (which I was on and off from the age of 6mo to 16yo), to have behaved any differently to what was expected of other DC's in my school, or to have received lighter punishments when I did break rules.

And yes, I did have just about as shitty a childhood as you can imagine - possibly more so.

It STILL would never have been an excuse for anything less than the behaviour expected of any other DC at my schools.

amistillsexy Mon 01-Apr-13 20:28:06


This is what keeps me awake at night worrying.

My son will be Boy A. He's only in Y4 now, but I'm already in bits about this. I just know the secondary schools round here will not want to accommdate him, and that this will be a regular occurrance throughout his teenage years.

I want to cry now.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 20:32:46

EVERY local Secondary is now an Academy.

And my DS's Primary is the first to swap.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 20:33:22

My DS2 will be Boy A - he hasn't lashed out back yet, but it's only a matter of time.

tethersend Mon 01-Apr-13 20:34:30

"If the fact that this hold has a statement didn't stop the school from excluding him for fighting, why would anything else stop the school from excluding Boy B for fighting?"

Couthy, there is now specific legislation covering looked after children and exclusions. This requires schools to go above and beyond what they would normally do for any other child.

This does not mean that a LAC who is bullying another child will be let off scot free, but that the consequences of their actions must be part of a holistic approach to overcome the huge disadvantages they face.

Schools are not obliged to reveal the home circumstances of another child to parents- in fact they would be breaking confidentiality laws by doing so.

I don't want this to become a statemented vs. LAC debate- many LAC have statements after all- but I think the school have acted utterly appallingly without the need to even refer to the punishment the other boy received, as to do so runs the risk of child A's parents being painted as out for revenge, when in fact they are, or should be, challenging the school for ignoring statutory guidelines and not fulfilling its legal responsibility to educate their child.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 20:34:47

He's currently in Y4 too.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 20:35:28

Fight worry - shouldn't that be 'inclusion if they don't cost us extra money'...

tethersend Mon 01-Apr-13 20:41:18

"Do you think it is FAIR of the school to treat Boy A more harshly than Boy B despite Boy B being the obvious instigator?"

Without knowing the circumstances of each child, I cannot possibly answer that.

"would never have expected, as a LAC, (which I was on and off from the age of 6mo to 16yo), to have behaved any differently to what was expected of other DC's in my school, or to have received lighter punishments when I did break rules."

I think, after years and years of LAC having the worst educational outcomes and being at a higher risk of exclusion than any other cohort, it is right and proper that legislation was brought in to combat this. I understand what you are saying, but each child in care is different, and the evidence points overwhelmingly to there being a need for additional support, hence the legislation. I don't think having different expectations is in itself a bad thing- the expectations need to reflect the child.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 20:49:58

So effectively now, LAC are given a green light to bully other children, knowing that their punishment will not be as harsh as other DC's in the school, and also knowing that should their victim retaliate, their victim will be punished more severely than they will be.

Good god.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 20:52:35

In which case, that should have been the same for Boy A with ASD, thus proving the point that this school are not treating Boy A fairly.

And sorry, but it's NOT right to treat a child with ASD HARSHER than a child bullying them. For ANY REASON.

fightworry Mon 01-Apr-13 20:53:46

Fair comment Tethers. Fairness is the key. I think the main point is that Boy A was excluded apparently for behaviours relating to his disability. The fact that the staff knew that the goading had occurred but didn't take steps to minimise the later risk is pretty poor imo. Also an untrained TA should not have been supporting a child in such a state of high anxiety that issues were likely to happen.

tethersend Mon 01-Apr-13 20:54:05

No. In the same way that statemented children aren't 'given a green light to bully other children', despite there also being legislation to protect them from unnecessary exclusion.

Unless that also makes you angry?

tethersend Mon 01-Apr-13 20:54:27

That was to Couthy.

tethersend Mon 01-Apr-13 20:56:21

Agree with all those points, fightworry.

Which makes a serious enough case without needing to refer to child B's punishment at all.

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 01-Apr-13 21:00:13

One of the infuriating things in the early days of DS being in MS secondary was that whenever there was a physical altercation, I could trace the fuse every time, and I'd given the school a list of triggers and situations.
They were fantastic after the couple of terms, because all the teachers saw it as their job to be proactive. So a situation would begin to develop and they would intervene before it became a fight.
He did have a couple of exclusions, and several internal exclusions, but after the first one, they were very clear on the grounds and reasons for their actions, and had his best interests at heart, alongside other students.
In this case, I think action should have been taken a lot earlier to prevent the escalation. TA sounds clueless, and that simply isn't good enough.

Welovegrapes Mon 01-Apr-13 21:05:51

I am so sad for both boy A and B. but why was boy A treated so much more harshly sadsad

Really shocked! And I am an ex primary school LAC and SN governor btw.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Mon 01-Apr-13 21:05:52

I agree with flight risk, in that it is pretty poor behaviour of the school to leave Boy A in the situation where this was likely to happen.

I also feel it was pretty poor of the school to leave Boy A with an inadequately trained TA.

I also feel it was pretty poor of the school to leave Boy B to be in EITHER of the wet play rooms after he had been teasing and goading (read bullying...) Boy A in a lesson.

It should have been dealt with at that point by Boy B being put in isolation over break time as it was wet break.

And another incident of bullying by Boy B towards Boy A should be dealt with by after school detention.

And any further incident should be an automatic exclusion.

Christ, ONE incident from Boy A has resulted in exclusion, why the difference? Is Boy B the football star player, or the Mathletics champion, or something?!

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 01-Apr-13 21:08:13

Do you think that the TA judged the situation as horseplay?
Normal, robust joshing between chaps?
And then panicked when the situation exploded?

fightworry Mon 01-Apr-13 21:13:51

She hadn't seen what started the fight and left straight away to get help. Doesn't appear that she was told of the earlier difficulties between the 2 boys so she had been treated unfairly in a way too I suppose.

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 01-Apr-13 21:15:10

So, did Boy A not have a permission to leave the room card, a safe place to go to when he felt overloaded?

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 01-Apr-13 21:19:02

Sorry, but I'd be in there with my big file and copies of policies and a written record of all the accommodations the school should have agreed on and put in place to meet his needs. (Linked to targets and IEP, or statement)
I'd be checking in detail what they had and hadn't done, and what they intended to do to prevent a recurrence. Y7 or Y8? They've had enough time to create and implement effective protocols.

fightworry Mon 01-Apr-13 21:21:20

There was no safe place available for him to go - school were aware of this. The 'escape' card was stuck to the front of a book that he didn't have with him at break.
I guess when he was in that state of anxiety he would not necessarily have thought of getting away. He had asked the other boy to leave him alone but was told 'make me' which is why he reacted as he did.

tethersend Mon 01-Apr-13 21:24:37

Couthy, I really don't think it would be helpful to child A's parents' case to assert that there were absolute consequences which should have happened to child B.

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 01-Apr-13 21:24:59

Not good enough, definite school failure and a need to work with the child and the parent.
Card shouldn't be stuck on anything, it needs to be in a pocket so that it is always available. Not having a place to withdraw to is also not good, how can they not be able to provide him with a chair or a corner?
DS was in a MS secondary with over 1500 pupils and they managed extremely well.
Why is it so difficult for other schools to do the same?

TheNebulousBoojum Mon 01-Apr-13 21:26:45

Only way child B should come into this is to ask school what strategies they are going to use to prevent bear-baiting and personal attacks on child A by students for their own entertainment.

fightworry Mon 01-Apr-13 21:43:31

Neb the school permanently excluded Boy A shortly afterwards.
The parents had previously pointed out that a lot of incidents seen were as a result of other children 'winding him up' and that these needed to be addressed sad.

bigTillyMint Tue 02-Apr-13 03:11:39

What a sad story for boy A. The school is clearly in the wrong and did not make reasonable adjustments for himsad - it was boy B on this occasion, but could have been others involved leading to permanent exclusion.

Out of interest, did it get recorded as a PE or did he get shipped out quickly to a PRU or SS (as our LA do to avoid PEs)?

fightworry Tue 02-Apr-13 05:59:09

Bit complicated Tilly. It was recorded as an PE. He couldn't go to the PRU as the school had sent him there for a while previously and it was agreed that it was the wrong environment.

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 02-Apr-13 07:36:48

So where is Boy A now, is he being taken care of, has he got a better placement that a school that wasn't prepared to offer the basics needed for him to cope?
Ideally, as a parent, I'd be complaining to the LA Inclusion team and the governors of the school in order for them to ask searching questions of the school and ensure that they take responsibility for the failure.
But my first priority would be making sure that my DS was in the best possible place, physically and emotionally, to thrive. An indifferent and badly-organised school looking for quick solutions would not be it.
What a sad, avoidable mess.

sashh Tue 02-Apr-13 09:48:17


That's exactly what I was thinking.

Actually what I was thinking is that if boy B was bullying boy A because of the colour of his skin then this would have been stopped.

Winding up an ASD child is sheer discrimination and bullying all in one.

If I was boy A's parents I'd be calling the police to report a hate crime.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Tue 02-Apr-13 13:31:58

Yep, I would be too, Sassh

float62 Tue 02-Apr-13 17:17:20

Oh god, another ASD child without an education. The third ASD child recently permanently excluded that is being written about on MN in the past couple of days alone. Completely agree with couthy on her points. I think that we need more SSs and AS units and schools are going to have to admit in the first place that they can't manage these children appropriately rather than going through the motions of inclusion before they spit the child out, blaming the child and causing so much long-term emotional damage.

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