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Teaching assistant has conflict of interest?

(27 Posts)
user1494322337 Tue 09-May-17 11:48:26

Hi am new to mumsnet and any advice would be gratefully received.
My 6 year old boy began having behavioural issues at the beginning of the year, prior to this he had never been in trouble. The teacher in his class (who has since left the school) was newly qualified and so after February half term he was moved into the schools other Yr 2 class as the teacher was more experienced and it was felt that this would be best all round. Because of numbers in order for this to happen the school employed a new inexperienced Teaching Assistant. This person happened to be a family friend (who we were due to go on holiday with) and had her own son in the class. Despite initially settling in, in the middle of March my son was given a fixed term exclusion for grabbing a girl by the wrist, this incident was witnessed solely by the above TA. Since this my son has lived under almost constant observation with this TA being the one primarily responsible for doing this and making notes. After this things seemed to be going well and our boy would often come home and say he had been playing with our friend the TA's son, although we did feel that our friend was keeping her distance from us. On Friday just passed we were informed by the school that they had received a formal complaint from another parent relating to accusations of threats and intimidation against our son and would need to look into it. Then at the weekend we had a text message from our friend the TA to say that she would no longer come on holiday with us as our boys were not getting along. When we asked what the issue was so that we could get together and work through it she just maintained that her son had been very upset by something ours had said or done - we still don't know the details despite asking.
We are now concerned that this is a clear conflict of interests as she could not remain impartial if she were to witness any altercation between our 2 children yet she continues to be the TA in the class.
Should this TA be removed and placed into another class? Especially as the formal complaint may have come from her

Sparklingbrook Tue 09-May-17 11:50:26

I am amazed she was placed in a class her own son is in. That's not right at all.

Hadalifeonce Tue 09-May-17 11:53:56

I would book an appointment to see the head to get this situation resolved. They should be giving you details of the accusation against your son, not necessarily who the accusation came from.
In small schools, it isn't always possible to not have family members/friends as TAs, or teachers in the same class.

justkeepswimmingg Tue 09-May-17 12:02:17

Agree she should never have been placed in the same classroom as her DS. There's no harm in swapping her with a TA from another year group. Their contracts do not state which year group they will be assisting in (my sister is a TA), therefore she can be moved without any reasoning. I'd request a meeting with the head, and express your concerns. Obviously if your DS, and hers are not getting along great, she will side with her DS - so yes it is a conflict of interest. Such a shame you seem to have lost a friendship due to this, but I wouldn't feel sadden by it as she seems to resent your DS. Best to just make sure that the school are doing all they can to resolve this.

GreenHillsSunnySkies Tue 09-May-17 12:43:51

Obviously, it's not ideal that she is in the same classroom as her own ds because that may colour her perceptions when children fall out but I'm failing to see why she would be deliberately targeting your son especially as the wrist-grabbing incident you describe didn't involve her child. She wasn't the sole witness since presumably the child whose wrist was grabbed was also a witness. Your son's behavioural issues according to you started before she became his TA.

Also, you don't know for sure that the intimidation complaint did come from her. What is happening about that? Have you been invited in for a meeting to discuss that complaint and what incident or incidents it stemmed from or what the school intends to do about it? I agree with other posters that you need to meet with the head but I'd say that would be to get more information rather than accusing this woman of professional impropriety. Say she does get replaced and your son continues to receive complaints/exclusions etc what then? I think the issue here is what is being done by you and the school to address your son's problematic behaviour, what the root causes are and how to tackle them.

Devorak Tue 09-May-17 12:48:38

I think the fact you immediately see her as the issue and unable to remain impartial speaks volumes about your thought process here.

If you have a specific problem with her then do mention it and bring it to the SMT's notice but if you just 'have a feeling' or 'think she can't' then you'll do yourself no favours whatsoever and if you said so in my office, you'd go down in my estimation. I think the fact she refused to divulge details when telling you she didn't want to go on holiday with you sounds like she can work professionally and is.

Schools can't and don't exclude pupils without serious cause. Are you accusing the TA of lying about your sons violence towards the girl?* I assume that the girl was a witness too and the two recounts were similar.

I think you are in denial about your sons behaviour and looking to take it out on someone you have absolutely no idea has done anything wrong but suspect she may in the future. Exclusion and being moved to a different class mid-year paint a very different picture of what's going on.

Burying your head in the sand and looking for a scapegoat will do you no favours.

With regard to the holiday, think about the usual MN consensus about inviting a mean child to your child's party. It tend to be 'put your child first.' Your son has upset the other child. Whatever the reasons (and the TA, very professionally, declined to elaborate), there's no way he should have his holiday ruined.

*there's no way in hell he was excluded just for grabbing her wrist. Be honest with us and yourself.

PoptartPoptart Tue 09-May-17 12:49:46

Completely unprofessional of the school to place the TA in the same class as her own child. It's not fair on anyone, her own child included!
It would never happen in my school. When my son was in the school I work at I was always placed in another class. I wouldn't have wanted to be in the same class as my child for his sake and mine!

Mumzypopz Tue 09-May-17 12:53:23

Yes, I think the fact that she told you she could no longer go on holiday with you shows she is acting in a professional manner, it would be totally inappropriate for her to do so. I do think however, that she shouldn't be a ta in her own childs class and her going on holiday with you should have been raised at the start of her being your child's ta.

Joey7t8 Tue 09-May-17 13:03:16

Children don't get excluded for grabbing a wrist of another child. I'm another that feels that there's probably more to this story.

mumofthemonsters808 Tue 09-May-17 13:11:09

This post sounds very selective with the truth, no child would be excluded for grabbing the wrist of another child.

ShakingAndShocked Tue 09-May-17 13:17:32

Agree seems weird the TA being in her own son's class but, TBH, that's the least of your concerns. Fret not about a stupid holiday, other people's actions etc etc and maybe instead focus on WTAF is going on with your own son that is so bad he received a fixed term exclusion from school aged 6?

I was a School Governor at a large senior school with hulking teens and often sat on panels dealing with what action would be taken in response to incidents; exclusion is a last resort and a sign of pretty serious misdemeanour so don't try to kid yourself or us that a 6 year old being excluded is not a sign that something is seriously amiss.

Very specifically (unless you're being disingenuous vis DS's behaviour previously and this was not a sudden onset), when you look back to the point where you think your child's behavioural issues started is there anything you can think of that may have triggered that? As he clearly needs help and you need understanding of that and that to be your primary 'interest' - not wasting your time on whether a TA has a 'conflict of interest'.

GwenStaceyRocks Tue 09-May-17 13:19:18

tbh I think you need to shift your focus from the TA to your son. It sounds as though you're starting to reconsider if he should have been excluded simply because the TA was involved.
Arrange a meeting with the HT but stick to the facts. Namely you want more details of the accusations against your DS and discuss how you can work with the school to support him.
Then bring it to the HT's attention that the TA has distanced herself from your family and you are concerned that this may be a sign of partiality. However it could just be a sign of professionalism.
fwiw lots of small schools have pupils being taught by their own parents. It's not automatically viewed as a conflict of interest. It depends on the professionalism of all involved

user1494322337 Tue 09-May-17 18:01:28

Thanks you all for your thoughts, I can assure you we are under no illusions about the fact our son has behavioural issues and as responsible parents we are looking to do everything to address these for the benefit of all. Given the nature of some of the responses I would like to say that at no time in my original post do I accuse the TA of any impropriety (if I had believed that to be the case I would have discussed this with the school). I merely wanted to give some background surrounding the circumstances of her appointment and her being a family friend.
My original question to the group was merely whether it was correct and proper to post a TA into the same class as their son, especially when it has since come to light that there are issues between their son and mine. Professionalism aside human nature dictates that they would have a likely bias.
Finally yes my son was suspended for grabbing a girl by the wrist. It was considered to be an unprovoked and violent action which according to the HT meant they were compelled to exclude him for a fixed period. We felt at the time this was an overreaction by the school be were assured it was following guidelines

Devorak Tue 09-May-17 18:12:34

My original question to the group was merely whether it was correct and proper to post a TA into the same class as their son

I hire TA's on the assumption that they work professionally. It may not be ideal to have them in the same class as their child but I wouldn't be bumping them at this stage in the year because the parent of a difficult child was making unfounded complaints. I would continue to believe that they are working appropriately and professionally until I learn otherwise.

You still don't seem to be taking your son's "violent and unprovoked" action seriously. I feel sorry for him. At least the school are doing what they can.

zeeboo Tue 09-May-17 18:18:08

If what you are saying is true I can't believe your question to Mumsnet was about the TA and not "Can the school really exclude a child just for grabbing a child's wrist"
That's if you are telling us the full story of course.

VintagePerfumista Tue 09-May-17 18:18:51

I think you may have your priorities skewed here.

I wouldn't want a TA in my classroom if their own kid was there, but your problem lies closer to home. Your child has been moved from one class because of his behavioural issues and now suspended from another. And the suspension was nothing to do with the TA.

You need to get yourself a meeting with the HT and work out how things can be managed for your son, and for the other children in his class.

runloganrun101 Tue 09-May-17 18:24:13

I agree with @Devorak. Nobody's going to take you seriously until you take your son's bullying seriously. Maybe contact the headteacher to request a fresh start for your son in another class; at the very least if the problem continues you'll have undeniable evidence that your son's behaviour needs to be managed.

Broccolirevolution Tue 09-May-17 18:26:26

user one of two things is happening. Either the school has been entirely unfair to your child and is behaving in a very unusual manner e.g. exclusion for such a small thing. OR your DS has a pattern of behaviour that is so alarming that people are happy to risk friendships and cancel holidays to keep their kids away.

Please get an appointment with the head, not to discuss the TA but to discuss how you can help your DS. You obviously care, just focusing on the wrong things.

StrawberryMouse Tue 09-May-17 18:29:30

This sounds like it has impacted very awkwardly on everyone and I really wouldn't want a family friend professionally involved with my family in this way, especially considering your son is having problems.

TheRealPooTroll Tue 09-May-17 18:31:26

I'm going to go against the grain and say I think it is a really bad idea to have a mother working as a TA in the same class as their son. I know of schools that don't even let parent volunteers work in their own child's class and they aren't involved in discipline etc.
It sounds as though your friend has been doing some 1-1 work with your child and at the same time he is not getting along with her child. I would challenge any mother to remain impartial in this circumstance when their child is upset.
Work with the school and any outside agencies to address your sons behaviour but I think you are well within your rights to question the wisdom of this particular ta working so closely with your child.

Trifleorbust Tue 09-May-17 18:41:09

How do you think this 'bias' has affected your DS? Some people are capable of being objective even where the potential for bias exists.

GreenHillsSunnySkies Tue 09-May-17 18:46:49

My original question to the group was merely whether it was correct and proper to post a TA into the same class as their son, especially when it has since come to light that there are issues between their son and mine. Professionalism aside human nature dictates that they would have a likely bias.

And you've had answers to that question to the effect that it is not ideal but not always avoidable. To me the time to have questioned that issue would have been when she was first appointed after your son was moved to the new class, seems a little self-serving and hypocritical to do so only after the incident where the TA witnessed your son's attack on another child and now that another issue has arisen involving your son and which may or may not involve her son.

Also, you don't get to cherry pick which parts of your post other posters can choose to address, if you put it out there you're going to get comments on it. Frankly, I agree with a pp that the whole TA conflict of interests should be far less of a concern to you than the circumstance that in span of less than 3 months your 6 year old gets moved from one class for behavioural issues, excluded for attacking a classmate and is now facing complaints of intimidating and threatening another classmate.
Maybe you should take off the blinkers - is it really reasonable to think everyone else is wrong/overreacting/exaggerating/bearing false witness/biased against your child? Why would that be?

Helloitsme88 Tue 09-May-17 19:15:16

Sorry but a TA was appointed as a 1:1 with your son? Inexperienced you say? Or a TA for the whole class. What's her qualifications? Why would they place her in the same class as her own son unless your son has an IEP and gets 1:1 support. This doesn't sound right at all.

Helloitsme88 Tue 09-May-17 19:15:47

Also I'm surprised a 6 year old gets excluded for wrist grabbing. Unless there's more to the story here

Maryhadalittlelambstew Tue 09-May-17 19:25:17

I think the biased TA is the least of your worries, the whole school sounds biased if they really did exclude your son just for grabbing another childs wrist.

The TA shouldn't be working in her own sons class but unless you're honest with us we can't really help.

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