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Would you think this was a bit harsh of the teacher?

(20 Posts)
hellymelly Mon 24-Sep-12 12:56:38

backgroud: My dd is 7, she is a rather anxious child and had to have some time out of school (diagnosed with school phobia at the time), but has been in her new school for a year, and greatly helped by last year's kind and gentle teacher, has settled in well in her class, is enjoying the work and has nice friends in the class. She is a bright child who likes to do well and is well behaved in class and kind to other children.
My Dad died a week ago, and I am heartbroken. Dd is really upset and I think rather shocked (he had a degenerative disorder so had been frail for a long time ). She was too upset to go into school for a day but then I sent her in as I thought the distraction would be good, but on the second day back she got into trouble in school. She had a pencil in her hand and wrote a word onto a table (not a rude word or anything!). Dd says she has no idea why she did this, that she was just absent mindedly fiddling, which is typical of her if she is very stressed or upset. Anyway, the teacher told her off, which I can understand, but then stopped her from going out to play at break, instead she had to sit on the "naughty chair" outside the head's office. DD didn't tell us any of this, her teacher told DH the next day that she had done it, and when we mentioned it to DD she was hysterical, really really upset, she felt silly for the writing and humiliated by the chair, and I felt terrible for even sending her into school that day.
DH has spoken to her teacher, explained that she wasn't being naughty as such, but simply wasn't thinking about what she was doing, and that although we accept her being told off we felt the rest was a bit harsh given that she had just lost her Grandfather. TBh I was surprised, as she is so good normally, that the teacher didn't sit her down and ask if she was ok, rather than punishing her. Teacher has said that the head had ok-ed the punishment and that if she does something similar then it will happen again, but that "she won't, because she will have learned her lesson now".
I am really cross, i would be cross if it was another child in the class, not just because it is DD, but I am bereft of my Dad and very sad, trying to organise a funeral, so my emotions are high generally. do you think the teacher should have been a bit more sensitive?

musttidyupmusttidyup Mon 24-Sep-12 13:02:39

Probably. I can see both sides - she did something naughty (all be it not with intent) and the school needed to address it. However, the teacher was probably a bit harsh given the circumstances and should have behaved more thoughtfully. As a parent I would have indeed felt as you do, and you are understandably very upset about it.
Perhaps with hindsight her teacher realises she was harsh (although may not admit it).
Perhaps write a note to the head explaining how it has made you feel then draw a line under it.
I'm sorry for your loss OP. I hope you find some peace. X

adeucalione Mon 24-Sep-12 13:09:52

I'm so sorry about your dad OP, but I don't think that this was a particularly harsh punishment and would not personally choose to take it any further.

The loss of her grandfather is certainly an explanation for out-of-character behaviour but isn't an excuse to avoid the usual class punishment for defacing property imo.

hellymelly Mon 24-Sep-12 13:11:41

I don't mind her being told off for it, I understand that the class needs to see that everyone is treated fairly, but I think a recently bereaved child with no "previous" should be nurtured rather than punished. I am worried that she maybe shouldn't even be in school until after the funeral, as I don't want her to be more upset.

Elibean Mon 24-Sep-12 13:14:46

OP, I think I'd be upset too. You know your dd, and the teacher presumably doesn't yet - but could have responded more sensitively, especially given that she must have known your dd was off the day before because of a bereavement.

tbh I think being told off, at that age and this stage in the school year, would have been plenty - the 'naughty chair' seems totally OTT to me, even without a bereavement. It wouldn't happen at my dds' school, and someone would have had a chat to get to the bottom of it. But I suppose some schools, some teachers, yes, they have a 'protocol'....still, not a lot of child psychology needed in this situation, I'd think hmm

If the Head is someone approachable, I would have a quiet word - but more importantly, I would talk to my dd and let her know I'm on her side and think it was a bit OTT, and that although a silly thing to do not deliberately naughty.

Then focus on what really matters, for both of you. I'm sorry for your loss, and hope all goes smoothly for you over the next few weeks...

sittinginthesun Mon 24-Sep-12 13:17:31

Hi Helly

I also think this is a tricky one.

On the one hand, you would hope that the school will support your DD, and be concerned for her welfare.

On the other, your DD must understand that there are certain rules which she must not break, no matter how upset she is about something.

I actually think the most important thing is that this does not blow up out of proportion. It was one incident, which was dealt with. I think, in your position, I would try and make your daughter see that this is over, and that it was not personal to her.

I think I would try and ensure that the lines of communication are there with the school. Not sure how this would work in your school, but my dcs' school would be very open to me speaking to the teacher regularly if I had concerns.

Wishing you well. I know what a crap time it is for you. x

Frikadellen Mon 24-Sep-12 13:28:50

Was the teacher aware of granddads passing? If so then yes i think it was likely to harsh. Personally I would feel for a 1st time offense the telling of would have been enough.

However if this is the usual punishment for it then if the school was unaware of granddad then I think you have to let it go.

However if school was aware then I actually think they were very unfair.

I can still clearly recall dd1 going to school the day after my fil had passed away. The teacher telling the class what had happened and dd1 told me " I cried mummy but it was ok because Mrs M (head teacher) came and took me into her office and gave me a cuddle and a sticker and then I went back into the class"

This head teacher is not what you would consider a cuddly person but they realised this was a greatly stressful time for dd1 (who had adored her granddad) so took the time out to deal with it. I would expect a well caring primary school to do so.

However if you had not told them about it, and this is their usual way to deal with things. Then you likely need to let it go and just give your dd a cuddle extra

hellymelly Mon 24-Sep-12 13:34:56

Sadly the school is terrible about parent teacher communications.They make it very uncomfortable for parents to talk to the staff. The head is very unsympathetic generally and was horrendously unhelpful when dd started back and needed some additional help to get over her fear of school. Around a quarter of the other parents wrote a letter of complaint to the governers at the end of last term, and some of the more experienced staff members have left. DDs teacher should have been more briefed about dd anyway, as she is down as needing extra support, (although she doesn't really need any now as she has settled well, we still worry that she might at some point have a slip back). I hate the "naughty " chair thing too, but its very much carrot or stick in the school. I know Rules are rules and all that, but I hate to think of any child, newly bereaved, sitting on a naughty chair with everyone seeing them, it seems cruel and thoughtless to me.

hellymelly Mon 24-Sep-12 13:37:16

Frikadellen, we had told the school and warned them she was likely to be upset, if they hadn't known I wouldn't be as annoyed about it. I think that as you say, a caring primary should be there to be considerate of a child's emotional welfare. They are in loco parentis after all.

hellymelly Mon 24-Sep-12 13:39:26

oh and I appreciate the comment (from sitting) about not blowing it up more. I won't take it any further, the teacher was so adamant she had followed the rules and done the right thing, that there would be no point anyway.

sittinginthesun Mon 24-Sep-12 14:16:20

With the history of the school, Helly, I would actually be more concerned. Is the Head a very defensive person? Did the parents get anywhere with the Governors?

Still wouldn't take it further, but would keep a very close eye, and a diary of any problems. You shouldn't feel worried about approaching the school if you have concerns. sad

hellymelly Mon 24-Sep-12 14:28:40

We are really concerned about the school generally, and have been ever since we had problems with the head when DD started.We were lucky as the ed-psych who had helped dd in her old school went to a lot of trouble to help her re-settle , helping us deal with all the awful meetings with the head, and without her I think we would be back home-edding. Its very tricky as Dd has made friends and is pretty settled, although dd2 is less happy (her teacher is one of the ones who left). We really don't want to move dd again, and our options would then be a school half an hour away as Dd won't go back to the school where she was so unhappy ( which is a shame, as they have a brilliant head who was really supportive and is strict but fundamentally kind) . We didn't know about the letter of complaint until after it had gone in, but as the Head has a rellie on the board of Governers I think that nothing was really addressed. The head's response to the problems was less than adequate. A lot of parents have concerns, especially as now there are less experienced teachers in the school. (dd2's teacher is newly qualified, with a young ta, in class that will be 40 at Easter.) Its a small rural community so loyalties are divided and tested, some parents work at the school, its all very complex but doesn't seem great.
Sorry for the rant ! Just don't want to have a little girl who is scared of going into school again, she really cried going in this morning when before Dad dying she was doing well.

admission Mon 24-Sep-12 16:31:30

I think for your daughter's sake (and probably your own) you need to move on. Your daughter will have learnt a very harsh lesson, as I agree the school did not handle it well, but the sooner she is back at school and with her friends, the sooner it will all be forgotten about.
If you start raising the issue with the school, I just think it will cause more upset and neither you nor your daughter need that at this sad time.

hellymelly Mon 24-Sep-12 21:40:24

She is back in school, but she is less happy at drop off than before this happened, she is embarrassed (hasn't told her sister for instance) and really upset about it. My Dad isn't even in the ground yet, I would have thought that any half-decent teacher would cut a small child a bit of slack under the circs. Especially as her behaviour is always great in school, and the thing she did wasn't unkind. She wrote in pencil which wipes straight off, (she was thinking of the days of the week and which day it was and just absent mindedly wrote the day as she was thinking of it.) She wasn't deliberately trying to deface something, she was just thoughtless. She's generally slightly "somewhere else" this week. I really am shocked that a teacher would react to a very sad little girl in this way. I do feel the humiliation was a step too far and totally unnecessary with this sort of child, she really does care about being "good" in school and doing well.

BlueSkySinking Mon 24-Sep-12 23:31:53

I would talk to the head about the lack of empathy considering your DD's loss.

cansu Mon 24-Sep-12 23:37:25

I think the teacher perhaps was a bit thoughtless and should probably have been a little easier on her. She probably forgot or reacted before she had time to think about your family situation. I am not sure though that by getting cross and upset about it this will help your dd. Children pick up on their parents feelings about the school. She is also understandably picking up on your feelings of loss and the sadness in the family. I would draw a line under it and simply stop discussing it. Hopefully your dd will then settle back in.

hellymelly Tue 25-Sep-12 00:00:00

I haven't discussed it on front of her at all, other than last week when it happened to tell her that I wasn't cross that she'd been in trouble, and that I understood she was distracted and upset at the moment. I left it there as I certainly don't want to fuel any negative feelings about her teacher or the school after what we all went through to get her back into a school at all. She knows I am very upset about Dad, I don't hide that from her, but equally I am still "there" as Mummy, I'm not wallowing in grief, but we are all pretty devastated, and the way we lost him was hard and shocking (he died in an ambulance). I am not going to persue it with the school as i simply wouldn't get anywhere anyway. Dh has told the teacher we were unhappy with the level of punishment, she has defended herself and that is that. Can't say it doesn't add to my misgivings generally about the school, which I suppose is why I posted. I want to make sure it isn't grief making me more upset. But actually i know that if DD had come home and told me that the same thing had happened to a classmate I would be just as bothered by it. I don't think humiliating a child is ever very helpful, and I think in a child who has had a phobia about school due largely to a slightly similar incident (she wasn't naughty, but she was humiliated by a teacher who she was then very scared of) and who is sad and grieving, it is a really shameful thing for a teacher to do. I realise I'm probably ranting on, sorry, /i have been dealing with funeral arrangements all day and am generally upset so probably should go to bed.

sittinginthesun Tue 25-Sep-12 11:19:34

How are you today, Helly?

hellymelly Tue 25-Sep-12 12:59:46

Oh sitting, that is so kind of you, a stranger, to post that. I am ok- tying up funeral arrangements and trying to improve my cough as I have to sing tonight for a recording to play in the church, and my voice is rough due to tail end of a cold combined with grief hitting the chest. Am dreading the funeral as my Mum is not in good shape, but I have a picture here of lovely Dad playing the piano with a jolly face and that is helping me get through it.
thanks to you, and to all who have taken the time to post.

sittinginthesun Tue 25-Sep-12 13:52:27

Very UnMumsNetty hugs back to you, Helly.

You will be fine, and your DD will be fine. x

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