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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'.

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