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Treatment of child by pastoral team- am I overreacting?

2 replies

boriselbow · 26/09/2020 12:56

Just want to get a few objective views on whether I am over-reacting, and if not what to do next.

In short, my child has just started secondary school and until Friday was very excited to go, talking lots about new friends etc. Just after I collected him on Friday I received a call from the pastoral manager to tell me that the parents of another child had complained that on Thursday he had hurt another child and said some very disturbing things to her. The jist of the conversation with him was that although no teachers saw or heard anything several other pupils had, and that they had spoken to my child about why this is not acceptable etc (suggesting that he said things without realising the impact).
When DS got home he was very upset and told me that he had been spoken to in the morning together with the accuser (who was one of his new friends) and 3 of her friends. Obviously the friends all backed up the accuser's story. DS asked if he could bring in a friends that he had been with when the incidents are supposed to have happened but he was told no. Apparently the pastoral manager shouted DS down when he tried to out forward his side of the story and basically told him that he must say he did it. He was very upset, to the extent that he asked to go home and was told by the head (who has been told the situation by the pastoral manager) that he could stay out of class for longer.
The things that DS is accused of saying are not things that I have every heard him talk about but are (word for word) things that another child at the school who has additional emotional and behavioural needs (and who was with some of those involved in primary school) has said quite often in the past.
DS feels betrayed by his friends and that he has not been listened to by the adult dealing with this. He is also upset that he will be labelled as a liar and someone who says nasty things.
I think it is worth noting that the accuser is new to the school and the area and has just started becoming friends with this group (including DS) so there may be some friendship dynamics at play. I am unhappy that the pastoral manager has not asked for comments from any of the other people around when the incidents are alleged to have taken place. I am also surprised that, if the issue was so distressing for all of the children involved they stayed in school all day Thursday without mentioning it to anyone. Also, if the school felt that this was sufficiently serious to contact me why did they leave DS upset for most of the day, asking to go home, and not contact me?
I know that schools are dealing with a lot at the moment and I would usually just trust them to sort things out sensibly but at the moment I feel that they have just taken the word of a group of friends against another child without question. This worries me not only for how he will be in school next week but also whether, since they have clearly got a lot of attention etc this time, these children might accuse him of other things.
What would you do?

OP posts:
Purpledaisychain · 26/09/2020 13:22

The pastoral manager should have heard his side of the story. That is what they are there to do. Listen and act accordingly. It sounds like they have immediately believed the first thing that they heard, if what your son is saying is the truth. Pastoral managers need to be approachable, so that all kids know that they can go to them with problems and be listened too. Your son may feel disinclined to do this now which isn't good. I'd go to speak with them, tell them that your son doesn't feel like he has been listened too. But bear in mind that your son might not have given you an accurate version of events. And then give her your son's side of the story and see what they do.

boriselbow · 26/09/2020 14:09

Thanks @Purpledaisychain - I would usually be willing to concede that my DS could be in the wrong but this specific thing would be completely out of character and does not tie in with the fact that the day that this had allegedly taken place he was saying what nice new friends he'd made. As you say, there is no way he would seek help form the pastoral manager now. It also seems off to me that the accuser was invited to bring her friends along to back up her story but he was specifically denied the chance to do the same. To me it sounds like the pastoral manager has been confronted by shouty parents and the easiest answer is to blame DS, tell them the child has been punished, and leave it at that.

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