I've been in the same school for about six weeks now and days are generally quiet but every now and again there's an explosive event, sparked by seemingly very little. As this week is my last one in this particular school working with the nearly permanently excluded kids, I thought I'd share with you one such impromptu incident. Below is the report I had to write up on my penultimate day in the school. Obviously I have changed the student and teachers' names but everything else remains as I recorded it.
“ ? had finished working on the computer and as I logged her off she went over to the other side of the room so see ?, who'd just entered the room. When I went back over to the other side, she was sitting in the teacher's chair and refusing to move. Eventually she moved and stormed out.
I went out into the stairwell and had a chat with her and she seemed reasonably calm. She then came back into the room and aggressively demanded “pass me my flipping nails” (the fake nails ? had previously confiscated some half an hour/40 minutes ago after she started putting them on in the middle of a lesson). She repeatedly said this and ? went for “on call” (there was no walkie-talkie up here this morning as the battery had died).
While she was out of the room, ? came back in and started screaming “pass me my nails” again and “now's my home time – it maybe not yours but I'm going home now!” She pushed passed me and tried to get at the drawer, even trying to physically pull the chair I was sitting on away from the desk.
Members of the Science department (whose office is next door) came in and helped intervene. She stood at the side of my head and yelled into my ear “Give me my nails!” This then turned to “Pass me my fucking nails – if you don't get her to give them to me, I'll punch her fucking head in – I'll punch her right in the face!”
Other members of staff stood between me and her and one managed to convince her that the false nails were locked away downstairs in an office. Tables were moved and she was escorted out of the room away from me but said “fucking bitch – why don't you suck dick?” as she left. She also overturned the computer screen (thankfully undamaged) before being escorted out and causing a loud scene on the stairs.”
Immediately after this incident I heard wailing, fittingly demonic-sounding to be compared to a banshee. Three members of the senior management team had to restrain her and lead her out of the building. The police were later called on site. Prior to all this, the student in question had been working uncharacteristically hard and had had an exceptional day the day before.
This incident is the closest I have ever come to reliving my days at the crumbling West Leeds High School. Having been doing supply teaching across central London and even Essex, on and off for the past year and a half, I have never worked in a school as consistently rough as my old long-term Leeds employer. The students I have been working with for the last six weeks are all essentially in the “knacker's yard” - contrary to the name, “The Study Centre” actually seems to have been created as a place to collect evidence of bad behaviour so that the school's worst pupils will be accepted to a PRU (Pupil Referral Unit). Having someone shout in my face isn't that pleasant but at the end of the day, what is shouted is pretty laughable – the fate of some of these children isn't.