Her facial expression oozes vulnerability. She looks sad and helpless. In a soft voice she beckons me into an empty classroom. ‘Can I speak to you for a minute?’
‘Of course,’ I reply.
‘I’ve just had a very strange experience with two year 7 kids,’ she says, gently manoeuvring a chair away from the table before sitting down. Her movements are both elegant and seamless. I, in contrast, pull, bang and crash before dropping my substantial frame on to the chair opposite.
An unconvincing smile attempts to hide her anguish. ‘I was in the middle of a poetry lesson with 7S when Joe Hughes ushered me over.’ I expel a loud sigh. I have the unique pleasure of teaching Joe – or, in the latest educational jargon, the pleasure of facilitating his learning. He is indeed a ‘facilitator’s’ nightmare: devious, cunning and, most frustratingly, untouchable. He has been diagnosed with ADHD which pretty much gives him carte blanche to do whatever he likes. He is rarely challenged, even though he displays the most outrageous behaviours. He has, after all, for all intents and purposes, the nuclear excuse.
She continues. ‘He pointed at Lewis, who was sitting next to him, and said that he was playing with his nipple. Lewis’s hand was inside his shirt. Joe then said, “I think he wants to have a w***, miss”. As he did so he shook his hand, gesturing the motion – “you know, one of them,” he said.’
‘Didn’t you throw him out?’ I ask, struggling to suspend my disbelief.
‘No. I just explained that he shouldn’t be using language like that and continued the lesson.’ This is one of the biggest problems in the teaching profession. If a student behaves badly, it is automatically assumed that it must be the teacher’s fault. As a consequence, instead of throwing the student out, an act that would, she believes, highlight her perceived inadequacies, my colleague, brainwashed and overcome by guilt, allows him to remain in class and his lewd, wretched behaviour goes unchallenged.
‘It’s not a crime to ask a particularly disruptive student to leave your classroom,’ I say.
‘I know. I know.’ Her acknowledgement is half-hearted. Sadly, she has been indoctrinated into believing that it is her fault. She looks a broken woman.
‘Anyway,’ she continues, ‘about 15 minutes later Joe called me over again. This time he said, “Lewis’s been talking about sticking his w**** inside a woman’s p****, miss. You know, wiggling it round to make her c**”.’ She waits for a response. I am, for once, utterly speechless.
After a long delay I encourage her to inform the Senior Leadership Team - even though, deep down, I know it’s a waste of time. They’ll probably blame her. Apparently, according to a recent CPD entitled, 'Is poor behaviour my fault?', poor behaviour is, as the title indicates, entirely the fault of the teacher. God help us!