Our school motto is 'no excuses'. Could this be a sign of the head teacher's devilish sense of humour or a demonstration of her crass stupidity?
Surely a more accurate motto would be 'look for excuses but, if you can't find any, make some up, or, failing that, and as a last, desperate resort, falsely accuse your teacher of misconduct'. I know: a bit wordy, but you get my point.
In a desperate bid to find excuses for bad behaviour, our head is actively encouraging our pupils to lie and make false allegations against their teachers.
Just last week a pupil falsely accused me of blaming her parents for her rude behaviour, even though I've never even met them. This, apparently, I did several weeks previously and was why she subsequently adorned her workbook with graffiti, put little effort into her assessment and continued to lay on the table, roll her eyes and put her feet on the chairs. In short, her recent spate of appalling behaviour is all my fault. I cruelly and unprofessionally accused her parents of bad parenting.
After receiving a 15 minute detention from me, she immediately went to one of our assistant heads and lodged a complaint. His response: to set up a restorative meeting in an effort to repair our relationship. During the meeting, she repeated the allegation. I insisted that we could not move forward and continue with a process that requires goodwill and honesty until she retracted her allegation, an allegation that besmirched my character and brought my professional conduct into question. For his part, the senior leader arbitrating refused to even question the veracity of her statement. When did this happen? Who was present? Why didn't you report it at the time? These were questions that, at the very least, would've demonstrated the seriousness of her claims. I couldn't believe his dismissive insouciance and wondered, had the boot been on the other foot, and had he been the one accused of professional misconduct, if he'd be quite so relaxed about it.
Faced with an impasse, he terminated the meeting before blaming my obstinacy for its failure. 'If left unchallenged,' I said, 'she won't realise the seriousness of her actions. She'll become emboldened and do it again. Others will follow. Soon we'll have a culture where false allegations are commonplace and teachers, scared to be on the receiving end, dare not enforce the school's rules. Is that what you want?' I asked. I have a feeling that the horse has already bolted.
The next day i was called into the head teacher's office. Her deputy sat impassively beside her. They asked if the allegation was true before insisting that, hypothetically speaking of course, if a member of staff was to blame a pupil's parents for her misbehaviour, no matter how bad, there would be no place for them at this school. 'Indeed, that's why i am taking it so seriously,' I said.
They didn't seem to want to dwell on the child's behaviour, though. It was mine that seemed to preoccupy them. They brought out what they obviously believed was a smoking gun - her workbook. In it I had written that she was 'being a bit lazy' and was 'capable of so much better'. This, apparently, according to our deputy head teacher-turned-child-psychologist, is the reason why she made an unfounded allegation. My language was too harsh. I need to be more emollient, in future. In other words, I was entirely responsible for the pupil's false, potentially career threatening allegation against me. How she made this causal link is beyond me. But in her mind she'd found the excuse she wanted. It was all my fault.
The pupil would be reinstated to my lesson forthwith, having not experienced so much as a slap on the wrist for falsely accusing me of professional misconduct, and i would henceforth bend over backwards to be more empathetic. From her point of view the accusation worked like a dream. How can I possibly discipline her now? If I try she'll just accuse me of something else.
In our head's malign, sinister efforts to find excuses for bad behaviour, she is encouraging pupils to make false allegations against their teachers before perversely blaming those very same teachers for the allegations being made against them. It is unbelievable! Apparently, according to a friend and actual psychologist, there are a significant number of mentally ill teachers being kept on suicide watch. I wonder why...It is an absolute scandal! No excuses?! Don't make me laugh!