The Joys of Middle Management

The joy of middle management is taking the flack for someone else’s actions. I had completely forgotten about the meeting with Jordan Jeffries parents I had scheduled for this morning and was happily tapping away on the computer trying to find out some extra information about the Tudors and Stuarts for a history class I had first thing this morning.

I always have my revelations when I’m in the showe. It’s a time when I plan my lessons and organise my thoughts. This morning whilst washing the soap off I realised I hadn’t even looked at the activity I was trying with my new Year Seven class. The history teacher Ms Mongoose had given me the task last week and id just filed it away thinking I would look at it later on in the week. The task was pretty simple all it involved was a load of slips of paper with names and events on them and the idea was that the kids would match them together. This sounds pretty straight forward until I realise there are a few gaps in my knowledge of British History. Despite the fact that im sure I could have made the facts and dates up, I thought I would bone up before the lesson just to plug those little gaps and sound like I knew what I was talking about. This wasn’t to be the case, as no sooner had I learnt that Henry VIII was a prominent figure during this period I had a call saying I had a set of parents waiting for me in reception.

I always never know how to start meetings however this one was easy, as soon as Mrs Jeffries had sat at the table she was off ranting - “Mr Black I feel that the school has really let my son down। He and we have been lied to regarding Jack Peach being allowed back into the school”. I sit there and have nothing to say as I sort of dipped in and out of the issue last year and was always on the peripheries of what was going on.

From stories passed on I know that Jack was excluded for violent behaviour. This stemmed from problems he had with his Obsessive-compulsive disorder and also his Autism. I recall an incident where a mobile phone went missing. Jack with his OCD developed in his mind that he had taken it and that he might as well hand himself in. I think he might have even called the police to hand him-self in. It transpired that the phone had been misplaced and not stolen in the first place. This was a reoccurring pattern, if anything happened Jack would be the first to 'own' up, creating a story in his head connecting him to the 'crime'.

The violence stemmed also from the fact that Jack developed in his head that the other boys were out to get him so he figured he would get in first. What finally tipped the scales and saw him excluded was an incident where he threw a grinding disc at another student. No serious damage was caused but that was the tipping point and he was asked to leave. Mum and dad complained that the school had let their son down and would be removing him from teh school anyway. The sad fact is there is nowhere else in the city to send kids with his sort of problems. So instead of taking him out they fought the school to take him back. The school obviously said no initially and played the old line that we didn’t have the facilities to care for Jack. This sort of came back to bite us as Mr and Mrs Peach fired back with “well according to the Disability and Discrimination Act you should have or make the facilities”. When faced with the law you either fight it knowing you are going to win or you submit and that’s basically what happened. Now it is left up to me to deal with the clean up operation and see if I can patch things up.

The venom behind Mrs Jeffries attack was a comment I made last week when Mrs Jeffries wanted her son to be moved from the set he was in because Jack would be in the class. Another foot in mouth moment for me when I said that “its not only Jack who is apprehensive coming back to school. Jordan has said and written some nasty things himself”. Well this opened the floodgates. She wanted to know who had made these accusations and that this was evidence of her son being labelled because of this other boy. I felt like I was facing the Spanish Inquisition here and I tentatively pulled a set of malicious emails sent by her son to Jack over the summer. You would think that mum would be shocked but no she went back on the attack complaining that she was never informed of Jordan being a bully and that these emails were a response to the stress he was suffering. By this stage Mrs Owl and Mrs Badger had come in and they were weathering the storm quite nicely. I make the excuse I have a lesson to get to and made my way for the door. Mrs badger and Mrs Owl are still in the throws of arguing over how much Jordan has learnt this year.

The history lesson goes off without a hitch and I have a nice lesson after lunch with a group of students working on some creative writing. I think I have a free period next and I’m dismayed when a large group of year Elevens turn up to my room. There isn’t enough space for them so we move on to a computer lab at the other end of the school. This lesson is like glorified baby-sitting where I have to watch the students do personal study. Most of them are good however two or three decide that YouTube is better than getting coursework done.

The last lesson is similar and I have sixteen students in a room that can only fit nine. I am so going to have to do something about this. I split the group between my room and the one next door. They are nice kids however they need close supervision to get their work done and I’m disappointed that the possibility this year of having some nice groups is slowly diminishing.

The bell rings for the end of the day and I remember we have parent teacher interviews. Before I can head down the secretary who says that an angry parent has just called and complained about her son being injured intercepts me. This is news to me and I try to find someone who can tell me what happened. Mrs Crow tells the English teacher says the boy had his chair pulled out from under him and hit his head on a chair. This is just what I need to round off the day. I quickly return the call to the injured students mum who has seemed to calm down and I agree to give her a call tomorrow when I have more details. I then call the chair pullers parent. I speak to his mum and she is shocked to hear what her son has done. I push that she comes in tomorrow morning but she makes some excuse that she has to work in the morning and would Wednesday be ok. I cant believe this her son has just injured another kid and she is asking if she can fit the interview around her work schedule. I need to really push this lady to see the seriousness of her son’s actions and a day would be too late. So I say that her son is facing a suspension for his actions. This instantly causes her to change her tune and she agrees to come in tomorrow for an interview. Great a nice start tomorrow! I head down to greet a few parents who want to see me then I slip away hoping nobody notices.