Last night a lovely Headteacher who I have a lot of time for posted a link to a video by renowned behavioural specialist and government guru Tom Bennett.The gist of it was that unruly children are given IEPS by well meaning SENCOS which give them carte blanche to behave as badly as they like without recourse to the school behaviour management policy. Said guru reflected that some children cannot operate within school parameters and would be better off in a unit outside mainstream provision. Now as a former primary PRU deputy I accept that this is the case for some children but what I cannot accept are the lazy assumptions behind this view.
If you are going to record an assertive video, please pay attention to body language….slumping as if you are sitting in your lounge at the end of a hard day does not look professional. Please keep your tone professional…waving your hands about whilst dissing fellow professionals in a casual dismissive way does not inspire confidence. If you are going to make a serious point gravitas is essential rather than looking as if you are making points on the hoof….you are a guru not a donkey!
Immediately I felt impatient and not too interested in unpicking the views made…Tom is an old hand at this and his views are well known to regular observers…he is a big fan of zero tolerance and exclusion. What I cannot accept is that a paid government commentator can express such casual views in a way that brooks no further debate….he is right and he knows it…end of!
Now this is where it gets unpleasant…I know that a big weakness of mine is flying off the handle where vulnerable children are concerned and I went off the scale at this point….however I figured that Tom is a big boy and can look after himself in a tussle! Wrong! He went all injured innocence and accused me of being ‘uncivil’ ….kept warning me and saying he was sad! Bollocks! He has no regard for me at all…I am anathema to him! In the past I have pleaded for us to have a dialogue about exclusion and been patronised to the core! I was like a little dog licking his abusive master’s shoes begging to be patted because he was a superior being….how he must have laughed!! No more….fortunately this delicate flower has blocked me! A great way to stifle debate!
So why am I so angry? Well first off, mention of SENCOs leads to thinking about children with special needs. Is he suggesting that behaviour is linked to SEN or that behaviour IS SEN?? Are SENCOs out to make the life of poor class teachers harder than it needs to be? Really? Are SENCOs on the side of unruly children and seeking to make excuses for them at the expense of ‘good’ children? Are they encouraging them to flout school rules? Looks like it according to Tom! And this begs the question about the role of SENCOs ….they do not write IEPS. ..teachers do…remember the Code of Practice and quality first teaching? Tom?
So then what? Well apparently these kids are unsuited to mainstream and should be shunted somewhere else where they cannot do any more harm to their poor long suffering peers and teachers! Now in my area there are PRUS. …but guess what? Thanks to the reasoning of Tom -following heads they are now full! And so they languish in their (unsuitable?) homes for months on end with one hour (if they are lucky) home tuition per day! Bloody marvellous eh? But who cares? Not schools’ problem….the White Paper was never enforced on making them accountable for excludees’ next provision. LEAs have closed provision year on year so they have nowhere to turn either…slow handclap!
When I left my PRU it was full of children on the autistic spectrum….yes really Tom…in direct contravention of the law which is supposed to protect children with SEND….conveniently most received their diagnosis at the PRU ( thanks to me…I was SENCO). I am accused of being aggressive, personal, unprofessional…but who speaks for those with no voice? It is OK for gurus to make sweeping statements but there is no right of reply….parents do not read TES…teachers do ….this only tells half the story! Thank God for parents like @StarlightMcKenzie who keep us on our toes! And shame on the likes of @tombennett71 who use their position to expound negative views which can only perpetuate the great divide in our schools