I was asked if she wanted to go on a residential school trip. When she joined the school she did want to go but now reports feeling unsafe at school and does not want to go on the trip.
When I emailed the school to tell them this, the Head contacted me saying that as Head and Child Protection Officer he would like me to clarify what allegations were being made in view of her using the word “unsafe”
I had a long chat with my daughter and the following describes what she told me.
She states that she is frequently pushed by a male pupil into walls and bushes.
She feels that a female pupil and her friends pick on her.
I have to say on arriving at school one day I felt it was clear that a group of girls disliked Willow and were carrying out some low-level teasing.
In our meeting with my daughter’s class teacher, she stated that my daughter has never complained about any abuse, bullying or teasing by pupils. My daughter tells me that she does not complain as she feels she will not be believed. I have to say that in our two meetings with class staff there was a big emphasis put on how “nice” and “trusthworthy” the girls in daughter’s class are. That may well be the case but it does not mean that daughter’s feelings are not valid. Realistically, as I pointed out to the teacher, my experience is that few people, adults or children, are nice all the time.
I did ask the school to provide a book of some sort where my daughter could write down her feelings if she was nervous about saying things out loud. It appears this suggestion has not been taken up.
I told the teacher that if my daughter feels unable to complain alone then I am happy to come into school so she feels that bit safer to
In his email the Head raised two specific incidents.
1. My daughter made an awful comment against girls on her table.
On the day she made the comment, she came home in great distress telling me immediately what she had said and how she knew this was very wrong indeed. She was clearly very disappointed in herself. She was made in no doubt by the whole family that the comment was totally inappropriate.
The next day my daughter was scared to go to school fearing the consequences of her action. I told her she would have to face the discipline and then once she had, she would be able to move on.
M daughter arrived at school and walked out arriving home later that morning. I do not know when school became aware of this fact but I received a phone call from school after she had arrived home and it is a long walk home. I calmed her down and returned her to school again saying that she would have to face school discipline as she had done wrong. When I arrived at school, I told Reception I felt it would be useful for me to speak with the Head but was told that was not necessary.
I totally accept the comment made by my daughter was inappropriate and nasty. It does not however define her and I would hope both she and the school can leave it in the past at some point
The Head also alleged that my daughter had called her teacher stupid. Once again, had my daughter said this she would have been told off at home. From day one, my daughter has stated firmly that she never made this comment. Here is what she has told us.
She was talking to herself one day in class and said a phrase that does sort of rhyme with stupid but was not that word and was actually about her lunch choice. At that point a pupil went to the class teacher saying that my daughter had called her stupid. My daughter says he then persuaded his friends to allege the same. The teacher said my daughter was to see her at break time and that at break, she sent my daughter to the Head’s office. She says she went to the office and the boys who were saying she had said “stupid” were there. She says the Head asked her what had happened and that she was scared so at first said nothing. She said that the Head stated she was wasting break time. She says the Head spoke louder and asked “What are you here for?” She then says she said “They think I said that my teacher was stupid” She says the Head’s voice got louder and he said “They think. I am pretty sure they know” Then he sent the boys off saying their playtime should not be wasted because of my daughter. He asked her to write a report but she felt unable to write it as the felt there was not an incident to report as she had not said “stupid.” She says she wrote down “I ..” and then stopped. At the end of break she says the Head checked on her report and shouted at her saying that she was to come back at lunch time without having dinner. So she came back at lunch and he said that she had to write a report like in a newspaper saying she had done it because she had. So she admitted it to but did not write down what she was alleged to have said as she knew it was not the truth. She states he then said she had to write down that she had said the teacher was stupid. She said he disappeared but came back and she gave him the report. Then she says he told her to write an letter of apology to the teacher. She says she did this letter but kept it short as she had not said “stupid” in the first place.
Our concerns are that
1 My daughter is unhappy at school.
2. My daughter feels that she can not complain about anything as she will not be believed
3. My daughter is being picked on by several pupils
4. We don’t want our daughter to be defined as nasty by the school although we acknowledge as does she that she has made at least one nasty comment.
5. We are concerned that when my daughter has denied an allegation that she called a teacher stupid, she seems to have been forced to confess and apologise for something she did not say.
I have emailed the Head with this information.
It is clear that my daughter has lost all trust in the school so we need to work out what is best for her now.
I really would welcome comments on this one as it is a tricky and challenging situation.