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Letter to school govenors

Unfair punishment

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#1 cpro

cpro

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 07:15 PM

Please can anyone help, I want to complain to the govenors.

 

Last week at school my son (undiagnosed but has a 'sprinkling of many traits from the autistic spectrum' was sent to reflection time for swearing.  (reflection being the most severe punishment)  They told me he swore at another pupil by sticking up his middle finger.  knowing my son I knew that he would have known what it meant and that he often uses that finger for pointing and I do tell him some people would consider it not polite.  I asked it they had asked him in detail about the incident and they said that 'at the end of the day he confessed to doing it'.  I am continually asking them to always consider the 'next step' when asking him or telling him off as he is black and white and not always the answer is what it may appear. Anyway... it turn out that he showed another pupil his finger as it was cold and smooth, the pupil told my son that it was swearing and went to tell the teacher.

 

I have discussed with teachers, TA and the head and they do not get it that when questioned 'Did you swear at the other pupil' my son obviously replied yes because as the boy had told him so after the event.  My son being black and white and also a very literal thinker so of course he would have said yes but if they had asked him did he know it was swearing he would have said no.

 

Anyway, I consider it that as he did not have the knowledge, understanding or the intention to swear he should not have been put into severe punishment but it educated him into what the action meant.  My son knows that reflection is severe an is very upset by it all, the teachers said it was only for 10 - 15 mins but it makes no difference if had been 1 to my son (aged 7).  On top of this he is in Yr 3 but struggling to achieve Yr 1 assessment and has speech and language reports clearly saying about his use of language and understanding language is below his age range.

 

This is just a long line of incident when they have been telling him off... for example he didn't want to sit at the tables for lunch with others and sat on a bench.  3 times he was told to sit at the table and he refused so sent to eat in a separate classroom for punishment - if they had asked him why he would have said that he didn't like the germs from people eating with their mouths full and it going on his food and also the tables were littered with food debris.  The fear of germs is not something abnormal to him and so should have been punished?

 

Anyone thoughts please?  THank you x

PS just found this site and what a useful site this be!



#2 SueKent

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 10:04 AM

Hello Norfolk Broads,

 

I have just joined the forum after seeing your post and wanting to reply. Your situation is one that I can identify with and I'm sure lots of other parents will too.

 

As with your son, my son has 'traits' but no clear diagnosis as yet (that's a whole other story!) and I do think that's part of the problem. Without this, in my experience, teachers (unless they have years of teaching under their belt, and even then only if they have an interest in this area) will follow a behavioural path which for all the reasons you set out so clearly in your post simply won't work and will only create confusion and possibly distress for your child. At worst, his self-esteem will be affected and he will be turned off education as my son has been.

 

Even if there is a diagnosis, the responses will depend on the knowledge and understanding of the teachers who come into contact with your child. Example - my son's paediatric assessment concluded that he had hypertonia (muscle weakness - classic ASD trait) and I wrote a letter to the school to ask if he could sit on a chair in assembly and not on the floor, as it hurt his back. Sometimes this was followed, sometimes he was told to sit on the floor and if he complained he was told 'you'll be alright' (he is very good at telling me exactly what goes on in his day!).

 

Does your school have a SENCO? It might be worth talking to them. If not, the school nurse might well be able to be a support to you. I think the post you have written is very clear about what has happened and your analysis of those events is reasonable and balanced, given your knowledge of your son.  With a bit of editing would be a very appropriate letter to send to the governors, with perhaps a focus on asking how the school could improve its response to both working collaboratively with parents and helping children who are in your son's position.

 

I think this is a huge issue and one that requires more research and campaigning. If anyone knows of any work going on in this area I would love to know about it. In the meantime good luck Norfolk Broads, continue advocating for your son because you know him best and let us know how you get on.

 



#3 cpro

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 08:38 PM

So this is what I sent.....

 

I want to request a meeting with both the Chair of Governors and the Head Teacher to discuss the problems that arose during the last weeks before Half Term.  My son was involved in some incidents regarding his misunderstood behaviour mostly during the lunch time breaks.

Rather than go over each one again – they were discussed during and after school with The Head on 10/2/17 and also with his teachers – I would like to come to an agreement how best my son can be supported in school when an incident occurs. 

My son is very distressed when he is accused of bad behaviour when he does not have the full knowledge, understanding or intention of the perceived bad behaviour and subsequent punishment.  I believe he has a very good idea of right and wrong but he needs to be able to explain fully what has happened, to be understood fully and supported by members of staff and for all to understand the difficulties he has, as highlighted in his speech and language report and also taking into account the autistic traits he appears to show.

I feel that behaviour management is an issue for my son, and I want to join in the discussion and decisions, so that with support my son can have a happy experience in school.

 

 

The REPLY.....

 

The Chair of govenors and I have discussed your email. I’m more than happy to continue the conversation with you to ensure that we are doing everything that we can to support your sons needs. The Chair of Goveners isn’t sure, at this stage, what he would be able to contribute to the discussion and would find it difficult to attend a meeting during the day due to work commitments. I think it might be more beneficial for us to meet with professionals from the specialist teaching team in order to get their input regarding behaviour management.

Please let me know if you’re happy with this as a way forward and we’ll get a meeting arranged.



#4 SueKent

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 05:07 PM

Hi cpro,

Apologies for getting your name wrong - I am new to using this kind of forum.

What a brilliant letter and even better, you got a very helpful reply.
I hope that it translates into a better response to your son's needs and things will improve for you both.

#5 cpro

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 12:17 AM

Thank you for your response, to be honest I was a little annoyed that I was not able to speak to the governors and thought it strange that the governors responded without hearing from both sides as I thought Governors were impartial, names have been removed... so I replied again..... I refer to a really useful website that I highly recommend!

 

Thank you for your email, I would like to get this resolved as soon as possible and for all involved with my son to understand how best to speak with him so that he is thoroughly understood and to give him the opportunity to explain his side of the story in full, as described in the Guidelines for Implementing the Staged Response section in the Positive Behaviour Policy and also for all to understand the difficulties he has in has with language and communication, as reported in his latest Speech and Language report.  I would also like to refer to (http://www.autism.or...g-children.aspx and also http://www.autism.or...viourguidelines) The National Autistic Society website, in particular the following sections -
Literal understanding

Always be aware of what you are saying and how the child might misunderstand it. Their understanding is likely to be literal: for example, if you say 'it's raining cats and dogs', they may look for cats and dogs falling from the sky. An expression such as 'crying your eyes out' can be taken at face value and cause distress or even terror.

Support effective communication

Some autistic people can have difficulty making themselves understood, understanding what's being said to them and asked of them, and understanding facial expressions and body language. Even those who speak quite fluently may struggle to tell you something when they are anxious or upset.

 

In the presence of 2 of his teachers I asked him how did you know that you swore at the other pupil he replied 'the pupil (name removed) told me once I done it'.  So with the above in mind, when he was asked after the incident by a teacher 'Did you swear at the other pupil', he replied 'Yes' which is the literal response to the question asked.  As I have explained on many occasions he needs to be asked the reason why did he do it and/or for what reason.  Had this have been asked he would have explained that he was showing the pupil his finger as it was cold and smooth, it was only then that pupil then told him he had sworn at him and he was telling the teacher.  If he had been asked if he meant to swear or if he knew he was swearing he would have replied 'No'.  I feel that he should have been educated as to what others may see his action to mean, as I do at home, when pointing sometimes he uses the middle finger and I tell him that some may think he is being rude and not polite.  A teacher commented that this was not normally the normal finger to use to point but often he does not follow what is the 'norm' and needs to be understood and as an individual.

I understand that he was not in reflection for a long time but it is not relevant as time has no meaning to him and for him he understands it to be the worst punishment possible and was upsetting to him as he had no intention to upset the other pupil.  I would also like to comment that on arriving at school after half term we walked through the line of waiting children and parents a child commented that 'that was the boy who swore at the other pupil (name removed) and was told off by the teacher'.  He struggles already with interaction and friendships in school and for him to receive this label was unjustified and very upsetting.

 

I have apologised to the TA for raising my voice before half term when she told me that he was only saying that he did not mean to do it to please me and that he had confessed. The only hand gesture I gave was a flat hand whilst walking away as the TA who was calling me back to let her explain.  I did not feel that what I was saying was not being understood which was upsetting and thought it best that it be dealt with through yourself, head teacher, to avoid possible confrontation and did not want to speak anymore about this incident at that time.  The TA has helped him a great deal making good progress with the help of the Council and his teacher which I appreciate greatly, he has a strong bond with the TA and I know he enjoys working with her and I know he will continue to do so in the future.

As we discussed and were not able to resolve, I still remain with the opinion that the reflection room punishment was not appropriate or justified as he did not have the knowledge/understanding of what holding up the middle finger meant and therefore did not have the intention to swear at the other pupil.  My son is not perfect all the time which I understand, but on the occasions where incidents occur that are out of character, if he is given the opportunity to explain there is usually a good explanation - as I have previously mentioned it may not be the conventional reason but for him it is.  I appreciate that I am with my son 24/7 when he is not at school and very rarely cared for by others and therefore it is easy for me to understand him and deal with matters often before they arise and I am more than happy to help in enabling others to do so also.

I would like this to be resolved as soon as possible so that we can move on and help him to be understood more effectively in the future.  I understand the School Governors have commitments elsewhere, however I would very much appreciate their input in this matter.

 

 

I sent this on the 28th Feb not had a reply as yet... I shall update as soon as I do....

 

 





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