Secret Teacher: my headteacher has handed control to the students

May 6, 2017 by


Pupils are encouraged to leave class when they choose and take complaints about teachers straight to the head. It’s undermining our authority

There is a low-level rumble of discontent in my school. It’s the sound of teachers’ concerns falling on deaf ears. Because our headteacher is listening to students, not us.

I believe in inclusion, but at my school this idea is taken to the extreme. My head takes on the most challenging students as a personal project, operates an open-door policy, and bends over backwards to keep them on the school roll.

These students seem to be given freedom to follow their own agenda in classrooms, and are encouraged to bypass their teachers and take any complaints straight to the head. Students feel heard, but teachers are shut out of the conversation. The result? Teachers’ authority is undermined and behaviour throughout the school is spiralling downwards.

Pupils excuse themselves from lessons, saying they have permission to see the head. Some are on first-name terms with our boss. To their less assertive mates these students are cult figures, whose behaviour can be copied. To the conscientious pupils whose lessons they’ve delayed with time-wasting debates, they are an irritant.

After such visits, staff are sometimes asked to explain a decision or incident raised by one of these pupils. One notoriously vexatious student complained about the way a teacher had organised their classroom because of where they were sat. The teacher was later questioned about it; it didn’t seem to have occurred to the head that they’d thought long and hard about the arrangement.

I would expect a head’s first response would be to defend the teacher and their reasoning – we all know what a Jenga game a seating plan can be: make one ill-thought out move and the whole edifice collapses.

Another teacher was offered the option of being part of a conflict resolution process after a disagreement with a student. But although the outside arbitrator came to hear the student’s side of the story, the teacher was never contacted. The teacher felt their side of their view hadn’t been given equal weight.

Source: Secret Teacher: my headteacher has handed control to the students | Teacher Network | The Guardian

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