Some of you may remember my excitement on getting a new job back in April. A new challenge, teaching the 'unteachable'. It was a fresh start in education, my previous role having become stale and uninspiring.
Pupil referral units are for the young people who, for whatever reasons have not managed to stay in mainstream school. Engagement is the key alongside opportunities for them to get some qualifications and enable them to go on to college or into the world of work.
I was excited and fearful....but wanted to work with kids who many said weren't worth the effort. They were and are worth it, often funny, always interesting rarely a problem.
Two weeks into my new job there was an incident, very alarming and as I hadn't experienced anything like this before I was quite frightened, a member of staff was assaulted it was then I saw the unit and council for what they were. My manager was suspended, a man who was the reason I left comfortable mainstream for. Inspiring and a great manager, I felt I could grow with him. He was gone. I felt isolated, confused and approached the string of new managers for support and guidance, it wasn't forthcoming.
Time went by, my sessions spent with the kids were great, meanwhile the management structure of the unit was collapsing.
Long story short...there was another incident, this time involving me. Violent and verbally abusive a troubled young man kicked off big style. Having not received the incident training I had asked for I dealt with the situation the best I could, no one was physically hurt, the child got home safely, eventually. Emotionally battered I sought help....not forthcoming. So, once again the support I needed came from my partner, strong, caring and by now quite cross!
I was suspended the next day. Asked to leave the building, read the riot act, told that I could not speak to anyone who worked for the council nor enter any of the council properties, including other schools, bearing in mind my youngest attends a local school...thankfully no longer run by the council...those were the conditions, I had to abide by them. The reasons for suspension were vague. How I reacted during the incident and a breakdown in relationship with management. I was devastated, I had never experienced anything like this before, nearly 7 years in education not so much as a warning....tears, anger more tears and self doubt ravaged my mind.
So I was asked to go to a pre-hearing interview, my union rep by my side. When I asked for clarification regarding the charges their answer was laughable...a judgement I made during the incident was in question....ok I hear you say.....what judgement as that? We're not sure...no seriously that's actually true. Management relationship breakdown? Er...we don't have specific details... they didn't know. My life was on hold, unable to leave my job or apply for others I was in limbo. I had convinced myself that I had made mistake, somehow endangering the young man.
As each day passed I resigned myself to having to see this out, all those around me telling me I would be cleared, that I had done nothing wrong, difficult to take on board, surely they couldn't suspend people without some sort of concrete evidence?
I was not the only one suspended in total 4 people were suspended. Interestingly the most passionate and outspoken members of staff.
So after a lovely short break away I came home to a letter...."Your suspension is lifted, no case to answer" I have to go to a meeting on Tuesday and return to work on Wednesday, with the people who suspended me, the people who claim there was a breakdown in our relationship,even though they couldn't tell me what that breakdown was. I am not allowed to take my union rep with me to the meeting, just me and my accusers.
I have been working for this unit for 5 months, 3 of which have been under suspension, on full pay.
I'm done with education, my confidence is shot and my passion is dead. No longer do I want or need to save the youth, this upsets me greatly but I have nothing left to give.
The education system sucks..... many good people are leaving, disillusioned, passionless, pissed off. I admire the ones who stay, although the reality is that the ones who are leaving are probably the ones who should stay, fight on,bring education back to what it should be about, educating.
And so to the future.... a nice little job with no stress, no ticking of boxes, no more teaching to pass exams.
Freedom approaches my friends, I grieve no more, still cry a bit but that's anger......