The Teachers Are Blowing Their Whistles!

Subtitle

My first nine weeks teaching at a school near Brisbane.

Student free day.

The school's poor NAPLAN results are explained.

These NAPLAN results are amongst the worst in the district but 'due to student confidentiality requirements' they are not published.

 

Student free day.

The teachers are told to bring their teaching into line with the new curriculum that should have already been implemented.

The need to make each and every lesson count was stressed by the principal.

To that end he also tells teachers that colouring-in activities with the high-school students must end.

 

Student free day.

The acting principal explains that he is unwilling to recommend exclusions during his first term.

 

Week 1

School begins.

There is a student to teacher ratio of considerably less than 5:1. 

The first of many class restructures and cancellations occurs.

Volunteers are sought to teach a horticulture subject in conjunction with this restructure, although no reference was made to what part of the curriculum this might fulfil.

 

Many low level acts of intimidation and bullying.

Teachers told to ignore this behaviour, as it was attention-seeking.

Students involved deny that they had behaved inappropriately and no known consequences are applied.

 

Week 2

Teacher suggests relocating the oldest secondary students to a separate classroom on the primary campus to isolate troublemakers.

Acting Principal says that it would be “too dangerous”.

 

The campus caters for much less than 20% of local students.

Teachers learn that the other 80% of local students spend at least an extra 2 hours in transit each day at a cost of over $1000 per year to go to other schools.

 

Withdrawal system established.

Students are to reflect on the behaviour which led them to be withdrawn from class.

“Reflection sheets” are then to be mailed home to parents.

 

Petitioners meet the acting principal.

Their concerns include equipment and facilities, small cohort size and socialisation, behaviour management and safety as well as inadequate curriculum and age inappropriate colouring-in activities.

 

Another class reorganisation.

A teacher was asked to develop a Robotics unit for the one student who requested it.

About a week or so later when the materials had been gathered for this activity the unit had been cancelled.

 

Offensive Language.

Teachers quibble over whether the words such as “D-ckhead” “D-ckbreath” and “C-ckhead” should be considered offensive and banned.

The point of contention is that they are combinations of two inoffensive words.

No consensus is reached.

It is decided that warnings should be given for offensive language during the term with consequences to be applied from next term.

 

Teacher barred from entering a toilet to follow up on smoking smell.

 

Week 3

“Reflection sheet” mail out cancelled.

This followed a complaint from a parent.

Reflection process is further undermined when students refuse to participate.

 

Car defaced.

The car’s owner photographs the graffiti but is told by an administrator to delete the images.

 

Another class reorganisation.

Teacher was asked for the third time in as many weeks to redesign a unit because the students kept complaining it was too difficult.

 

Yet another class reorganisation.

A teacher was asked to develop a new unit of their own choice.

 “Something hands on to keep them busy.”

The design brief was simple “Something you are good at.” “Something from your background.”

No reference was made to what part of the curriculum this might fulfil.

 

 

Students begin to ride bicycles around the buildings.

Rather than deal with students refusing to follow teacher directions to stop or that the bicycles were stolen from younger students, it is decided that riding amongst the classrooms is a safety issue and the bicycles are to be locked up.

 

Week 4

Teacher reports that students seem to be organising drug deals in class.

Teacher is told to inform students of the school’s mandatory reporting obligations and to ask the students to stop talking about drugs in class otherwise they would have to be reported.

(Drug usage isn’t explicitly included in the child protection provisions however the administrator does not seem to realise this.)

 

The owners of the bicycles don’t want them locked up.

Older students are free to recommence stealing bicycles and ride them around the buildings.

 

The acting principal finds a teacher engaged in a colouring-in exercise with her class.

Her response was that she was doing “university level colouring-in”.

 

Week 5

Impromptu assembly called.

“The playground situation seemed very volatile.”

Situation worsens; teachers report feeling unsafe.

 

The town’s most senior police officer was asked to attend an emergency staff meeting.

A school guidance officer refers to the assembly as a “potentially traumatic event”.

 

Pieces of wall cladding begin appearing on the tables in the centre of the staffroom.

The cleaner witnesses students damaging a section of one of the buildings.

 

 

Approximately 20% of students begin taking every second Thursday afternoon off - seemingly to collect drugs from out of town.

 

Week 6

Another volatile assembly.

Staff members reiterate their objections to the manner in which the assemblies are run.

 

Two different students threaten teachers within five minutes of each other.

The acting principal suggests that the teachers report the threats to the police.

Over the next week, teachers are given no less than four different explanations for

why no consequences were applied to the students.

 

Students refuse to attend a class.

After a brief discussion between the students and an administrator, the subject is cancelled.

 

Acting Principal summoned.

The acting principal is required to attend a meeting with visiting teachers and their school’s senior administration to discuss issues with the campus.

The acting principal acknowledges the validity of their concerns but asks for more time to deal with the problems.

 

Week 7

Third assembly ends early due to the extremely volatile situation.

No further assemblies held in the term due to safety concerns.

 

Week 8

A cleaner once again witnesses students damaging a section of wall cladding.

This time a teacher photographs the damage and helps prepare a written incident report; the acting principal acts, however further damage occurs.

 

An executive from district office implies that they no longer want the acting principal to keep them informed of problems with the campus.

 

Students begin to break into classrooms during lunch and morning tea.

Soon an administrator tells teachers not to give keys to students under any circumstances.

Two days later the same administrator gives a set of master keys to a student and teachers find every room in the building opened.

 

Student slams a door on a teacher.

Later that afternoon the same student repeatedly blocks a door with his foot whilst a teacher tried to leave a classroom.

 

Student threatens to fabricate allegations against a teacher.

This is overheard by another staff member.

 

Another re-organisation is made to the curriculum.

In an effort to deal with inappropriate behaviours an administrator agrees to run Certificate level courses with little understanding of what is involved with offering accredited qualifications.

 

More complaints begin coming in regarding secondary students doing damage to the primary school pool.

 

A student arrives at a class smoking.

 

Wall cladding is repaired the afternoon before the building is to be used by the public.

 

One secondary teacher suggests "blowing the whistle".

He is talked out of it by a primary colleague.

 

The primary colleague then tips off the Acting Principal in a memo which explains that in a small community like this no one can afford the bad publicity.

 

Week 9

Secondary teacher (the potential whistleblower) is assaulted by a student who is later identified as a “probable borderline psychopath”.

September 2016 postscript to this story.

Under the LNP government the campus was finally shut down. 

By this stage, enrolments were down to single digits and non-enrolment of local kids had passed 90%. 

The official line from the politicians and the department was that there was nothing wrong with the campus.

(Although they could have blamed almost everything on the previous Labor governments of Anna Bligh and Peter Beattie.) 

The closure came about, they told us, only because, being so small, our campus couldn't offer the 'wide range of subjects that 90 per cent of locals demanded for their children'.


What about the students, you ask? 

As of September 2016, I believe that over half of my year 9 class are in jail. 

These were the "good" kids.

I have no idea how the students who seemed to be dealing drugs have fared.


And the cleaner?

As for the cleaner who witnessed and reported students damaging the buildings; her contract was terminated and given to the other team who did a poor job, but minded their own business.

Problems?

This story was emailed to me privately in April and September 2016.

I believe it is true.

[email protected]

 

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