CharleneSeptember 6, 2008
Charlene was at The Metropolitan School long before I was. I met her in my first term here when she was in year 10. She came into my classroom, refused to sit where I asked, swore at me and walked out. I can’t remember what she said exactly as she has done this about fifteen times over the last year. I suppose that isn’t that many times, but as a perpetual internal truant (i.e. she’d be in school but wouldn’t attend lessons) she probably only attended twenty of my lessons in the four terms I was her teacher.
She is one of the first students to have had an incident recorded in the schools’ behaviour database. Most of what follows comes from that source.
In January of year 9 she was excluded for physical assault. Two months later she was excluded for refusal to follow rules. A month later she was excluded for further refusal plus a number of incidents of verbal abuse to both staff and students. The following month (still only in year 9) she was found in possession of drugs.
Unfortunately, all of this in five months of year 9 (plus whatever incidents had occurred before the current behaviour database started) was not enough to get a permanent exclusion and before she’d finished year 9 she’d had another exclusion for aggressive behaviour to another student.
I can only assume that efforts were made to find alternative provision at this point because there is nothing recorded for the first term of year 10. By February, she was back in school and getting excluded for having a frankly ridiculous number of detentions. A month later she was excluded for verbal abuse to staff and defiance. The same happened the following month. Her exclusions for the next two months (April and May if you haven’t been keeping count) were both for violent behaviour. There were no more exclusions in year 10. However, as we have now reached the point where I was teaching her I know it clearly wasn’t because her behaviour had improved.
She started year 11 with an exclusion for verbal abuse and truancy. I’d like to think that was connected to the abuse she threw at me. She thought I was a terrible teacher and loved to tell me that. And I smell too. By this point she was hardly in any lessons. This arrangement seemed to improve her behaviour but she was out again for verbal abuse and threats against members of staff in December and again in January.
At this point the database entries end. This is because within a month or two Charlene was sent on early study leave (a euphemism for being chucked out but told she could come back for exams). Now I cannot be sure about the details of the final incident that got her out. Communication is never good on these matters and everything I heard was second or third hand. What I do know is that one afternoon as I left school I saw a police car outside the school and several members of senior management. The following day it was announced that after an incident involving several members of her family she and one of her siblings were leaving the school. The word amongst the staff was that the incident had involved a fight with another family and knives were used. It had taken two years of incidents but she was out.
So why am I mentioning this now? Well partly the fact that her sibling (the one who was involved in this final incident) is back in school, but my main reason is this: I saw the register for the sixth form resit class for my subject. She’s been let back into the sixth form and is studying my subject.
Some people claim that the reason teenagers act as if their actions have no consequences is because they are young and impetuous. Consider the case of Charlene. She has committed what would be considered to be criminal offences in the adult world. Yet she is seen as a perfectly suitable candidate to learn a subject she has actively resisted learning for several years, in an institution she has continually harmed. It is not hard to see that in our education system the actions of teenagers genuinely don’t have consequences for them, only for those who want to learn and those who want to teach them.