The Most Ridiculous Complaints Ever Made Against MeMarch 4, 2007
A natural hazard of teaching these days is the belief that parents should be able to hold teachers to account. This is, of course, ridiculous. Parents have only one source of information about what happens at school: their kids. As any realist knows children are prone to lying to their parents. This is not necessarily for malicious reasons, very often children find it embarrassing to talk their honestly to their parents about their life. Come to think of it, this is also true of most adults I know too. Therefore virtually any complaint formed on the basis of a child’s comments to parents is a string of lies, but as teachers aren’t actually considered to be trusted professionals the parents are listened to.
Most complaints are normally along the lines of “my child doesn’t get any homework”, which normally translates as “my child doesn’t do any homework” and can be dealt with by sending the homework to whoever is dealing with the complaint. However some are more serious. The complaints below resulted in a Headteacher lecturing me and turning up for “surprise” observations, a Deputy Head interrogating me, a parent confronting me in reception as I arrived at work, another parent turning up and threatening to attack me and several children being moved classes. The management strategy is invariably to appease the parents of badly behaved children. No parent was told: “if you don’t like it, go to another school”.
Complaint No 1: “He picks on me”
Made by: Kelly Winton. Alpha female in year 8 at the Metropolitan School.
What actually happened: I told her to stop interrupting me. I told her to do some work in lessons. She wasn’t the only child to be told this, although she was the only one (that week) to start yelling at me and verbally abusing me when I suggested it. A more general variation of the complaint was that I pick on the girls in that class. This probably had less impact as at the same time I was being accused of picking on the boys in the class. Another parental complaint from the same class also explained that expecting their son to stop interrupting me and do some work showed that I wasn’t prepared for “the realities of the multicultural classroom”.
Complaint No 2: “He won’t help me with my coursework”
Made by: Some very lazy year 11s at Woodrow Wilson School.
What actually happened: They wouldn’t do their coursework. My offer to help them any day after school was ignored. According to the complaint I couldn’t be found in my department after school. The fact that I was the one that used to switch off the lights in the departmental office at the end of the day would suggest I could, in fact, be found for hours after school (and have no life).
Complaint No 3: “He assaulted me.”
Made by: Kieran Kennings, one of the mental boys at Stafford Grove School (mentioned in this entry)
What actually happened: Kieran turned up to my form room while I was taking the register. He opened the door (into the Corridor Of Death) and refused to move. When the bell went my form group became trapped in the room, crowding around the door. I gently led Kieran out of the way by the elbow. Despite the law that states that teachers can use reasonable force to prevent pupils “engaging in behaviour prejudicial to maintaining good order and discipline” even the gentlest effort to prevent pupils from harming others can be subject to complaint. “You can’t touch me” is almost the catchphrase of any child engaging in behaviour that would get them arrested (or beaten up) out in the real world.
Complaint No 4: “He assaulted me”
Made by: Jason Birch, year 7 at the Metropolitan School.
What actually happened: A good question. I’m still at a loss to explain this one. I know Jason had decided he didn’t like me, the point where he called me a knob gave that away. I did tell him I’d be telling his father about this behaviour. Somehow that turned into a full-fledged accusation of assault, although given that we were both seated and at opposite ends of the classroom I’m not sure how this worked. Very strange indeed, but then the boy had been told that his behaviour was down to a “medical condition”, which in my experience usually means that the child will do whatever they like without fear of consequences.
Complaint No 5: “He threw us down the stairs”.
Made by: Year 7 boys at Stafford Green school.
What actually happened: I threw some year 7 boys down the stairs.
Okay I admit it. I lied about the last one.
The year 7s I threw down the stairs didn’t complain.
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