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Freedom to protect pupils from danger on school trips

Comment 8th July 2010

 

As a teacher I was free to give up my spare time to take my 11 year old pupils away on residential trips to try canoeing, rock climbing and abseiling.  However, I was not free to protect them from danger.

A teacher must be free to exclude a violent pupil from a trip if they believe that his/her presence will prejudice the safety of the other children.  At present a head teacher can insist a pupil “stays on the list” for a residential school trip even though it is impossible to give that pupil the support his Statement demands.  My head teacher did just that.

A teacher must be free to share information with other professionals in order to ensure the safety of their pupils.  I told the instructors at the outdoor education centre I was taking my pupils to that this violent boy had a Statement which gave him full time support in school.  My local authority found me guilty of professional misconduct at a disciplinary hearing for doing this.  You see my head, Hackney Social Services and the child's foster carers wanted this fact kept secret so that the centre would take the child at night without his support thus enabling his foster parents to have a holiday without him.  Unfortunately it would also have enabled this pupil to carry out an Edlington type of assault.  The Department of Education has said that Kent County Council’s action was correct, “reasonable” in civil service parlance, even if I was right about the risk to my pupils.

Why does this matter?

The same ritual follows every child tragedy in this country be it the murder of Victoria Climbie or Baby Peter or the violent assaults in Edlington.

The Secretary of State for Education stands up in the Commons and says, his voice cracking with emotion, that this must never be allowed to happen again.  He will then say that the main reason for the tragedy was the failure of professionals to share information and vow that steps will be taken to remedy this.

But then nothing is ever done.  Whistle blowers are condemned and the tragedies continue.

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