I have a question for you. I’d like you to ponder the enormity of it, not just roll with your gut reaction because it’s a genuinely tough one. Let me set the scene. You are a well established teacher, known for having a sound moral compass and for instilling the same in the young people whose lives you touch. The lessons about the prevention of bullying are delivered and young people implored to have the courage to do ‘the right thing’ i.e. to tell someone. You are quite accustomed to dealing with bullying, it’s prevention and the fall out for those involved when it happens. In fact you have been on the receiving end of the odd attempt to bully in the attempt to create a bit of ‘one-upmanship”, generally from a particular lady known to be the staff room bully. That was unpleasnt but this was worse.
To set the scene, I was last out of my tutor group to a Y11 Physical Education lesson and I was stopped by the Y11 boys rugby captain as I crossed the threshold into the corridor. He welled up as he spoke “please don’t make me go there, Miss. Please. I’ll do anything.” My mind was going into overdrive trying to assimilate the information I thought I had — Y11 rugby captain, has a rugby lesson and is on the verge of tears begging not to go. Definitely something amiss. After further investigations it transpires that he was being bullied. Bullied by his teacher. Yes, you read right. Bullied by his teacher. Then a group of boys appeared to complain that they were having to explain the material and assessment to their teacher. They were followed by a Y9 complaining of sexist behaviour towards the girls in his class. Then another Y11 boy asking if he could have a quiet word. I admire the courage of these kids and feel humbled that they trusted me enough to tell me and know that I would do the right thing.
Not to worry though, a quiet word and hopefully it could be ironed out amicably. Turns out that that was a scenario in my dreams. So was getting support from senior leadership. I felt for the kids because I became the target of the bullies intimidation as the story played out. So much so that he backed me up against the office wall, nose to nose, in his attempts to intimidate. Cleverly done where the CCTV wasn’t around. Naturally he was Mr charming and charisma to other staff, particularly to the senior leadership team. So here is the moral conundrum — do you do what is right or what is easier? Just think about that question though, think it through. Think about the full ramifications. Put yourself well and truly into my shoes. What would you do?