I am in my seventh year as a TA with no complaints against me. Yesterday a pupil on step 3 of 4 on our class behaviour procedure told pupils I was working with that I had always been a pervert. (I had told him a few minutes before that his behaviour hadn't improved much since he was in Year 3.) He apologised 30 minutes later after being told he had to. But I refused to accept it. I was called into the assistant head's office and told that I was expected to apologise to him because I had demeaned and humiliated him in front of other pupils. His parents are being asked what action they want taken against me.
What you said
The child's comment was upsetting. I'm just wondering why you told him his behaviour had not improved much since Year 3. The child may have been hitting back at what he perceived to be a negative character evaluation. Your reasons for rejecting his apology are difficult to understand. You should talk to your line manager about what happened and why. It appears you have let this child get under your skin and reacted badly. Stepping back and reviewing the situation may give a different perspective.
You were slandered at work and your employers have a duty of care to you under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Perhaps your union rep could remind the school of that. I am sick of children thinking they can do and say as they please without any restraint or consequences. From now on, log and report via email to the assistant head everything of this nature.
The expert view
This is bizarre and must be horrible for you. From the details you have given, it is unclear why you are expected to apologise. After all, it was a totally inappropriate and sexual slur to make about an adult. You are under no obligation to accept an apology (although it will make subsequent work with this boy practically impossible).
It is poignant how pupils are often happy to be rude in public but apologise only in private. It is also noteworthy that this boy insulted you publicly but you appear to be facing pressure from management for also making your feelings clear publicly.
Without knowing more, it is impossible to comment properly, but I would say this: no one can make you apologise, and if it is not a genuine apology there is no point anyway. I do not know why your management appears to be acting so spinelessly when they should be supporting a staff member. You need representation before any meeting takes place on this issue because you must not be strong-armed into a situation you are not happy with. Good luck.
Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher. Read more from Tom on his TES blog, or follow him on Twitter at @tesBehaviour. His latest book, Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum
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