'Web of distrust left me a victim'

3rd March 2000 at 00:00
"I LEFT the school a complete victim," Renate Williams told The TES this week. "But you have to stick by your truth and face the consequences."

The 33-year-old, who is now out of work and still receiving counselling after her court victory last year, feels vindicated by the social services report.

She said she was given no support as a newly-qualified teacher carrying a huge workload (including teaching responsibilities for a subject in which she had not trained).

Miss Williams said she was left to cope with challenging pupils in an environment lacking consistent discipline. Eventually, she cracked.

"The report reinforces everything I said and why I was in such difficulties. It indicates the climate of sexual intrigue, suspicion and distrust," she said.

"The false allegations made against me could only have been made in such an environment.

"What's of most concern to me is that those allegations were more readily acted on than my own concerns regarding the standards of welfare, health and safety, discipline, and the curriculum itself.

"That gave a vry strong message to the pupils themselves. The lack of supervision meant that they often felt neglected and resentful, and felt the school was failing them. The school was also failing me personally."

She added: "With the overall lack of a cohesive policy on discipline, my confidence declined very rapidly. I was an NQT whose authority was undermined very quickly.

"If I reported incidents, the boys made it very difficult."

She said she was only twice observed at school, and received no feedback. She compares this with the more supportive experience of working in a state comprehensive during teaching practice and says NQTs should give careful consideration to starting their careers in the less well-regulated private school sector.

In a more supportive environment, she could have proved herself to be a good teacher, she says, but has reservations about returning to the profession, and wonders whether any school would take her on.

"I've come through it. I feel quite strong and I'm able to talk about things - and hopefully some good will come of that."

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