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Would you report this colleague?
Teacher duty of care issue - high school

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#1 Gumnut82

Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:42 PM

This is a bit long, sorry!

I have a colleague (who I will refer to as X) who repeatedly ignores Duty of Care requirements in terms of supervising students. Whilst I understand that some schools are fairly lax about these things (particularly with senior students), our principal is very particular about stringently enforcing the department's Duty of Care policy as there have been previous issues with litigious parents. We are repeatedly reminded that students are not to be left unsupervised in a classroom whether it be during class time or at recess/lunch. X himself has on several occasions reprimanded some of my colleagues for briefly leaving students unsupervised (eg. seniors working on a project in their classroom during lunch, teacher ducked out to go to the toilet). The hypocrisy of this is infuriating me, as during the last week alone I have had the following experiences with X:

* Students in his classroom at lunch, unsupervised. I went into the staffroom and said as casually as I could, "Oh, X, did you know there's students in your classroom?" to which he muttered something about needing to make a phone call and he'd head back in.

* Finding X in the staffroom when I had seen him lining a junior class up at the start of the lesson. "Um, who's watching your class, X?" The teacher's aide, apparently. He saw no problem with this. It was the bottom year 8 class which is on a special behaviour monitoring program and still so nuts I don't even turn my back on them.

* X was running late to work (a common occurrence) and called the staffroom. Asked one of my colleagues to let his senior class into his classroom. She refused, saying they would be unsupervised. X insisted, saying he would "take responsibility". She again refused, and was extremely unhappy about the pressure he put on her.

* A particular senior student working in his classroom at lunch, unsupervised. Another of my colleagues saw her there and ended up sitting there for the rest of lunch to supervise her.

* The same senior student on her way up to his classroom at the start of lunch yesterday. Knowing what would happen, I stopped her and explained the concept of Duty of Care in very clear terms. She brushed me off and reassured me that she knows that, X ALWAYS supervises her, yadda yadda yadda. Twenty minutes later, I found her alone in the classroom, door closed (ie. so nobody would know she was in there). She had no idea where the teacher was. I explained yet again about Duty of Care and said that although I agreed it was highly unlikely that anything would go wrong, if it did then X was legally negligent. I stressed VERY clearly that she could not continue working in the classroom unsupervised.

* Same senior student alone in the classroom at recess today. Another colleague and I spoke to her and told her she had to leave. X nowhere in sight.

* Today again. Saw X letting same senior student, plus others, into his classroom at start of lunch. Heard him tell them they needed to be quiet. Found X in the staffroom 10 minutes later, students still in his classroom. Told him bluntly, "X, there are students in your room, you have to be in there supervising." X didn't respond but did comply.

To make all this worse, X is my superior and has been teaching for 30+ years. I should not be having to remind him to follow these basic rules!! rant.gif

I am not sure if I'm legally obliged to report these sorts of things (?), but I at least feel morally responsible, not to mention I'm furious at his hypocrisy. The problem is, I have repeatedly had to report X for other things and I'm tired of being the only one who speaks up and formally complains about him. Earlier this year I got so fed up I wrote an e-mail to the principal detailing X's failings to competently meet the basic requirements of his role (no programs, no resources, no disciplinary support, Board of Studies HSC due dates ignored, etc) and whilst the principal was suitably horrified and promised change, none has eventuated. I pretty much vowed to give up reporting issues seeing as nothing was going to be achieved as I was tired of sounding like a whinger!

I have one week left and then I go on maternity leave, which is another reason I think I should just keep quiet. But my colleagues will have to continue dealing with X and as will I when I return to work late next year, unless I can find a better job. The problem is certainly not just going to go away by itself, and X still has at least 2 years left until retirement cry1.gif

So what would you do in this situation??? Say something or shut up? As a parent, what would you want done?

(A quick clarification - I agree the Duty of Care policies seem a bit OTT in some ways and I would love to be able to leave senior students working in my classroom unsupervised, but I'm not going to ignore the rules because at the end of the day, they're there for good reason AND I know they protect me just as much as students.)

#2 JRA

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:10 PM

QUOTE (stopwhiningatme @ 12/12/2012, 04:06 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Are students really not allowed to do work alone in a classroom, or be accompanied by a couple of other students, unless a teacher is present?

That was my first reaction. I am shocked

#3 Mousky

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:12 PM

We were often left unsupervised at high school and it was a private. But considering his poor behaviour, yep I'd be reporting him.

#4 PatG

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:14 PM

Why does your maternity leave mean you should keep quiet?  I think you should raise the issue.  In nice calm statements like you have here, preferably with dates at well.  The Teacher Aide (are they for the whole class or specific students?) might have something to say too....

#5 Rexit

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:33 PM

The Qld state school I was in this year allowed seniors to be unsupervised in classrooms, but the issue is rather his blatant disregard of the rules. I think it's very important that we teachers are as consistent as possible when it comes to following the rules, otherwise what is that modelling for the students? I'm assuming you have permanency so I would say something to the principal. And if your colleagues are not willing to support your claims nor say anything themselves then they will be the ones who have to continually put up with his antics in the interim. It must be very frustrating mad.gif

#6 protart roflcoptor

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:47 PM

Senior students not allowed to be unsupervised? How do they learn to work independently? Sounds very cotton wooly.

Oh, and Duty of Care, as a legal concept is not the same as 'caring', 'babysitting' or 'supervising' someone.

#7 applepie83

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:48 PM

As a teacher, you already know the answer - report him.

#8 Drowningnotwaving

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:49 PM

I would be more concerned about the ott rules than x. Micro-supervising seniors like that seems to be a waste of resources.

#9 OzeMum

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:50 PM

I am not a teacher, but I work in a school in a support role.

We would definitely be expected to report this.  We have recently had a PD session on Code of Conduct/Duty of Care and this type of scenario was definitely marked as reportable Professional Misconduct in our school.

#10 applepie83

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:51 PM

QUOTE (ossim roflcopter @ 12/12/2012, 05:47 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Senior students not allowed to be unsupervised? How do they learn to work independently? Sounds very cotton wooly.

Oh, and Duty of Care, as a legal concept is not the same as 'caring', 'babysitting' or 'supervising' someone.

Not it is not 'cotton wooly', its actually illegal (breach of duty of care) to leave students unsupervised. If something happened, the school/ teacher would be liable.

#11 protart roflcoptor

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:53 PM

QUOTE (applepie83 @ 12/12/2012, 04:51 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Not it is not 'cotton wooly', its actually illegal (breach of duty of care) to leave students unsupervised. If something happened, the school/ teacher would be liable.

What a ridiculous over-reaction by the school.

#12 Escapin

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:57 PM

It sounds like you and X are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it come to following the rules. Really, I would just let it all go. You're going to give yourself a coronary worrying about something which you have no control over, no authority over and no responsibility for. Not to mention the fact that the whole 'supervising' rule sounds completely OTT. It's clear that you're not going to get him to chance his behaviour, so really, just let it go!

#13 Propaganda

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:58 PM

It sounds like you don't much like him, and as bad as it sounds, I'd be more likely to report him because of that and the fact that he dobs on everyone else while doing the same thing himself. That would make me annoyed enough to dob him in.

If I liked him and he didn't dob in others I wouldn't, because the rules sound ridiculous.

#14 FeralRebelWClaws

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:58 PM

I feel your pain OP. Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one following these rules!

I have one colleague (who has acted in a leadership role prior) who constantly lets students into rooms when they shouldn't be there unsupervised (the school has issues with some students vandalising/stealing equipment). This includes computer labs. I've also seen this person walk off and make phone calls while mean to be in class. They often walk off and leave the teachers aid alone with the class. This is NOT ok. It is not the aid's job to teach or discipline other students. It is their job to assist the particular students they are there for.

Really peeve's me off too OP, I'd have to say something. What if this person was your childs teacher? Chances are the school is well aware and are just biding their time until X retires.

I know we've had a contract teacher who barely supervises his classes when he is there and the students don't learn anything in his classes (they get excited when I have their class because I have more subject knowledge than he does even though it's his teaching area.) I have raised my concerns, and the response was pretty much that their hands were tied and they were just doing their best to get through until the end of the year!

#15 MakkaPakkaDad

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:59 PM

I'd raise your concerns quietly with his HoD - it's part of their management responsibility.  If the HoD sweeps it under the carpet (or X is the HoD), then go up the chain (Deputy Principal or Principal).  Just be discrete and stick to the facts :-)

#16 NunSoFeral

Posted 12 December 2012 - 04:59 PM

We live in litigious times.

What are your motives - protecting the school and students against possible damage/injury?

Or because the guy is a hypocrite/douche and you want to get him busted so he learns to follow the rules?

Rules may be reflective of a society gone cotton-wooly - but they exist.

And if something happened to an unsupervised child in this circumstance, and you hadn't spoken up - what then?

#17 MintyBiscuit

Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:01 PM

If supervision, regardless of the age of the student, is what the rules call for, then I'd be mentioning it. It might seem OTT, but presumably it's there for a reason, and if X has a problem with those rules he should be discussing it with the principal

#18 HRH Countrymel

Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:09 PM

QUOTE (katevictoria @ 12/12/2012, 04:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
To make all this worse, X is my superior and has been teaching for 30+ years.

I think that is the problem.  If he has been teaching for 30+ years he is probably rather contemptuous of the rule.

Yes the principal has insisted on it but - with 30 years of teaching experience and multiple principals behind him he probably thinks it is a load of hooey and an over-reaction to a minor or imagined 'threat' and is ignoring it on purpose.  

Yes I know it is driving you bonkers, working with someone you consider to be a slack-o always does but you are off on maternity leave soon, school holidays are soon.... if it were me I'd let it slide.

I currently work in a toxic work environment - honestly, in fighting, 'dobbing' and sniping between staff is far worse than working around a slack colleague.

Trust me!

#19 bambiigrrl

Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:09 PM

QUOTE (Madame Catty @ 12/12/2012, 04:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
No I wouldn't say anything.  It all sounds pretty petty to me.  In two circumstances where senior student was in the classroom by herself, was Mr X even aware?

Are there sour grapes here?  Because it sure sounds like it.  Why is it your business if Mr X reprimands some of your colleagues for leaving students unsupervised?  Isn't that his role as supervisor?  Also not your business if he is often late.

Maybe you should be asking yourself why x 's behaviour bothers you so much that you wanna dob on him? How is it affecting you? how is it any of your business? why don't you just mind your own business? Take a chill pill maybe? He is obviously just very comfortable in his role and has been there forever and so feels he can bend the rules a little, so let him. It hasnt really got anything to do with you...I reckon just mind your own business and concentrate on your bubba thats almost here instead of worrying about what some work collegue is up to..

#20 protart roflcoptor

Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:15 PM

QUOTE (whoisme @ 12/12/2012, 05:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
OP, YOU have a Duty of Care to the students to report this, no matter what.  You know something is being done that shouldn't and it is your responsibility as a responsible adult to report it, whether anything thinks it is OTT or not is not the point.

Anything can happen in the absence of a teacher, fights, bullying etc. no matter what their age.

That's a sad indictment on the majority of senior students. I would have thought they were old enough to have earned a certain amount of trust and independence at that stage of their schooling.

#21 Feral_Pooks

Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:21 PM

Seriously? No. It's not your problem, no one in in danger except that teacher, so but out. I'm not one for "dobbing in" collegues who sidestep minor, silly rules, coz I do it too biggrin.gif

#22 OzeMum

Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:23 PM

Teachers don't supervise recess/lunch breaks do they?

Actually, yes they do.  Lunch/Recess duty must be covered.

In my experience students are usually able to work in the Library at Recess/Lunchtime, which also is a supervised area.

#23 Cath42

Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:26 PM

I am another one who finds it incredulous that high school students can not be left unsupervised in a classroom. I'm assuming that "senior students" are 15-18 years old? It wasn't unusual when I was at school for teachers to duck out now and then and leave us to our own devices. Of course, we didn't keep working; we mucked up from the minute the teacher left until the minute we saw the teacher on the way back. But nobody broke a limb, hit anyone or died.

Okay, the guy's a hypocrit and a pain in the a*se. But he probably sees that the rule is stupid and knows his students will be okay while he makes a phone call. I think what would annoy me is that he's imposing the rule on his colleagues but has another rule for himself. I'd let it go. Enjoy your mat leave and your new baby without worrying about having to be available as your complaint is followed up. By the time you get back to work, someone else will have reported him and it won't be your problem.

#24 applepie83

Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:28 PM

QUOTE (ossim roflcopter @ 12/12/2012, 05:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What a ridiculous over-reaction by the school.

Perhaps so, but still does not detract from the fact teachers cannot leave students unattended.

Students are supervised at all times on the school grounds, whether it be on the playground, in class, library, excursions...

Edited by applepie83, 12 December 2012 - 05:29 PM.

#25 protart roflcoptor

Posted 12 December 2012 - 05:29 PM

QUOTE (applepie83 @ 12/12/2012, 05:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Perhaps so, but still does not detract from the fact teachers can not leave students unattended.
Today Tonight and other nut jobs would be calling for blood.

I am a teacher and I would never leave a student unattended. Students are supervised at all times on the school grounds, whether it be on the playground, in class, library, excursions...

High school? Or are you a primary school teacher?

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