What do you do when the Local Authority are in school, and a child from your class has literally just jumped down onto the other side of the school gate, which is locked!?
I’ll tell you what I did. I closed my eyes and waited to hear a car screech. And when I heard it, I stopped breathing for 10-15 seconds until the site manager unlocked the gate and I could see that he was, in fact, safe and sound. He was safe and sound…and climbing into his mother’s car!
Talk about perfect timing. She had literally just driven past the school to see him running out of the school premises.
The morning had started off slightly stressful, with the Local Authority arriving in school, teachers, around me, flapping like flamingos and a maths lesson I was expecting this child to run out of, but he didn’t. He saved the running until playtime, when a child said something to him that he didn’t like, or loooked at him in a way he didn’t like. Whatever the trigger was, it had nothing to do with the maths lesson. He had completed his work and gone outside to play in a reasonably happy mood.
During playtime, he had started wandering around the school field, so the teacher on duty sent a child in to tell me. I walked out and calmly tried to walk over to him, but the closer I got, the further he was moving away from me, in the same direction. He legged it around the corner so I pegged it down the pathway. I got to the KS2 playground and couldn’t see him anywhere, until he poked his cheeky head out from behind a wall on the other side. I walked across the playground and tried to get to a point where I could talk to him. He headed towards the gate and I began to see terrifying scenarios flash in front of me. I didn’t want him to climb the gate so I held back. I tried to talk to him, but I was too far away. I had to walk closer towards him.
I edged closer and closer until he began scaling the gate. It was like a scene from Spider-Man. He nimbly rose up the metal meshing and perched on the top, with a leg on either side of the gate. He let me walk closer towards him, but was obviously intent on ignoring anything I said.
After advising him to climb down from the gate so he could be safe, I didn’t want him to hurt himself, he did just as I wanted him to. I wanted him to get down from the gate. I had failed to instruct him as to which side of the gate to get down from, which I had realised, when he jumped down onto the other side and my heart physically dropped into my stomach.
Later on, his mum was in the headteacher’s office, having a conversation about why this had happened and what would happen next. I felt awful. As a self depreciating critic, I had only myself to blame. I had followed him, I had asked him to get down. I hadn’t told him which side to get down on. I hadn’t climbed over the gate myself, in order to chase after him. I hadn’t kept him safe. It was all my fault. But my supportive network of colleagues reminded me that it wasn’t my fault at all. He wasn’t a school loving child. He didn’t like following rules. He was a slippery eel. He wasn’t used to having an authoratitive teacher enforcing school rules upon him. He had already escaped from school once before, but the local authority were not in school on that particular day.
Because of that particular incident, on that particular day, every class in school was given a walky talky so that teachers and staff could communicate with each other, regarding incidents similar to this. And boy did I need the walky talky with that boy. He was a frequent runner. In fact, he still is. I’d chase him around school, calling for help and trying my hardest to keep him locked within school. In the months that I taught him, I felt less like a teacher and more like a prison guard. I also lost quite a few pounds in weight due to chasing him up and down the corridors. Every cloud has a silver lining I suppose.