Thursday, 25 March 2010

Rules And Procedures Are Not Enough...

We all remember Patently Rubbish's classic case of the asthma attack that led to a fatality because the teachers stood around not doing anything because there was 'no medical policy in place', don't we?

Well, several of them, have now been suspended.

And I really, really hope the teachers at Manor School in Melksham, Wiltshire are paying attention:
A boy of five was left stranded in a tree at school because of a bizarre health and safety policy - which banned teachers from helping him down.

The mischievous pupil climbed the 20ft tree at the end of morning break and refused to come down.

But instead of helping him, staff followed guidelines and retreated inside the school building to ‘observe from a distance’ so the child would not get ‘distracted and fall’.
Oh, terrific. Tell me, do they have the same policy for other occurrences? A knife-wielding maniac? A dangerous dog loose in the playground?

So, what happened, while these concerned professionals, acting in loco parentis, were hiding in the staff room taking bets on whether he'd break his leg, arm or neck when he eventually fell out?

Well, a member of the public saw the lad and, lacking the finely honed instincts of the professional Guardian-reading classes thought 'Oh! Child, tree, that's not a good combination!'and simply helped him.

Was she thanked? Reader, she was not:
The boy was only rescued after 45 minutes in the tree when passer-by Kim Barrett, 38, noticed the child and helped him down herself.

But instead of being thanked for her actions by the headteacher of the Manor School in Melksham, Wiltshire, she was reported to the police for trespassing.
Just savor that for a moment...
‘I was immediately concerned. I walked over to the school with the boy and was met by the associate head.

‘He didn't appear at all concerned, and was actually very patronising, patting me on the arm and asking me “what do you expect me to do, exactly, dear?”

‘When I said I thought it was a serious incident, he then said his only concern was me trespassing.
And the police promptly passed this parcel of brown, smelly, ticking PR nightmare to the only people stupid enough to think it was a good idea to remonstrate with a concerned passer by for ensuring a five-year-old didn't break his neck:
Later that evening a letter from headteacher Beverley Martin was posted through Miss Barrett’s door, explaining that the school had contacted police about the incident.

The next morning she was visited by a PCSO who told her she had committed a trespassing offence by helping the young schoolboy down from the tree.
It would have to be a PCSO, wouldn't it?

And isn't it surprising that if you allow your own children to climb a roof, it's 'Go, go. go!' for the police, yet if your child's teacher does it, it's fine and 'within the guidelines'..?

Is a little consistency too much to ask?

H/T: commenter Jeff Wood

Update:C.J. Nerd in the comments points to a rebuttal from the school concerned. The real story, or hasty spin and ass-covering? The really sad thing is would anyone be surprised if the latter?

25 comments:

Antisthenes said...

This is just a simple case of an innocent bystander making the teachers look prats. So vengeance is mine sayeth the Headteacher and lo an behold she smote the bystander with a trespassing stick.

I am lost for words on describing how bad I feel about our teaching professionals and all the other professional; social workers, politicians, the list is endless. You can understand that people with low intellectual ability and poor education can act unreasonably and with poor judgment but when people of the caliber of teachers act in the same way then you know that there is something rotten in our society.

Mike said...

it will be interesting to see what charges if any are brought in light of the reported comments of the PCSO

Mike said...

update, none:

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said Kim was given a warning for “anti-social behaviour”.

He said: “It was simply a matter of a visit and a verbal warning.”

Umbongo said...

BTW, no-one will lose a job for this crass stupidity The school's "safety" policy will not change. The head mistress will stay in post. The plastic dildos masquerading as police in Wiltshire will continue milking the taxpayer. Nothing will change. Nothing will happen either side of the election because all the major parties support this kind of thing although they might be embarrassed for a nanosecond when the papers publicise a particularly egregious example.

Jeff Wood said...

Eighteen hours later, I am still fizzing about this.

I need the fingers of more than one hand to count the number of children I have extracted from trees, sometimes commenting freely - it's something that children do, bless 'em, but I am not quite as young as I used to be, and not as indifferent to heights.

If I were one of those teachers, I would have died in the night of shame. If I were the parent of one of their pupils, I would not trust them a moment longer with my child.

Pshaw, but thanks for the credit, my dear Julia, and I hope you thrive.

Chalcedon said...

She should have told the PCSO to bog off. Tespassing is a civil offense. Note the East European junkies living in people's gardens and sheds in Peterborough. The police can do nothing as it is a "civil" matter.

Mike said...

it appears that neither a crime or evidence are now required for the police to act, something I had suspected for some time

Weekend Yachtsman said...

She's lucky she was only done for trespassing.

If a man had been daft enough to help the lad, he'd have been on the sex offenders' register by now.

Chuckles said...

@Mike,

They know you are guilty of something, they just have to decide what.

It a modern variation of the old Inquisition approach, but I'm sure we will get to the 'Confess!' stage shortly.

Mike said...

@Chuckles

a sentiment bourne out by the opinion of one officer I recently asked to inform me of the difference between guilt and innocence in his reply, 'luck'

Dave H said...

Re. the asthma case.

On Radio 4 news yesterday evening, a representative from the school pointed out they have 'no statutary duty' to look after the pupils' health.

So why should they act if they are not compelled to do so by law?

sobers said...

@Chalcedon: a very good point. If the police are now prepared to intervene in civil cases of trespass, I shall expect the same when some unwanted 'guests' turn up on my land. And I'm covered by Wilts Constabulary so I may quote this case when they refuse to help.

Of course we have now reached the Alice in Wonderland position where laws mean precisely what the Righteous want them to mean and nothing else.

Mike said...

I have found that turning some of my land into a temporary river bed has worked in moving unwanted guests in the past. This is a much preferred method where the supply of water is not metered and the land supports structures that are locked and afford good drainage. Or fire. Perhaps both in either order might work well also.

Mike said...

tip, aviod drowning and burns.

Mike said...

Back on topic, watching a well fed cat chase a squirrel up a tree I noticed the cat got above its own safe height and then waited at the bottom of the tree for the squirrel.

DerekP said...

“what do you expect me to do, exactly, dear?”

Ooh, that's a tough one:
1 - do your job
OR
2 - set the police on the person who actually helped the child.

And the one he knew how to do was...

Anonymous said...

The police may not be bringing charges (on the grounds they'd be laughed out of court), but who'd like to bet that if Ms Barrett applies for a CRB check in future she's in line for a nasty shock......

Joe Public said...

Perhaps the child could sue the school for negligence in not preventing him being able to gain access to a dangerous place?

Only joking.

No, I'm not.

blueknight said...

closest offence is (or was) causing a nuisance on educational premises, but that probably would not fit the circumstances.
Nulabor has effectively made everything illegal or compulsory, there is no choice or discretion in anything for teachers, Police, or any public servant. And after 13 yrs of it many know no different.

CJ Nerd said...

Actually, it looks like this was bad journalism:

http://www.angrymob.uponnothing.co.uk/home/70-newspaper-lies/1032-really-bad-journalism

A quick Google on "Manor School Melksham" confirms that the school disagrees with the report.

KenS said...

Trespassing is a civil offence

Correct me if I'm wrong (I'm no lawyer), but there is no offence unless you fail to leave when asked to do so.... (think of salesmen calling at your house. They are not trespassing. But if you tell them you are not interested and tell them to go away, if they fail to do so they are now trespassing.) So... the bystander who rescued the child was never trespassing unless she was asked to leave and failed to do so.

JuliaM said...

"...a simple case of an innocent bystander making the teachers look prats. So vengeance is mine sayeth the Headteacher..."

Yes, I think there's certainly a good pinch of that here.

"Nothing will happen either side of the election because all the major parties support this kind of thing..."

It's one reason I'm not going to be voting for a major party.

"If I were one of those teachers, I would have died in the night of shame."

I think the lack of any capacity to feel shame is one of the requirement of modern teaching!

"On Radio 4 news yesterday evening, a representative from the school pointed out they have 'no statutary duty' to look after the pupils' health.

So why should they act if they are not compelled to do so by law?"


They have a duty of care, surely?

"If a man had been daft enough to help the lad, he'd have been on the sex offenders' register by now."

Indeed. Another thing to thank media panic and authoritarian whackjobs for!

"The police may not be bringing charges (on the grounds they'd be laughed out of court), but who'd like to bet that if Ms Barrett applies for a CRB check in future she's in line for a nasty shock......"

Certainly not me...

JuliaM said...

"A quick Google on "Manor School Melksham" confirms that the school disagrees with the report."

In the immortal words of some tart from the /sixties, 'They would, wouldn't they?' ;)

I'll throw up a link in case, though any site that lists Johann Hari in the sidebar under 'Thinkers' is clearly a bit of a waste of time!

DerekP said...

Love that sites unquestioning acceptance of what the school has put up - a revealing example of subservience to 'authority'.

The bottom line here is:
the teachers didn't know this kid was outside up a tree,
OR
they did, and were observing from somewhere remote enough they could not be of immediate assistance.
(Somewhere comfortable, nice cup of tea perhaps?)

Now this from the school PDFs,
The police have been informed about all three incidents involving the woman concerned and many of you will have noticed the additional police presence lately and the presence of staff on the school boundary,
sounds quite fucking serious, so what precisely are these three incidents and how come, if serious, she only gets a warning from a PCSO?

Or perhaps she hilighted a gap in the care provided by the teachers? I'm sure they'd be grateful (not!).

So any signs of spin?
The child was in no danger at any time and there was no chance that the woman would have been able to remove the child from the school premises.
Not only was he at least 6ft off the ground, but someone taller than me could easily have reached in from the pavement and plucked him off the branch.
Actually her description would explain why there would now be "presence of staff on the school boundary", while his contradicts this deployment.

And
when a member of the public came on to school property, approached a child and was intercepted by staff
looks like a teacher-protecting version of
I was immediately concerned. I walked over to the school with the boy and was met by the associate head.

Clearly this woman would have personally been better off by going first to the teachers, but this is a situation of the school's making.

As, for example,
When she was challenged as to how she had entered the school grounds, she became aggressive and promptly left, climbing over the same padlocked gate in the middle of school grounds that she had climbed to gain access.
‘You subsequently behaved in a verbally aggressive manner to a member of staff.’
1 - When challenged, she is legally obliged to leave the school property, which she apparently did.
2 - Ooh - she was 'aggressive', was she? Did she threaten or attack? No? Then this is clearly spin. Public servants have form for describing people as 'aggressive' simply because they're not getting their way in a verbal dispute.
3 - Well if the teachers didn't unlock the gate what choice did she have except to climb over it again when asked to leave? I'm not surprised she may have been a bit forthright when talking to this teacher.

dr cromarty said...

The next morning she was visited by a PCSO who told her she had committed a trespassing offence by helping the young schoolboy down from the tree.

Sorry PCSO, only a jury of one's peers can say whether or not an offence was committed. I hope she told the plastic copper to f*** off.