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Teacher Smacking


annaliesey
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First of all let me start by saying we are in the process of moving dance schools so that this horrible experience is behind us :)

 

My DD (age 11) has had a wonderful time with current dance school from age 3 up until about a year ago and things started to go downhill for all sorts of reasons. We persevered as DD "loved" her teachers and I felt a sense of loyalty in terms of working through issues.

 

 

We did have an incident of a smack about 8 months ago. I thought it was a one off and that the teacher had intended to tap her but hit her a bit harder than she meant to. It was with an object and it did leave a mark on her bottom cheek. My DD cried when I picked her up partly because it hurt and partly because she was so embarrassed as she felt she was stupid.

 

I talked with her at the time and she felt the teacher didn't mean to do it that hard. I was very prepared to take her out of the school at the time but somehow DD persuaded me not to make a fuss and promised me she would tell me again if there was ever another incident and in the meantime I had strong words with the teacher and told her not to ever hit my DD again.

 

The object that was used was not brought into the studio for a while but over the last two months has made a return! It was waved about, then used in an apparent joking way, then this escalated to gentle contact on offending parts of the body and then to a 'tap'.

 

Now as I have said we are in the process of moving. I won't tollerate bullying either physical or emotional. 

 

It turns out the emotional aspects are a lot worse than I had realised and I can see I am going to have a lot to do there to help her back to a sense of normality and self worth.

 

Anyway, as far as hitting and smacking goes, I am after advice on a) whether some people are OK about this in the ballet world (I had a mother say to me at the time of the first incident "that's how all the best students learn... something along the lines of look at China and Russia" and B) my DD has told me about other children who have been hit with offending object. Should I say anything to their mums or not.  I don't want to cause grief for the current dance school as quite frankly we are leaving, and want to leave this negativity behind us as quickly as possible but then I think if it was my daughter I would rather I knew.

 

I'm not sure

 

?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Actually, I'm rather horrified by this, and think that it might be illegal - and I wouldn't put up with it if it were my dd's school. As far as I know, no teacher in the UK is allowed to either smack a child or hit them with anything, even if it is done in a supposedly 'jokey' way.

 

From what you say, it appears to be being used almost as a threat, and is intimidating the students, and harming their self-esteem. Horrible.

 

Edited for spelling.

Edited by taxi4ballet
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Annaliesy, dh is a teacher at a vocational school & I used to run Childrens recreational performing arts classes.

 

If it came to our attention this had happened in either of our establishments it would be a serious child protection issue. There are struct guidelines with regards to touch, (always with consent & accompanied by an explanation ).

 

I would strongly reccomend that you report the incident(s) to the dance schools examining body assuming they are RAD/ISTD/IDTA etc affiliated.

 

These organisations have Child Protection policies & complsints procedures.

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Totally unacceptable! I feel sick that dance teachers adopt a bullying attitude and explain it away as 'that's the dance world'. My ds has had a couple of teachers in the past that I removed him from as I considered their teaching methods to be bullying and belittling, it happens quite a lot I'm afraid. Totally wrong and every parent should make a stand to protect their child. These wonderful, hard working, dedicated children will put up with a lot because they love their dancing. Parents have to step in and let their children know that such behaviour is out of order, so they know that it is acceptable to stand up for themselves, now and in later life.

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This is horrific.  It is actually illegal to smack another person's child and this applies to teachers and nursery school workers aswell - even with a bare hand let alone an object. This is not a question of being disloyal to the school - this teacher is in the wrong and no child should be subject to her.   I think you should be reporting this as pictures suggested - for the sake of your DD and others - even if it is quite daunting to do so.

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Tapping a muscle or body part lightly to demonstrate which "bit" should be engaging can be very useful in hypermobile students with low propriorception. My dd's lovely local teacher used to invite me to watch dd's private lessons because I gave her full permission to be completely hands on with dd and as a teacher she was more comfortable being hands on with me present.

 

However. "Tapping" with an object so hard that it leaves a mark and causes pain is completely unacceptable, in my opinion. It could even be reported as an assault. What did the teacher say when you discussed it with her? Did she apologise? Did she say she had not meant to "tap" that hard?

 

Personally I wouldn't tell all the other parents unless they ask why you are leaving, because there's nothing worse than the "playground mafia" playing Chinese Whispers - but if you did not get any sort of satisfactory explanation from the teacher, I would certainly speak with the RAD/ISTD/IDTA if the school is affiliated with any such organisation.

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Definitely a no-no and was particularly disturbed it was on the face

 

Children learn best when there is a structured but encouraging atmosphere. It's amazing how a level can be brought up in a class by a few "well dones" and "fantastic work today" and with an energetic but joyful approach!

 

This teacher was given a chance by you and now needs to be taken to account. Perhaps she is not aware of current policy but it is illegal to smack another persons child and could in fact be prosecuted .....though usually better handled from an educational approach.

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I wouldn't discuss this with the other parents at the moment. I would however be tempted to discuss this with the child protection officer locally or the NSPCC for advice and not take my child back for any classes.

If we heard a teacher in a school was doing this we would be up in arms. Just because she is a dance teacher does not make it ok.

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This is assault. And regardless of whether this sort of thing is accepted in other countries, or in this country in years gone by, it is definitely not Ok. Hitting hard enough to leave a mark, or with an implementation are both illegal, even for your own child. If a child went into school and told their teacher that their parents had done this then it would definitely be considered a serious safeguarding issue. I am absolutely horrified that anyone entrusted with the care of children would behave in this way. I would report this behaviour - it's completely unacceptable and illegal.

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Absolutely unacceptable. She must have been hit quite hard as bottoms don't bruise easily, not to mention the psychological bullying aswell. I would give the school a chance to do the right thing (and the only correct thing imo would be to dismiss her) but if they don't then yes I think you should tell other parents so that they can protect their children.

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This is the 21st century.

 

No dance teacher any where should be using such appalling methods.

 

The best students do not learn this way, they are crushed.

 

Now I've been around a long time, in vocational training myself and then my son. And yes I've witnessed many examples of poor teaching but NEVER physical assault either threatened or actual. As a young teacher 25 years ago I was mortified when "a tap" on the bottom was too hard. Fortunately both child and mother accepted my apologies and I have been ultra careful ever since. But it seems that this teacher is actually threatening to hit her pupils!

 

This teacher should be reported.

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Thanks everyone :) that clears up the feeling around this!

 

Good to hear this from a range of people who have been involved teaching or supporting children with ballet for different lengths of time. I feel so bad for dd and should never have let her continue there.

 

It's not just my DD that has been hit. There are several others that I know of over the last 2 years or so. It may have been harder than she intended 8 months ago when I spoke to her. She did say it was meant as a "smack" but not that hard! And she is not staff, she's the principal.

 

Other staff there are very quick to tease, threaten ie; get taken out of dances, scream, humiliate. It's this stuff that has bothered dd more.

 

I was on the phone to a mum last night who changed a year ago from the school we were at to the school we are going to and during the conversation her dd mentioned being smacked too. Her mum was horrified that she hadnt said anything before. Her dd explained she didn't really think it was so wrong at the time and she was more bothered by the emotional things too.

 

So sad to hear my dd talk along the lines of "she does it because she loves us!"..... How those lines get blurred!!

 

There's one girl in particular who I don't know whether to tell her mum. The girl is in counselling with the school for bullying related issues and has given up ballet completely. I'm just not sure whether it would help to know or add to their problems

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This is a really difficult situation but I think you have a responsibility here to the other children. 

What she is accused of doing is illegal and abusive. 

You may not feel able to discuss directly with the parents but either way I think you need some professional advice.

I would probably ring the nspcc advice line as they will talk it through with you. Other options might be to ring children's social care or the local police. 

The fact this has happened in a dance school is irrelevant really x 

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Firstly I would leave the girl with the bullying issues and her mum out of this. They have enough problems and the counsellor will be working with her on a programme, you don't want to mess around with that.

 

I would urge you to contact the NSPCC or child protection ASAP. I have spoken to NSPCC when I was concerned about something at dd school, they were helpful and offered to intervene if I didn't feel I could escalate my concerns. I just wanted clarification about the law before speaking to the principal. As you know this behaviour is going on, both the emotional and physical abuse, my feeling is by knowing and not escalating to the appropriate authorities you are putting others at risk and will feel awful if the 'smack' becomes more and lasting physical damage occurs. Lasting psychological damage may already of occurred to a number of these children.

 

NSPCC is a free phone number and your call can be in confidence. Please don't let this behaviour continue. Child protection is all of our responsibility and not just that of our own off spring.

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I would certainly agree with the others that this is assault and a safeguarding issue and should be reported. I am so sorry that this has happened to you and it must be very traumatic.

I think having a chat with NSPCC or other professional, social services will have helpline as well. If she was found guilty of this I am afraid this would probably be the end of her career but as some stated above you have to also think of the other children in her care. 

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Ok I'll ring NSPCC today :)

 

To be honest I wasn't sure of the law and had tried googling answers without success

 

It's only now that I have written an email to her complaining formally about bullying practises that we have considered everything that we believe is harmful. Crazy how we were sucked in to thinking it was acceptable in the context of dance

 

:(

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Speaking to the NSPCC sounds sensible. They will have experience of this sort of thing and will be able to advise on the best way forwards. I probably wouldn't say anything to individual parents at this stage, unless they are closer friends with whom you feel comfortable sharing your worries otherwise. I think you are doing the right thing in speaking to professionals.

I don't claim any great expertise in the field but from the safeguarding training I have done at work, the sort of things you are describing would be without any shadow of a doubt the kind of things I would be expected to report onwards if a child shared them with me.

I know it's hard when your child feels a loyalty to the teacher and the school but you are absolutely doing the right thing. This kind of behaviour is not acceptable in any setting.

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I wonder if Dance teachers get out of the loop with current practices which teachers in general education would have all had extra training in?

This teacher (and maybe applies to all Dance teachers) may need further education and then monitoring for a while(officially) rather than have her career taken away. Though how this is done in the Dance world I have no idea. I would have thought that a teacher who has trained with a recognised Body eg RAD would have received some such training on the course but again don't know if this is true.

 

I would feel only if she refused to co operate should she be dismissed as such.

 

Having said this I have to say I do find it extraordinary that any Dance teacher should feel the need to be so heavy handed!! What on earth would they do faced with 35 pupils some with some pretty severe emotional difficulties etc.

In one sense a dance class is a "captive audience".....they usually all want to be there and want to learn what's on offer. It shouldn't be THAT difficult to teach them!!

 

A good dance teacher should have all the individual needs of her comparatively few pupils in mind and be looking to reward any sign that they are working to improve on what has been pointed out to them. This means almost literally having eyes in the back of ones head so you notice as much as possible and then praise as much as possible whenever you can......sometimes individuals sometimes the whole class.

Often in a dance class there is only 45 mins to an hour so there's no time for anything else and particularly no time for the teacher to be parading his/ her ego around.

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