Jump to content

Bullying at vocational school


NotadanceMa
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello all

 

my child is a new boarder at one of the main vocational schools doing ballet.

They have just experience systematic bullying by one of the existing students. Started small, leading to some IMHO some seriously not ok incidents.

It has been dealt with. I don’t know how it has been dealt with as I am not allowed to know, but I have been informed it has.

 There was no mention of any supportive care for my child following what has happened. I did ask and was told a chat with the house parents could be arranged.

Am I expecting too much from the school, is this fairly usual?

I have read their policies, they say one thing which does not seem to align with reality.

I cannot outline the incidents as they would make the school and my child recognisable on here, or the school year.

im trying to be very cautious. 

Edited by Anna C
Title edited by Moderator
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, NotadanceMa said:

Hello all

 

my child is a new boarder at one of the main vocational schools doing ballet.

They have just experience systematic bullying by one of the existing students. Started small, leading to some IMHO some seriously not ok incidents.

It has been dealt with. I don’t know how it has been dealt with as I am not allowed to know, but I have been informed it has.

 There was no mention of any supportive care for my child following what has happened. I did ask and was told a chat with the house parents could be arranged.

Am I expecting too much from the school, is this fairly usual?

I have read their policies, they say one thing which does not seem to align with reality.

I cannot outline the incidents as they would make the school and my child recognisable on here, or the school year.

im trying to be very cautious. 

I’m so sorry for you and your child. I’m confused as to why you are not allowed to know how the school has dealt with the bullying. Also, why has there been no support offered ? In our experience the school played incidence / things down and liked to keep things very low key and in-house. You are correct that some policies don’t fit in with reality, take a look at the disordered eating one, if they have one, our schools was laughable. But we certainly weren’t laughing. 
I hope your child is ok, I really feel for you both xx

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apparently confidentiality is the reason. I don’t care, but I do because some of what happened was IMO serious and I would have liked to know how this would be prevented from happening again.

my child ok now, but was very down and overwhelmed a couple of weeks ago.

For the school it is case closed and I have been told they have taken it ‘very seriously indeed’ but this does not match reality.

Feels very wrong footing, the subtext is leave this alone now.

Worries me going forward for my child TBH. And Thankyou @cotes du rhone !x

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sadly from our experience the schools idea or dealing with it and your expectations are probably a world apart. I would try to nip it in the bud with a letter/email to the principal that is copied to head of pastoral care, house parent, form teacher and if you feel necessary the head of governors. I would detail the incidents and ask for a detailed written response on how the matter was dealt with and how they will reassure you that your child and others will not experience this behaviour again. 
My Dd suffered and although I spoke to pastoral staff no one made her form teacher or dance staff aware until I mentioned it at a parents evening. I did have to escalate events until I had senior management involved. 
I’m sorry your child and you have suffered bullying, it is extra hard when they are away from you. 

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Anna C changed the title to Bullying at vocational school

I know it’s really hard that feeling of raising your head above the parapet will have consequences for your child but believe me you need to. Read through any policies and be ready to point them out to the staff. And keep copies of everything. 

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm so sorry to hear about this, anything like this must be extra difficult when your child is boarding. I just wanted to balance things slightly by saying that not being told how the situation is being dealt with in terms of what sanctions the bully is specifically being given may be standard in school now - my older dd experienced a nasty incident at her state school last year and the school were not able to inform us of what was being done specifically in regards to the other child. (I'm not 100% sure if this was because they were raising a safeguarding concern about the other child however because of the nature of the incident). In our case I have trust in the school built up over a few years and felt that they were as open and honest with us as they could be and we haven't had any further problems but it was of course much easier with dd at home for me to be assured of her welfare. I really feel for you because it's very difficult with any new school to have this trust of course. You may have to focus your approach on how your own child's welfare is being handled and what measures the school are taking generally rather than specifically what they have done to deal with this particular bully...

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 minutes ago, AmandaBallet said:

I'm so sorry to hear about this, anything like this must be extra difficult when your child is boarding. I just wanted to balance things slightly by saying that not being told how the situation is being dealt with in terms of what sanctions the bully is specifically being given may be standard in school now - my older dd experienced a nasty incident at her state school last year and the school were not able to inform us of what was being done specifically in regards to the other child. (I'm not 100% sure if this was because they were raising a safeguarding concern about the other child however because of the nature of the incident). In our case I have trust in the school built up over a few years and felt that they were as open and honest with us as they could be and we haven't had any further problems but it was of course much easier with dd at home for me to be assured of her welfare. I really feel for you because it's very difficult with any new school to have this trust of course. You may have to focus your approach on how your own child's welfare is being handled and what measures the school are taking generally rather than specifically what they have done to deal with this particular bully...


Yes, this is standard in most schools. You can and should be told what is happening to stop it happening again and how your child can be supported, but you won’t be told what consequences there have been for the other child. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am a school governor and can confirm that it is usual for the perpetrator and how they have been dealt with to remain confidential.

 

If you are not happy with the school’s response, I would suggest speaking to the principal; not a formal letter to them but a physical meeting.  Verbal communication in person is much better for reassuring people and there is less opportunity for misunderstandings.

 

If you are still not happy, I’d suggest the same with the chair of governors or the safeguarding lead (whose details should be available on the school’s website).

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

If you are not happy with the school’s response, I would suggest speaking to the principal; not a formal letter to them but a physical meeting.  Verbal communication in person is much better for reassuring people and there is less opportunity for misunderstandings. 

Personally I think it is worth doing both - write detailing what your worries are and request a meeting. And then requesting a letter outlining what was discussed and agreed at the meeting. When you are discussing your child it is hard not to become emotional especially if some of your concerns are being dismissed or normalised by some members of the team. If a plan is agreed and it’s in writing there can be no doubt among the staff what their responsibilities are. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I would just echo that many of us "on the other side" wish we had raised our heads.   With hindsight we were, effectively, condoning the behaviour by not challenging the support given, or not given, to our DC.  

 

Make sure you know the school policies inside out and you can, in a non-confrontational way, ask to understand how they are being implemented to support your child.  

 

Good luck!

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Jane - if it were me I would contact the principal and others in writing (so that it is documented) and possibly phone them and ask to arrange a meeting in addition, maybe when you collect your child for half term? If you aren’t allowed to know how they have dealt with the bully, you are surely entitled to ask for clarification of what support your child will receive and from whom and that they have put in place measures to prevent recurrence for your child or for any other child.
I would also include in the letter that boarding school is a new experience for you and for your child and that their confirmation of how things are being dealt with in relation to caring for your child and prevention of recurrence will understandably go a long way to reassure you and your child and help them settle. If you think it would help, couch it in terms of suggesting that you are possibly being over-anxious (I stress that I don’t think you are being over-anxious at all, but it won’t hurt to put the ‘blame’ for your wanting assurances as to how it is being dealt with onto yourself, rather than your child) to ensure that you and your child are reassured simply because they are already dealing with settling into a new school and boarding life. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry to hear that you and your child have had such a difficult start to Year 7 NotadanceMa.

My dancing child didn't go to a lower school so I have no direct experience but I think the best piece of advice I have ever read on the topic wason this forum and it is simply that we should not accept from a vocational school anything that we would not tolerate in a regular academic school. Now that can be easier said than done for a whole host of reasons, but I think it is very sound advice.

It is true that the school cannot divulge information about the perpetrators to you, but what they can and should do is tell you what they are doing for your child. One of my (non dancing) children was bullied in year 7 and I had multiple conversations with school staff on the subject. Never once was the bully mentioned but I was told things like "X has been allocated a student mentor" "X may spend breaks in the Student Support Centre and can bring a friend for company if they wish" and "We are putting a member of staff on the bus to monitor behaviour and ensure X feels safe to and from school". I had to take it on trust that appropriate measures were taken for the other child involved but that wasn't my business or my concern really, but the support being provided for my child most definitely was. "It's sorted" isn't an acceptable answer in my opinion. You can't be there for your child so you need reassurance that the school is providing necessary care. I would try to have a video call or at least a phone call with the member of staff responsible for pastoral care if I were you. I hope things get resolved quickly - nothing is more important than your chiid's well being.

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had a good read of the schools policies around bullying, they are extensive, yet all rather vague.

I emailed for clarification again to pastoral care and the reply was rather vague.

what is missing for me as a parent, is not the sanctions for the other child, but a clear pathway of support for the other child.

my child isn’t Y7, they are older but new to boarding and full-time vocational training.

I can already hear from them that the student culture is quite a toxic one on many levels. 
My child is unused to competing in an arena where a great many children are in a system jostling to be the best and to be favourites. I have lots of misgivings about the culture at vocational schools, it must definitely works for a great many children, but for me it is a perfect breeding ground for bullying in all areas. Nonetheless my child is there, that’s where they wanted to be.

my close friend whose child is longer in vocational than mine said that these schools run on a business model and are in the business of ‘CYAs’ which when I asked her what that meant, she said doing anything it takes to cover your ass from litigation and the possibility of being sued.

It is something I think I will have to adjust to as much as my child.

They are ok, one of the houseparents has been absolutely fantastic, but not in an official part of a support way.

I am just relieved that my child is atm ok it was a nasty carry on and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Thankyou all for your replies. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

27 minutes ago, NotadanceMa said:

cover your ass from litigation and the possibility of being sued.

 

You betcha. Whether a school is privately run (as vocational schools are) or not, you can find yourself thinking you are in a dialogue with a school, when in fact what it is being said to you is based on drafting by lawyers, working with insurers.

 

So sorry for your experience. Stay alert; keep written records (like diary notes of meetings and what eg your child tells you); keep copies of everything you send and which is sent to you; and don't let yourself be fobbed off. Not every school - whatever it says on the website - has entered the 21st century when it comes to pastoral care.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Geoffthis I now know is how things are for sure and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves IMVHO.

Fortunately I work in independent advocacy with statutory bodies and keeping notes and copies and paper trails is what at least is very familiar to me. Just took a moment to reframe my thinking with vocational training schools. Thanks though for your transparency.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, NotadanceMa said:

@Geoffthis I now know is how things are for sure and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves IMVHO.

Fortunately I work in independent advocacy with statutory bodies and keeping notes and copies and paper trails is what at least is very familiar to me. Just took a moment to reframe my thinking with vocational training schools. Thanks though for your transparency.


Just to say, you presumably noticed this parallel discussion (making points perhaps relevant to your situation):

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I completely understand your anger and frustration @NotadanceMa.  However I think there are some positives you can take from the situation.

 

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, your child spoke to you about what was happening. 

 

Secondly, they are OK now (for now) and the situation seems to have calmed down.

 

As others have suggested, keep a close eye on what is going on, keep the lines of communication with your child open and watch for changes in behaviour or personality which might indicate that they are being pushed too far by the situation.

 

You may find that after the initial culture shock your child thrives at their new school.

 

If not - there are always alternatives, whether it is another vocational school, or high quality home based training.

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, glowlight said:

I completely understand your anger and frustration @NotadanceMa.  However I think there are some positives you can take from the situation.

 

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, your child spoke to you about what was happening. 

 

Secondly, they are OK now (for now) and the situation seems to have calmed down.

 

As others have suggested, keep a close eye on what is going on, keep the lines of communication with your child open and watch for changes in behaviour or personality which might indicate that they are being pushed too far by the situation.

 

You may find that after the initial culture shock your child thrives at their new school.

 

If not - there are always alternatives, whether it is another vocational school, or high quality home based training.

 

 

 

 

The bottom line of what you said is of course true, glowlight. But isn't this part of the problem? That if someone isn't happy at a place for whatever reason they can always leave. If it's a top vocational school there will probably be a thousand more than happy to replace them. But then what at the institution will ever change? 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jan McNulty
Edited to move Lisa's post out of the quote so it is easier to read
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, Lisa O`Brien said:

 

 

But isn't this part of the problem? That if someone isn't happy at a place for whatever reason they can always leave. If it's a top vocational school there will probably be a thousand more than happy to replace them. But then what at the institution will ever change? 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow - that is such a good point Lisa, one that I hadn't really considered as I was looking at it more from the point of view of the bullied child and their family.  

 

I can understand why people might not want to fight the system while inside the system.  So how can change happen?  Could parent groups get together to lobby the schools, so that it is less personal?  

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's very difficult Glowlight.

This is always this risk when demand massively outstrips supply. Sports, exclusive academic schools, prestigous University courses,top jobs.....anywhere it could be said that "you're lucky to be here " or that " we could replace you tomorrow " there is great pressure not to speak up about anything negative. A of fear of losing something you've worked hard for and guilt at seeming to lack gratitude make a very potent combination that often ensures silence from both students and parents.

There isn't an easy answer. Those who have been brave enough to speak out are deserving of all our support and I think the fact that more people are doing so is a very big step in the right direction.

Something that I think the whole of the dance world needs is more honesty and transparency. It is very difficult  as nobody wants to stamp on a child's dream  but more information about the reality of the profession is needed, and not just about the chances of getting into a vocational school, but what happens when you get out. What is the reality of grad destinations? How many of the apprenticeships and pre professional years with companies actually result in paid contracts? "Past students have performed with......." often sounds impressive but what does it really mean? How many past pupils, for how long and it what capacity. What is the outcome for the majority, not just the top few students in each year? 

I'd like to see more transparency around physical requirements. I know it is an incredibly sensitive issue but the reality is that, like some sports and other pursuits, there are specific physical requirements and sometimes "no" does mean ""no, rather than "not yet" .Often people just want to be kind, but I wish I had had more objective information when my DD was young.

On the other hand, I think another thing we parents can do is to share positive messages about our children's lives post dance school. There is a tendency to view a career with a classical company as the only successful outcome and if that doesn't happen we often slink away, feeling slightly embarrassed, ashamed even, because news of our DCs doesn't seem "worthy". It is though, and other parents need to hear it so they can make properly informed decisions. It also potentially helps empower students. We need our young peopke to know that there is more than one valid outcome, and that it isn't only the future principal dancers who matter and are worthy of decent treatment.

My DD is a teacher now by the way. She's completed her RAD teacher training, has recently opened her own school and loves working with young childre. I am very, very proud of her. There are some things I would do differently if I had my time again, but overall positives outweigh the negatives and I don't see this as failure. We need to make sure that young dancers know that they all matter and are not powerless - then those who may wish to control or abuse them will not have the power to do so.

 

  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, Pups_mum said:

I think it's very difficult Glowlight.

This is always this risk when demand massively outstrips supply. Sports, exclusive academic schools, prestigous University courses,top jobs.....anywhere it could be said that "you're lucky to be here " or that " we could replace you tomorrow " there is great pressure not to speak up about anything negative. A of fear of losing something you've worked hard for and guilt at seeming to lack gratitude make a very potent combination that often ensures silence from both students and parents.

There isn't an easy answer. Those who have been brave enough to speak out are deserving of all our support and I think the fact that more people are doing so is a very big step in the right direction.

Something that I think the whole of the dance world needs is more honesty and transparency. It is very difficult  as nobody wants to stamp on a child's dream  but more information about the reality of the profession is needed, and not just about the chances of getting into a vocational school, but what happens when you get out. What is the reality of grad destinations? How many of the apprenticeships and pre professional years with companies actually result in paid contracts? "Past students have performed with......." often sounds impressive but what does it really mean? How many past pupils, for how long and it what capacity. What is the outcome for the majority, not just the top few students in each year? 

I'd like to see more transparency around physical requirements. I know it is an incredibly sensitive issue but the reality is that, like some sports and other pursuits, there are specific physical requirements and sometimes "no" does mean ""no, rather than "not yet" .Often people just want to be kind, but I wish I had had more objective information when my DD was young.

On the other hand, I think another thing we parents can do is to share positive messages about our children's lives post dance school. There is a tendency to view a career with a classical company as the only successful outcome and if that doesn't happen we often slink away, feeling slightly embarrassed, ashamed even, because news of our DCs doesn't seem "worthy". It is though, and other parents need to hear it so they can make properly informed decisions. It also potentially helps empower students. We need our young peopke to know that there is more than one valid outcome, and that it isn't only the future principal dancers who matter and are worthy of decent treatment.

My DD is a teacher now by the way. She's completed her RAD teacher training, has recently opened her own school and loves working with young childre. I am very, very proud of her. There are some things I would do differently if I had my time again, but overall positives outweigh the negatives and I don't see this as failure. We need to make sure that young dancers know that they all matter and are not powerless - then those who may wish to control or abuse them will not have the power to do so.

 

You are so so right in every thing you have said. 
I found a lack of transparency and honesty during our daughter’s ballet journey. From the school and others who had gone before us. I wanted to share our story, the good and the bad. Like a majority of her year group she isn’t dancing professionally or at all actually. But is having an amazing time at University. It’s all she dreamed it would be and doesn’t regret her decision to stop ballet for one second. Most post vocational children don’t go onto have a full on professional career but that in no way means that they are unsuccessful or have failed. I don’t think the schools feel like this as they only seem too celebrate the small number of those who follow that pathway. And even that is a bit distorted or exaggerated in our experience too. The rest just disappear. In my children’s schools eyes, Ds is a wonderful, brag about success, and Dd doesn’t even get a mention on the grad destination list. Yet to us she is a survivor and a shining example of courage and determination to pursue another pathway. It’s the schools loss. They are missing a real opportunity to celebrate and be proud of all their students no matter what they choose to do post graduation. I would be happy to return to my children’s ballet school and talk honestly to prospective parents about our journey and outcome but I don’t think they would have me 🤣 Not attempting to portray perfection would I feel help them in improving the experience of their students. 

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree about transparency. It’s all but impossible to work out destinations and results. So x girls graduated to the school’s upper school or y boys got a contract? How many were there from year 7? How many joined for the last year or two? How many received outside coaching? Impossible to work out. 
 

I think Tring’s new website is a good example of how all students are celebrated whether they end up in the performing arts studying or wherever else.   

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 minutes ago, Whiteduvet said:

I agree about transparency. It’s all but impossible to work out destinations and results. So x girls graduated to the school’s upper school or y boys got a contract? How many were there from year 7? How many joined for the last year or two? How many received outside coaching? Impossible to work out. 
 

I think Tring’s new website is a good example of how all students are celebrated whether they end up in the performing arts studying or wherever else.   

Just ask a grad parent. They can decider the “ successfully secured a contract with ……….” which is in reality a trainee place that costs $ 10,000 a year. It’s still something to be celebrated and proud of but the next generation of parents need to know that the cost just rolls in after graduation for a majority of students. If others are honest and share then they can be prepared for the reality of the road ahead. I wish we had been warned. 
I like Trings approach to celebrating all their students 🥳 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree @cotes du rhone !

I think the schools actually shoot themselves in the foot by not promoting what their pupils actually achieve.  At present it seems like all students and parents are, initially at least, allowed to believe that they're going to be professional dancers. The relatively few who achieve that are feted by the schools and everyone else slips away quietly. It's almost like the schools consider that they themselves are failures if they don't produce 100% professional ballet dancers, and that people won't send their children there if they are honest about the outcomes.

But it's just the way things are - the world doesn't need that many ballet dancers and job opportunities are scarce. Personally I would have a lot of respect for any school which gave realistic information about the probability of a classical career and which was able to "sell" to me the benefits of an education there inspite of that. I would like to hear that attendance at School X optimises the slim chances of a classical career but that the school also produces happy, well rounded graduates who are successful in a wide range of other careers, and every student is equally valued. Dance has so many transferable skills and is worthwhile in it's own right, not just as a paid career. I think that this tendency to define success only as a classical performing career actually devalues a dance education and indeed dance itself, which is terriblysad really.

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Pups_mum said:

 

But it's just the way things are - the world doesn't need that many ballet dancers and job opportunities are scarce.

 

 

And I'm afraid that dance is far from the only vocational training which results in far more potential applicants than there are job opportunities :(

Of my own vocational training course, last century, I only know of perhaps 1/3 of my coursemates who are still in the profession we trained for.  One went on to become a tax consultant - and was probably earning rather more money than we were!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was just thinking about the situation my sister and her husband in Manchester find themselves in. My brother in law, just turned 60, has Alzheimer's Disease and has been living FT at a care home for the last year. They each, individually, have an Advocate that is there for them. The Advocates are completely separate from the care home/NHS/Social Services, but give Sue and her husband a voice ( especially my sister) when it seems everyone else in "the system" is up against them. Perhaps vocational schools/parent groups of students, could set up their own independent advocacy service; as a kind of go-between,  between  parents and students who may have a grievance and the school themselves. I hear a lot on here about how wonderful some Vocational School's house parents are. Yet others seem to be not very good or effective at all. Maybe some are like this because they too are "part of the system?" An independent Advocate, coming from neither the school nor the family might make any complaints or issues more transparent and easier to deal with.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...