There was a kid who joined the school with the new intake, I’ll call him John. Like all newbies John was quite compliant to start with. We were obviously a bit on our guard as John had a brother (I say brother, but the family connections were quite complex) in the year above who was a bit of a handful. He was on the suspensions leader board and probably heading for the early long bath. So, whilst you don’t assume because one brother is a bit of a lad the other automatically will be, you are, as I say, on your guard.
A few weeks went by and nothing. We were wrong, we all thought.
But no, eventually the detentions started. First they came from just a couple of teachers but soon it was across the board. Perhaps it was a settling in issue? Mum came in, usual discussions, a few days calm, and then, yes, you’ve guessed it, the detentions again, mainly for disruptive behaviour in class.
This continued until the first suspension (for that was what we called them back in the day) became an inevitability. And it happened. When he came back in for the re-introduction interview he was as nice as pie. Contrite. John was also a bright lad, which showed when you talked to him one to one. When he knuckled down and worked he succeeded. Seemed butter wouldn’t melt.
But it did. More detentions. Call outs. Followed by the longer suspension. Followed by the re-introduction interview…yada yada yada. You’ve all heard the story. Despite all the help and support he was given John seemed has an issue with authority and controlling his anger.
Eventually he started running with his brothers’ gang and was in trouble almost all the time. Every intervention you could think of we tried. His tutor and head of year, brilliant though they were, were starting to reach the end of their respective tethers. As was the Head. John was causing way too much disruption in his classes for this to be ignored and allowed to continue. Mum couldn’t understand it either. She blamed us. He was a good lad in middle school, with none of these problems at all, it was our fault for letting him get away with it. Our fault for provoking it. Why couldn’t he move classes away from the teachers who were causing the problem?
So, we did what we could do then to try to avoid a permanent exclusion. Shh, don’t tell anyone. We sent him on his holidays early. We thought, get him out of the environment, give him a break, and start again when he comes back. Last chance saloon. We told mum this was the final warning.
A few days into the “early holiday” we got a phone call from mum, in tears. John was in the hospital. He’d been diagnosed with a brain tumour. He’d been taken straight in, operated on, then eventually home. Fortunately caught early enough. The prognosis was good.
John came back to school.
I never heard of him again.