So, You’re the SENCO!
It’s surprising how long little tasks can take.
The mug of tea was already cold, and both staff and students were beginning to arrive. Staff were expected by 8:30 am, students from 8:45 am with registration at 8:55 am. By 8:15, the office and yard outside were buzzing.
Any minute now, students would begin to appear in the office.
Mrs Nest had learned in the first few weeks not to plan anything that urgently required concentration from 8:15 to 8:55. She could guarantee something would come up to demand her attention.
Last Monday, it was a jammed photocopier. OK, technically not her role, but she had a magic touch and usually managed to resolve the issue rapidly. Staff were generally ungrateful, though, demanding to know how long she would be messing about or could she, “Just run off 30 double-sided sets of this 50-page document with stapling. Thanks, I’ll just go and get myself a coffee.”
Tuesday last week, one of the more vulnerable students sheepishly crept into the office and whispered, “I think he’s dead.”
Mrs Nest was rummaging through the filing cabinet trying to locate a replacement Aqua overlay for the fourth time since starting had asked, “Who dear?”
“Boris,” replied the student in his usual flat and monotonous tone. Mrs Nest knew better than to make assumptions at this point.
“We ran him over yesterday, and dad said we could leave him. I went past this morning and… look, miss…”
Mrs Nest glanced over, assuming she would be looking at an image on a phone.
The student proudly presented her with a very dead, half-consumed, headless cat. It took every element of her being not to scream, puke or run, although all three options at once were highly desirable.
“Yeah, I agree. I think Boris is dead. Just drop him in that box, and I’ll sort him out later.” She pointed to an empty photocopier paper box next to her desk.
The student duly dumped Boris in the box after giving him a kiss, and Mrs Nest composed herself enough to shout, “Wash your hands,” followed by muttering, “and your mouth.”
Wednesday had been a whole staff briefing. Some were useful, but more often than not they were something that could be sent by email, which was more likely to be heeded, or they were dominated by those staff who like their own voice and use 15 paragraphs over 3 minutes to say something that takes 30 seconds and five words. Mrs Nest had an intense dislike of the briefings as they regularly overrun their allotted time, and that meant she had to leave her office unattended and therefore unstaffed for those students who needed her. Besides this, it seemed to be the same information on replay. Occasionally, even before becoming the SENCO, she had wondered if it was a case of Groundhog Day.
This week was no exception. The head of PE was waffling on about the football match year 8 had won on Monday. Instead of, “please say well done to the year 8 football team for winning the first match of the season.” They were subjected to what felt like a minute-by-minute breakdown of the entire match.
Mrs Nest needed to share that the local authority behaviour support team would be in this week to observe a group of troublesome year 10s, but as usual, they ran out of time, so she’d have to send an email and get grumbled at later by SLT for not sharing during briefing so that staff could ask questions.
Thursday was the inclusion briefing, a chance to catch up with everyone in the team and share essential information. Hamid didn’t understand essential and thought he needed to give the low down on all his students every week. Actually, he came in early, so they started at 8:15 with Hamid. By the time the others joined at 8:30, he was about done. Unfortunately, he was definitely on a loop. If someone mentioned one of his students, he would rewind and repeat it all again. He had been doing it for so long that no one knew how to stop him and as asking him for written records was out of the question, it wasn’t likely to change.
Fridays, one of Mrs Nest’s SEN students would bring in a bacon or sausage butty, courtesy of her mum, who worked the early shift on a Friday at the cafe across the road. There were some perks!
Often the student would bring some ragtag strays with her.
- “Miss, Owen is struggling in history because the teacher keeps forgetting he needs the work enlarged.”
- “Elijah won’t tell you, but I will; he’s run out of medication, and his mum said she hasn’t got time to sort out.”
- “Tegan has two litres of Pepsi in his bag, Miss.”
Excellent relationships with students meant Mrs Nest often found out things much earlier than she might have otherwise.
But back to today, well, it had started off as a relatively normal Monday morning…