Can SEQTA work for you or is it working against you?
A key employer responsibility is to provide a safe environment for students, their families, workers and visitors to their school.
Currently, the behaviour exhibited by both parents and student is a growing concern. For many, it is already an undeclared crisis that causes significant distress and distracts all from the key functions of a school.
As more and more ‘parenting responsibilities’ are laid at the feet of teachers, the role becomes ever more demanding as expectations from employers and governments balloon into the ‘unrealistic’. Therefore, it is essential that staff — in particularly teachers — use Learning Management Systems (LMS) and other platforms to protect themselves.
In the past, data such as that connected with pastoral care, student well-being and behaviour management was commonly not centralised.
Sometimes this information was unintentionally being recorded through email messages but more often than not, it was relayed verbally or written in personally-held notes. In days past, insights into patterns of behaviour or specific issues may also surface in places such as ‘Time Out’ rooms, if records were kept and a staff member was charged with carriage of that area.
In the main, there were so many variables at play it was more possible than not that students with behavioural issues were not dealt with in a meaningful and satisfactory way.
SEQTA – an effective Learning Management System (LMS) if used correctly
In this day and age, most, if not all schools, have employed the use of LMS software (such as SEQTA) to ensure a central repository for reporting of such things.
However, what happens if these matters are not addressed in a meaningful way? What happens if SEQTA is just a repository and entries are not followed up, or trends are not identified in reoccurring behaviour?
It is crucial that staff, and in particular teachers, use this tool to record ‘all and sundry’ related to student behaviour.
No matter how small the comment, teachers need to document each event or occurrence to ensure those above who are responsible for monitoring such things and taking appropriate action are aware.
Recently there has been a growing number of members seeking assistance after being cited by their employer for ‘underperformance’ or allegations of misconduct based on their management of a particular student/s needs — quite often after a parental complaint, student complaint or critical incident.
Further, in some of these matters, the number of entries by the staff member were questioned by the employer. If as part of their defence members cite examples of student behaviours, the response from the employer has been “why wasn’t there more entries made about the student”?
It is common that the behaviours leading to such events may be exhibited over a long history, across year levels, and are rarely ‘out of the blue’.
Those whom the IEU have been able to best defend in a timely manner, are those who can turn to a LMS such as SEQTA and literally print off reams of paper that list a chronology of logged/reported behaviour/s by themselves and usually other staff as well.
The ability of the IEU member to cite a lack of support by the school for the teacher, such as:
- information not provided at hand-over; failure to have clinical assessments done;
- class size not adjusted accordingly; no extra Professional Development;
- no extra release time;
- the effect on other students learning and parental complaints about that;
combined with a lack of meaningful intervention by those charged with responsibility, are paramount to an effective defence.
Where necessary, it is also imperative to use platforms related to WHS such as Incident/Hazard Reports to identify student behaviour that is inappropriate and making the yard or classroom an unsafe environment, or, has the potential to cause the IEU member an injury or illness.
When should you use an incident/hazard report?
Use an Incident/Hazard Report when:
- a student uses an item to threaten or injure another student or the teacher
- a student ‘throws a tantrum’ and wilfully damages furniture in the room
- a student physically or psychologically hurts other students/teachers
- a student verbally abuses you
We have found that the staff most difficult to defend are those who have a wealth of stories about past student behaviour; complain about the lack of support received; but have no written record of these incidents that occured and therefore, cannot prove they activated and used approved procedures.
Documentation is critical!
We understand it takes time to record this information to SEQTA which takes you away from your core business, but if a time comes and you have to defend yourself, your evidence will only be as good as the written records you have kept.