I haven’t always worked in Primary Schools and I have taught Music in some tough secondary schools in the Midlands. I think it is hard for primary staff and staff in leafy secondaries to understand some of the behaviour that can happen in secondary school corridors when discipline has obviously broken down.
I don’t like the idea of silent corridors. Anyone who knows me would think I am the last person to advocate silent corridors. I talk to everyone in the corridor. But I have experienced some dreadful assaults in corridors and the stampede which I am going to write about. Although one of the assaults I witnessed was absolutely dreadful and ended up with a child in hospital and blood everywhere in the corridor, it was the stampede in a different school that has chilled me. The assault was between two disruptive and difficult students who were intensively jealous of each other. It was horrific and it was premeditated. The stampede was different.
A large group of Year 11 children were coming out ten minutes early from lessons and we had been told that no one could leave until the bell rang. The head had rightly seen that there was an issue and had decided we needed more presence on the corridors. She asked us to stand by the doors. Three staff were on two sides of the corridor and the children were coming down the stairs between us. The children on the front saw me (I’m a big guy) so went to the other door where a female member of staff was. They then basically charged at her so she had to open the door. She was knocked over and I couldn’t help as I was the other side of the stampede. She wasn’t pregnant thank God or that baby would have been toast. The children in the stampede laughed as they walked out the door. As far as they were concerned it was all a bit of fun and they had got one over the staff by being able to leave early by shoving us out the way. Even good kids had got caught up in the stampede. It’s just fun isn’t it?
If that woman was pregnant and had lost the baby, and if I was one of those kids in the stampede I would have been mentally disturbed by what had happened. I am not sure I would be able to forgive myself for that.
If we had silent corridors, most of the children would have gone with it. It would have isolated the main troublemakers from the good kids who would have nothing to do with it. And there were loads of kids who just wanted to learn. We have to let leadership teams do what it takes to protect children and staff from harm and for some schools, silent corridors is a kind way of doing this. They may decide to have silent corridors for a while or in perpetuity; it doesn’t matter – we should not be sniping from the sides and criticizing. No one is getting hurt, in fact it is designed to prevent hurt. Anyone who has experienced assaults or a stampede in a corridor even when it is staffed know why a school might decided to implement a silent corridors policy. It’s not for everyone. But I can’t think of any who do it out of a warped need to control children like some are saying, They are doing it because it is right for their school.