We all know that we need to be consistent, with our own children at home and with the children at school. If we are consistent they know exactly where their boundaries are and will be safe in this knowledge.
We aim to be consistent, to not have favourites (or least favourites), to have one set of rules and apply them fairly, all of the time. Can I hand on heart say that this is always the case? No, or at least not without lying!
When my own children were small one child did something that I decided was punishment worthy (so major I can no longer remember the crime) and she lost one week’s pocket money. The following day one of her siblings did exactly the same thing – he then had a slight meltdown as his Play Station was removed for a few days. He claimed that I was unfair and not being consistent, I explained that removing a week’s pocket money to him would not have worried him whilst stopping his little sister playing on a Play Station that she rarely used was equally ineffectual. He could see that actually I was consistently applying a sanction for an action and that the deprivation factor of both sanctions was about the same. He started to appreciate consistency when a few years later I found him putting TV and Play Station on top of the wardrobe as he knew I’d find out what he’d done and could predict the punishment – he was right.
The incidents with my own children were fairly minor and in the big scheme of things, fairly inconsequential. Dealings with outside agencies who deal with safeguarding concerns is a little more serious and I’m not always certain that they deal with things consistently.
Today was the first time I had to phone through a matter to the relevant body. As a school we phone things through as we need to following all relevant guidance and policies. We are frequently told that it doesn’t meet the criteria for intervention but it will be noted. Today’s incident was enough for us to want to report it and the powers that be were very concerned whereas a more major (in our opinion) incident that we witnessed was dismissed far more quickly. There was definitely no consistency. We were told today that if there is a mark on a child they always investigate – um… if you say so.
I’m not a social worker and I am very glad of that fact, I cannot imagine the situations that they must find themselves in. I know that criteria and thresholds are written to give consistency and a level where intervention is necessary, it is just a shame that, like my son, we don’t always see and understand that consistency.