Absenting oneself from the demanding warp and woof of the classroom can be professional suicide, especially if something ‘kicks off’.
One thing drummed into us when training was ‘never leave your class unattended’ because anything could happen.
Every teacher will have done it though, perhaps to ‘nip’ to the staffroom to make a photocopy, to “I just need to take this urgent call” and of course, to make a call of nature.
But if you leave then you leave the door wide open for trouble, even if you do leave the door wide open.
To step outside the class and still be able to see everyone is not quite the same as stepping outside and then going to a different part of the school or even the room next door.
The safeguarding implications shouldn’t need spelling out no matter how much you trust your class.
No class can be trusted and there is always the potential for an incident whether that be accidental or intentional.
You could get a colleague to ‘keep an eye’ on them but divided attention puts another class at risk. Ideally, you will have another adult able to step in and stay in whilst you go and do what you need to do.
But this doesn’t always happen. Some classrooms are isolated with no other member of staff to hand to help and individual students themselves should not be given the responsibility.
You are out of the room and the fire alarm goes off. Then what?
You are unjamming the photocopier and a fight unfolds where a knife is involved. Then what?
You are out of the room and your Head walks in with a visitor as your class play merry hell in your absence. Then what?
Professional teachers never leave the classroom unattended. If you have a personal need, a health emergency or need a bathroom break then your school should have a policy in place to cover these scenarios.
When a class are left alone without supervision then someone (and more than one) will take full advantage of your absence and use the opportunity to misbehave. This misbehaviour could be serious and you are entirely responsible.
A teacher who leaves their class “just for a few minutes” is a golden ticket for a bully. For the victim, your absence will be a nightmare, possibly life-changing.
Teachers who leave their class “just for a few minutes” are normally serial offenders who make a habit of it and should be reminded of their professional responsibilities.
Teachers have an obligation to keep children safe in school and that means not leaving a class without adult supervision.
Leaving a class without proper supervision is indefensible – the number one job of a teacher is safeguarding and supervising. Who wants to be sacked and sued for being negligent?