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Commenting on the education secretary's announcement* today of greater support to schools in dealing with disruptiv...
Commenting on the education secretary's announcement* today of greater support to schools in dealing with disruptive pupils and violent parents and limiting the
powers of independent appeals panels to reinstate excluded pupils, Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, said:
'The NUT welcomes all consultation with government but what teachers need is action. The only test teachers will use is whether there is an instant response
excluding a disruptive child enabling other pupils to learn.
'The behaviour of a minority of pupils has seriously worsened over recent years. We have seen an over-emphasis on the rights of individual pupils to the detriment of the collective right of the majority to learn.
'The union will take action up to strike action if necessary to support teachers and ensure that the right to learn is protected for the vast majority of pupils.
'There has been a worrying increase in violence and aggression from parents towards teachers in recent years. The law should be changed to ensure that parents
who are violent or aggressive are banned from school premises.'
Martin Pilkington, head of legal and member services at the Association of
Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), has welcomed the formal consultation on
measures aimed at promoting good behaviour in schools.
'We have a very real problem about violent behaviour and indiscipline in
schools. Many parents and indeed the general public would find it
unacceptable for teachers to be subjected to violence in the workplace and
would find it very disturbing to hear of the frequency of these events.
There are no simple, straightforward, off-the-shelf answers but the
Government's new proposals are a step in the right direction.
'Teachers have felt frustrated for some time that no-one seems to care if
they are assaulted in the course of trying to do their jobs. Every so often
a case makes the national press and there is a wave of public alarm and
sympathy, but it is clear that a serious response is necessary to tackle
these assaults in the long-term.
Mr Pilkington continued:
'ATL welcomes the proposals aimed at balancing the responsibility of
controlling violent and disruptive children. Why should teachers be
expected to control pupils in situations where the parents have no control
themselves? The suggested 'parenting classes' are a positive move to teach
parents how to discipline their children, preparing them to behave as model
students in the classroom.
'The proposals for anger management classes for disruptive pupils, together
with the parenting classes and new measures for teachers must be linked up
as a total package of support. It is vital that any reform is not introduced
in isolation. Only by combining across-the-board improvements for pupils,
parents and teachers alike can a significant benefit be reached from these
'The procedure for exclusions must be more balanced to take greater account
of the interests of both the teacher and pupils in the decision making
process. The vast majority of ATL's industrial action in schools involves
situations where a teacher has been violently attacked and the pupil remains
in school. Changes to the system to allow proper and full consideration of
ALL the relevant issues in the school is necessary and long overdue.
'Aggressive and violent behaviour by parents is a very serious issue. There
are far too many incidents. ATL considers it to be wholly unacceptable that
any teacher should have to accept foul, abusive verbal or physical attacks
by adults.
'Our experience is that the police tend not to be interested unless bones
are broken and blood is spilt. This doesn't take into account or recognise
that an incident of verbal abuse can be as traumatic as a physical attack.
Too often when these incidents occur, they are not treated seriously enough.
'ATL must pay tribute to those authorities which have accepted their full
professional and legal responsibilities and offered teachers the maximum
possible practical help and support. We must regret that number is small.
In our Model Policy to deal with assaults on teachers, we provide guidelines
on how attacks can be prevented, action to be taken after an assault has
occurred and how victims can be supported. Each school must devise their
own procedures for dealing immediately with assaults by anyone on school
premises. These must be approved, consistent with the LEA's agreed policy
on the matter, and operated without delay when an assault occurs.
'The steps taken by Estelle Morris today in tackling disruptive behaviour in
schools are urgently required to ensure that the ATL model policy is
'At ATL's annual conference in April of this year a motion was passed
calling for 'zero tolerance' of unruliness. The teachers who proposed the
motion stressed that while alternative provision had to be provided for such
pupils, a line had to be drawn somewhere.
Susan Gokova, a teacher at Claremont Primary and Nursery School in
Nottingham highlighted the deteriorating behaviour of both primary and
nursery school pupils. She said:
'I have had bruises from children. I know other teachers who have been cut
with scissors. These children need one-to-one attention to help them
overcome their problems, preferably in special units outside the classroom.
It is not unusual for children to come into school with low self-esteem,
lack of confidence and showing aggressive behaviour.'
Peter Smith, general secretary of ATL concluded:
'The government's initiative is long overdue. The real test will be whether
it leads to action or is no more than a headline grabbing posture.'
David Hart, general secretary NAHT comments on today?s announcement of new measures to tackle violent pupils and parents as follows:
'The NAHT very largely welcomes the new measures to tackle violent pupils and parents. This isa positive response to the NAHT's campaign to give higher priority to the interests of the law-abiding majority of pupils and to crack down on violent parents.
Further cases of violence and threatening behaviour by parents within the last month have only served to re-inforce the NAHT?s demand for action to curb the growing tendency for parents to use violence as a first resort.
It is therefore, disappointing that the government has set its face against the right to exclude a pupil for the misbehaviour of the parent. Urgent action has to be taken in those few cases where the relationship between home and school has fundamentally broken down. o expect a school to continue to educate that child where all other measures to deal with the parent have failed is wholly unreasonable.'
* see LGCnetfor details
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