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SSTA president hits out at cyberbullying against staff

New technology has unleashed a wave of "cyberbullying" against teachers, the president of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SSTA) claimed today.

Margaret Smith argued that while abuse of students through social media and mobile phones was well documented, the scale of the problem among staff was vastly underappreciated.

"Make no mistake, there have been truly shocking examples of abuse of teaching staff by pupils: photographs taken without consent and posted on YouTube; false Facebook pages created filled with scurrilous content, including explicit sexual imagery; and the use of technology generally as yet another resource to abuse and undermine teachers," she said.

"I am convinced that the cases we hear about are the tip of the iceberg and that cyberbullying of teachers is an issue that the SSTA must confront head on."

Ms Smith is concerned about student indiscipline in general, she told the union's annual conference. Although national statistics suggested that behaviour in schools was improving, she remained sceptical and claimed that there was a "political determination" to reduce exclusion figures.

"What is needed is a consistent approach to dealing with indiscipline, an acceptance that some behaviour - violence, threats, verbal abuse of teachers - cannot be tolerated, and a national consensus for dealing with such behaviour arrived at," she said. "As one highly successful and supportive headteacher once said to me: 'It's not rocket science.'"

Ms Smith also called for a "serious re-evaluation" of the union's relationship with the General Teaching Council for Scotland, querying its system for appointing people to sit in judgement of teachers.

She also said that the workload created by Curriculum for Excellence was causing "real despair" among many teachers.

henry.hepburn@tess.co.uk.

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