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Teachers snap back over bad behaviour

David Henderson reports from the SSTA conference in Aviemore and the NASUWT conference in Seamill

PUPIL indiscipline has rocketed over the past two years, according to half of the 2,500 SSTA members who responded to the latest union survey.

They blame changing pupil attitudes and lack of parental support for schooling and teachers.

"It's the core values that pupils and parents have of the system and that's a hearts and minds campaign," David Eaglesham, the union's general secretary, said.

Teachers now placed indiscipline alongside workload at the top of their concerns. "It's very clear this problem is there, getting worse and is not going away. This is the reality and we need to say this loudly and clearly," Mr Eaglesham said.

Peter Wright, West Lothian, said that social inclusion policies were partly responsible with teachers being "made to feel guilty they could not cope".

Kate McKee, East Dunbartonshire, said she was looking forward to retiring in six weeks and could not go on any longer because of rising indiscipline - "and I teach in a good school". Mooning was just one of the acts perpetrated by pupils.

Val Liddell, Inverclyde, reported that a teacher had been assaulted last Tuesday but the boy was still in school on Thursday. "Sometimes we do not feel we are being supported," she said.

* Disruptive pupils who make it impossible for others to learn must be taken out of the classroom, "normally on a temporary basis", Graham Donaldson, senior chief inspector, told the conference.

But teachers had to find out what caused the difficulties. "That's what social inclusion is about. It is looking at young people in the round, looking at their background and the kind of experience they have."


A behaviour census of 213 members in Fife on February 19 makes "disturbing reading", Margaret Smith, the SSTA local secretary, said. "Low-level indiscipline such as wilfully ignoring instructions to get on with work or to behave in an appropriate manner appear to be endemic. Although violent verbal abuse and actual physical violence against teachers is less widespread, it is occurring at levels which cannot be ignored.

"Teachers have cited horrific examples of violence against them, including threats to rape them and a number of incidences of actual or threatened physical assault from pupils or their relatives."

* School B: "Instructing a class to move to another room I was told to fuck off."

"In attempting to modify poor behaviour of a pupil who had been removed from room, I was told: 'You have no right to do that, you bitch'."

* School C: "Door kicked, narrowly missing my face during class cover for another teacher. Group of S3 boys involved laughed as this happened."

"There is no doubt that pupil behaviour in general is in sharp decline, if not in complete free fall, basically because it is not being properly challenged by those who have the authority and power to challenge it."

* School D: "Pupil made derogatory and abusive remarks regarding my size: when challenged - rude, insolent, obnoxious. A typical day at the chalkface. Yet again, nothing done."

* School E:"Quiet day! Easy classes."

"Pupil asked several times to empty mouth of chewing gum and refused each time. Eventually, when threatened with severe sanction, pupil spat chewing gum out, deliberately covering me with saliva and who knows what else."

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