Breaking point

17th July 2009 at 01:00
Letter to the editor

For anyone not involved in teaching, the revelation that teachers are human and eventually, if pushed far enough, will snap may come as an unwelcome surprise.

Having been almost assaulted by a pupil while on supply this week, the knowledge that I have a choice whether or not to go back to that school and face him again is not a choice all teachers will have had.

Would most employees be willing to put up with regular abuse, sneering, refusal to co-operate and general disobedience from those they spend their day with? Anyone acting in such a manner in the workplace would find themselves swiftly out of work.

And yet given that in every NHS establishment we are greeted with strong warnings that "Abuse of staff will not be tolerated", what does it take to ensure a similar ethos is not only encouraged but strongly enforced in our schools?

Only those who have struggled with such hostility and arrogance from pupils, only those who themselves have narrowly averted the red mist of retribution and walked calmly out of the classroom can possibly understand the frustration so many teachers face.

Dan Clay, Supply teacher and writer, Royton, Oldham.

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