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.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today