Deputy injured in pupils' spade attack

6th June 1997 at 01:00
NEW ZEALAND. A New Zealand deputy headteacher was left unconscious with a fractured skull after he was hit by two pupils with a spade.

Allister Gilbert, a horticulture teacher at Opononi Area school in Northland, was allegedly knocked to the ground, kicked and struck with the spade after trying to discipline a pupil for wearing a woollen "beanie" hat.

Two brothers, aged 16 and 17, have been suspended from the school and face charges in court.

The attack has prompted calls from teachers' unions for more resources to tackle classroom and playground violence. The latest statistics show that 32 children were suspended in the first quarter of the year for violence towards staff.

Martin Cooney, president of the Post Primary Teachers Association, said that overworked teachers are spending a good proportion of the school day trying to stop violent acts. About two-thirds of schools have "pre-suspension rooms", where problem students are given help to avoid banning them from school. Mr Cooney said all schools need such rooms as well as full-time teachers to run them.

Wyatt Creech, education minister, said he deplored the attack, but was not convinced extra teachers were needed.

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