Get tough on violence - call

18th June 2004 at 01:00
David Henderson reports from the EIS conference in Dundee, where the threat of industrial action over pupil numbers marked the only significant victory for the hard left

Linzi Moore, a South Lanarkshire guidance teacher, won the compassionate vote after pouring out her heart in front of some 300 delegates.

She called for tough measures against pupils who are violent towards teachers after she was harassed and terrorised by a fourth-year boy.

The boy waited for her in the mornings and she had to be accompanied to the staffroom. "I got to the stage where I did not want to go to school because I was too frightened," she said.

Only when she broke down in tears before her senior management team was the boy suspended, Ms Moore said.

Other colleagues faced similar harassment, with abusive and threatening messages left on their voicemails. Two teachers had been threatened with stabbing in school corridors.

Delegates unanimously supported calls for alternatives to mainstream schools for violent pupils. Larry Flanagan, Glasgow, said he called the police after a senior pupil assaulted him. The boy was subsequently prosecuted successfully.

"Violence against staff is simply unacceptable and it is an increasing problem," he said.

Between January and March, there had been 264 recorded violent incidents in Glasgow - eight in nursery, 45 in primary, 78 in secondary and 130 in the special sector.

"There have to be effective sanctions taken when the line is crossed and violence is perpetrated upon an individual member of staff," Mr Flanagan added. The vast majority of pupils also wanted action against violent and disruptive young people.

Willie Hart, Glasgow EIS secretary, said a primary depute head who had been spat at in the face was told by the authority that the pupil could not be excluded because spitting was not a violent incident. That was successfully countered. Another pupil had brought a ball-bearing gun to school.

Hugh Donnelly, Glasgow, said experienced teachers were being openly challenged by groups of children acting in concert. Pupils who were excluded often returned shortly after more confident and more determined to cause disruption. They became "models of bad behaviour" and influenced others.

Jack Barnett, Aberdeenshire and union vice-president, said he had witnessed the loss of confidence and devastation among members who had been subjected to violent incidents. They viewed themselves as failures if they completed incident forms.

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