Lawless in Fife

7th July 2006 at 01:00
"Schools in Fife keep the peace" was one of your recent headlines. Is this what the senior officials in Fife say? You should know better than to believe what senior officials on fat salaries tell you.

I taught as a supply teacher in a Fife secondary school for eight months.

During this time, the school had no rector, my faculty had no faculty head and my department had no principal teacher.

The pupils took full advantage of this lawless situation. In December 2005, I witnessed a full-blown pitch battle between two opposing "armies" of pupils. The melee took place in the school's courtyard using bottles and stones as improvised missiles.

On most days, I could see at least one pupil with a bloody face, a victim of "jumping up" in the corridors of the rambling and dilapidated 1970s building.

I lost count of how many times pupils shouted common and racist abuse at me in class. I reported all the incidents on the internal school forms and on the Fife Council incident report forms. The school's sanctions for the pupils involved in abusive behaviour were laughed at by the pupils; on the most serious occasions, they amounted to three days' extra holidays for them (otherwise known as "temporary exclusions").

Fife Council limited itself to acknowledging just one of the incidents I reported, choosing to sweep the rest under the carpet while painting a rosy picture to the public at large.

In one incident last year, I was physically assaulted by a girl in an S2 class. I was later told that the girl had already been identified by Fife police as the ringleader of a shoplifting group, shortly after coming to the secondary school. Again, my report to Fife Council sank without trace.

On several occasions during this period, police officers turned up at the school. Other schools in Fife had police officers permanently stationed on the premises.

The school's disciplinary policy was ineffective and laughed at by the pupils. Pupil behaviour problems were so great, that there was no point asking for help from anyone. The deputy rectors were snowed under with work and were rarely seen in the school corridors. In the end, I stopped asking for help.

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