Proud to highlight the issue of disruption

27th September 1996 at 01:00
As a classroom teacher and member of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, may I accept the challenge issued by Mick McManus (TES, September 13) to come out of the woodwork and respond to my union's attitude to disruptive pupils? (Was it intentional that this article appeared opposite Collette Drifte's explanation of why she is leaving teaching which also answered many of Mr McManus's points?) I would have thought that the education world, at least, would have appreciated that teachers are not refusing to teach disruptive pupils.

What we are saying, and the NASUWT in particular is saying, is that for effective teaching and learning to take place certain things have to happen.

Not least of these is that there has to be an environment in which the learner can be taught and enabled to learn.

If, as occasionally happens, there are members of the learning community who are unable or unwilling to contribute, then additional steps have to be taken. In some cases, additional in-class support is sufficient. In others, transfer to a different environment may be necessary.

What teachers, and the NASUWT, are also saying, is that the desire of central government to reduce expenditure and the desire of the educational theorists to encourage integration have helped to bring about a situation in which the additional support which so many of our learners require is either no longer available or available only after a lengthy waiting-period. (For example, what is the waiting-time for a consultation with the education psychologist, and once accepted, what is the time-scale between consultations?) I would also ask Mr McManus and his supporters why it is not acceptable to fund the alternatives which are so desperately required by so many of today's learners, yet acceptable to fund the repair of the damage which they cause to our physical and emotional environment?

How much vandalism do they cause which they might not cause were the necessary funding available to meet their needs?

How many more cases like Coventry teacher Hazel Spence-Young, awarded more than Pounds 80,000 earlier this year for injuries inflicted by a junior school pupil, must there be before the money is found to meet their needs? How does one begin to quantify the value of the disruption to the education of their peers or that caused to the education system as a whole by the disruptive learner?

If there is disgrace and shame, it is that a modern rich society, which is what ours is claimed to be, cannot or will not find the means to educate the individual according to need; it is that there are teachers whose lives are ruined as a result of attempting to cope with these troubled youngsters, and if other teachers' unions fail to highlight the issue, that is their shame.

In conclusion, perhaps we as a profession may be allowed a little collective pride for our efforts to control and educate these youngsters, and for highlighting their needs.

Education, like so many other things, cannot be had on the cheap. At the moment, the NASUWT leadership, in voicing the concerns of its members, as any democratic organisation should, is reminding us all of this fact.

And of that, I, as a member, am proud, not ashamed.

RALPH MOSES 41 Parkleigh Drive New Moston Manchester

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