With Lancashire teachers taking the highly unusual move of striking over pupils’ bad behaviour and a ‘lack of backing from management’, we ask just how widespread these kinds of concerns are.
It’s an abnormal day when teachers strike over issues other than pay and conditions. It was widely reported in the media last week that around 70 staff at Darwen Vale High School in Darwen, Lancashire went on strike and formed picket lines to protest over what they described as threats, violence and ‘poor management.’
The Lancashire Telegraph reported that ‘members of the NUT and the NASUWT voted overwhelmingly to take strike action to protest against the management’s failure to support staff in dealing with challenging pupil behaviour.’
‘Children no better or worse than anywhere else’
A representative from the local NUT branch emphasised to the BBC that the school’s children were no better or worse than anywhere else: “This is not a strike against pupils. It is about management and management failure to support staff in dealing with challenging behaviour.”
The school is now said to be in discussion with the unions and staff to resolve the situation and to ensure “that staff feel well supported when they do need to deal with behaviour issues.”
‘Creating an allegations war zone’
The action came during a week when education secretary Michael Gove was accused of creating a “much more aggressive culture” and “creating an allegations war zone,” when he issued new guidance to schools on discipline, which reminds teachers that, where necessary, heads can bring criminal charges against pupils.
Darwen Vale has been rated as a good school, with pupils’ behaviour also given a good rating, by Ofsted (June 2010).
If you’re a teacher, do you feel supported by management over discipline issues? Do teaching staff need greater powers to deal with unruly behaviour? Why not share your views below?