Teachers at Glasgow school could strike over ‘violent and disruptive’ pupil behaviour

A teachers’ union has warned that staff at a Glasgow secondary school could go on strike over ‘violent and disruptive’ pupil behaviour.

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NASUWT has warned Glasgow City Council that it will have no option but to consider strike action at Bannerman High School if effective steps are not taken to address ‘violent and disruptive’ pupil behaviour and protect the safety and welfare of teachers.

Teachers at the school have been engaged in action since October 2021 because of ‘persistent verbal and physical assaults and violence’ against staff from pupils.

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The union says that incidents are continuing, and that six violent incident forms have been submitted by staff since the Easter break.

The union has accused the school of not sticking to behavioural policies and said that staff are not supported when incidents have occurred.

Bannerman High School.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “Members at Bannerman are increasingly worried for their personal safety and angry at the failure of their employer and Glasgow City Council to fulfil their duty to protect them and the majority of well-behaved pupils from violence and disruption.

“The attitude appears to be one of blaming teachers for poor behaviour, rather than holding pupils accountable, and this is being aided and abetted by the misuse and abuse of restorative behaviour conversations, which members feel have become synonymous with no punishment or sanctions for unacceptable behaviour.

“No teacher should go to work with the expectation that they will be either verbally or physically abused. All teachers are entitled to dignity at work and a safe working environment.

“The learning experiences of the majority of pupils are being undermined and disrupted by the City Council’s failure to deal appropriately with the actions of a minority.

“We have given the employer every opportunity to address these issues. While our action short of strike action is supporting members to take more control of their own approaches to tackling disruptive behaviour, management needs to take responsibility.

“All our members want is to be able to get on with their jobs free from the threat of violence and abuse at work.”

Mike Corbett, NASUWT national official Scotland, added: “Evidence shows that positive pupil behaviour stems from a whole school approach where managements lead and support staff in maintaining good discipline.

“We want the behaviour policies which we agreed with the school to be enacted and consistently enforced, so that pupils are not only encouraged to reflect on their own behaviour, but that there are clear and consistently enforced sanctions for verbal abuse or physical violence.

“Members should not be treated with suspicion and disdain by their employer simply for standing up for their right to work in safety, free from abuse and harassment.

“Enabling a culture of abuse and harassment fails both pupils and staff and our members are not prepared to gamble with their welfare any longer.”

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A council spokeswoman said: “We do not condone abuse of any sort – either verbal or physical – that is directed towards our teachers or school staff and who deserve to feel respected and safe in their work place.

“Young people who are not in school are not learning and although exclusions are unavoidable in certain circumstances, our schools work with pupils to find out why they are behaving in such a way and find solutions to support any child in need.

“We will continue to work with unions and their members to make sure everyone feels valued and respected in their working environment and it is not true to say that the school management team are not supporting school staff.

“Any reported incidents are dealt with quickly and effectively and a resolution agreed.”