Tuesday, May 19, 2009

British insanity again

Teacher's 'assault' hell: 'All I did was touch a pupil on the arm... so why was I barred from school?

A teacher with nearly 50 years' experience yesterday spoke of her 'devastation' after being banned from her school over a claim she assaulted a pupil. Thelma Hoskins, 67, said she simply put her hand on the boy's shoulder after telling him off for disrupting a lesson. One of his parents made a complaint and she was told to stay away from St Winefride's Catholic Primary School in Bradford. The headmistress, Maureen Cairns, has been suspended over the same incident.

The move is thought to relate to her alleged failure to follow reporting procedures after the accusation was made. Mrs Hoskins, who has taught music part-time at the school for the past two and a half years, said: 'There was a small incident in the first week of March when I chastised a child who would not shut up. We had been doing some work and each group was showing what they were doing. 'I had him out in the front and told him: "Do you know you are doing wrong? Shut up and listen".'

She said she told the nine-year-old that his behaviour was spoiling the lesson for other pupils. 'He said he was sorry and apologised to the rest of the class,' she said. 'I told him to return to his seat and I put my hand on his shoulder and said "Join in properly". Later a parent made a complaint to the head. 'Mrs Cairns and I spoke to the little boy together and he agreed that he had been disruptive and said sorry to Mrs Cairns. 'I went off on holiday for Easter assuming it was all done with.'

But when Mrs Hoskins returned she was told the parent had written to Father Kieron Walker, chairman of the governors. The deputy head, Brenda O'Connor, told her that the board had asked her to stay away. 'I have not been told for how long and I have not had any contact from the school since,' she said. 'I have not heard the word " suspended" and have not received anything in writing from anyone. 'It is terrible when you know you have done nothing wrong.'

Mrs Hoskins, who is employed by the school to take Friday afternoon music lessons, added that during her long time in teaching she had 'worked with hundreds of children with never a moment's trouble'. 'I'm extremely baffled by the accusation and absolutely perturbed by the whole thing,' she said. 'I have been a teacher for 48 years and have never been accused of anything.'

A spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Leeds confirmed an incident was under investigation, adding: 'The council and the diocese are working together to resolve the situation.' Ian Beck, regional officer for the National Association of Head Teachers, said: 'I'm aware that there are some issues at the school which are being investigated by the proper authorities. 'It's possible that Mrs Cairns didn't report the incident because it didn't happen.'

While the full facts have yet to be determined, last week the Mail revealed that just 2 per cent of allegations levelled at teachers result in a caution or conviction. New guidance is being developed, stressing that schools should not suspend staff automatically after an allegation has been received or allow investigations to drag on.

A spokesman for Bradford Council said: 'It would inappropriate for us to comment until the investigation has been concluded.'


Australia: Teachers subject to harrowing attacks by students

Lots of British schools have police permanently stationed onsite. That would seem to be the future for Australia too

TEACHERS are being terrorised by students who have assaulted them with bricks, furniture, threatened with death, spat on and held hostage. A shocking list of assaults and harrowing attacks by students on teachers since January last year has been supplied to The Courier-Mail. It comes as state school teachers across Queensland get ready to strike tomorrow.

The list of assaults, provided by the Queensland Teachers Union, shows teachers are bearing the brunt of a current wave of violence in state schools. One special school teacher had her jaw broken and multiple teeth knocked out in an attack by a student using fists, feet and furniture. Another suffered extensive eye socket and rib damage after a student's assault. Students terrorised one primary teacher and the teacher's young family for three nights in a row at the family home, throwing rocks on the roof.

Another teacher was forced into a storage room and then terrorised by a student whose hat she had confiscated in class. "The teacher tried to use a phone in the room to call for help but the student repeatedly disconnected the call by pressing the hook switch on the phone. The teacher was eventually able to pass the student and sought help from the school admin," the list states.

It follows revelations in The Courier-Mail over the past two months of violence in schools, including more than 150 attacks on staff and students across the state from intruders last year and rising violence against teachers inside Prep classes.

A teacher specialising in behaviour management contacted The Courier-Mail last week to detail a barrage of attacks over the past fortnight. "I've had a brick thrown at me, been threatened with dangerous weapons, had a chair thrown at me, a classroom window smashed, received very specific and detailed death threats and an assurance that, after I was dead, my classroom would be burned down," she wrote.

QTU president Steve Ryan said the account was not unusual. But, he said, teaching was still a career he could not recommend highly enough. "About 5 per cent of the population gives you about 95 per cent of the problem," he said. Mr Ryan blamed rising disrespect for authority, a lack of resources and student behavioural problems for the violence.

Education Queensland has 325 full-time equivalent behavioural staff across the state - more than one for every four state schools. An EQ spokeswoman said violence had no place in the sector. More than 17,000 students were suspended for violence in Queensland state schools in 2007-2008, with almost 300 expelled.


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