Monday, July 11, 2011

Britain's broken schools: Violent behaviour in classrooms DOUBLES in just one year

Violent behaviour in our classrooms has doubled in just a year. Almost 1,000 pupils – some as young as five – are excluded for abuse or assault every school day, compared to 452 last year. Major assaults on staff have also reached a five-year high, with 44 teachers taken to hospital last year.

The figures, from an official Government report, lay bare the full extent of the mayhem in our classrooms. Astonishingly, one in four teaching staff has been the subject of a false allegation by pupils. These range from sexual abuse to verbal assault. One in six has had a false allegation made against them by a member of a pupil’s family.

The worrying trends have led two-thirds of teachers to consider leaving the profession, according to the Department for Education.

Former deputy head Katharine Birbalsingh – dismissed after criticising behaviour in state schools at last year’s Tory conference – said violence was escalating because the school system was 'broken'. She said: 'Pushing and shoving and worse forms of violence are a huge problem. The problem is the endemic culture of blame in schools – bad behaviour is also attributed to bad teaching. 'Management push this theory, children use it as an excuse, and teachers themselves begin to believe it.

'You have a situation where struggling teachers will not seek help for fear of looking incompetent. And meanwhile children are left to think that they can get away with anything and push the boundaries.' A recent series of attacks – ranging from stabbing to rape – support the report’s findings that violent behaviour is soaring in the classroom.

Experts have blamed soft parenting and teaching for creating a generation unable to respect authority or interact socially without lashing out. They fear parents struggling to juggle the pressures of modern life are unable to spend quality time with their children. Instead many are left unsupervised in front of a TV or computer.

Nick Seaton of the Campaign for Real Education said: 'Adults fail to teach discipline and a respect for authority. 'At a tender age children are told they are the centre of the universe and it makes them too self-centred and totally uncontrollable.'

There were almost 1,000 exclusions every day in England’s schools last year. This compares with 452 per day the previous year – 2008/2009. In addition, one in four children have been bullied at school and one in five have been a victim of bullying outside school.

Charlie Taylor, the Coalition’s 'behaviour tsar', said: 'Behaviour is good at most schools, but these figures demonstrate concerning levels of violence in a small number. 'This kind of behaviour is a serious disruption to teaching and learning. It is a major factor in deterring good people from becoming teachers and is a common reason for experienced teachers to leave the profession.'
dossier of violence

The Department for Education today publishes guidance for teachers on how to deal with bad behaviour.

Ministers want to 'unequivocally restore adult authority to the classroom'. They have axed Labour’s 600 page guidance – which they claim confused teachers – and have replaced it with just 52 pages. The new measures, to be introduced in September, say all schools should scrap existing 'no touch' policies.

At present, teachers are not allowed to touch a child in the course of teaching them a musical instrument or helping them in an accident.

Teachers will also be able to use reasonable force to eject unruly pupils. And heads will be able to search without consent for an extended list of banned items such as alcohol, illegal drugs and stolen property.

Ministers will also place an onus on schools to crack down on bullying. In addition, pupils who make false allegations will face suspension, expulsion, or criminal prosecution.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: 'This new, clear and concise guidance removes the red tape that has stopped teachers from being confident in maintaining discipline in the classroom.'

Disciplinarian Sir Michael Wilshaw, who turned the worst school in England into one of best, has been tipped for the post of chief inspector of schools. Education Secretary Michael Gove has approached the headmaster of Mossbourne Academy, in London, to persuade him to accept the vacant £180,000 post at Ofsted.

Sir Michael takes an uncompromising view towards substandard behaviour. He imposes strict penalties on pupils who do not do their homework and has a zero tolerance approach to disruptive behaviour.


Use 'reasonable force' on classroom yobs, British teachers told

Teachers are being told to use force to physically control unruly pupils under a back-to-basics crackdown on bad behaviour in schools

Staff in England should use “reasonable” measures to remove disruptive children from classrooms, break-up fights and stop pupils attacking other teachers or classmates.

New guidance published today says it “may not always be possible to avoid injuring pupils” while using restraining techniques in the most extreme circumstances.

Some schools currently impose sweeping “no touch” policies to avoid being sued by parents after children are gripped or held by staff. But the new guidance explicitly bans these policies, and even says heads should not automatically suspend teachers accused of using “excessive force” on young people.

The changes come amid Government claims that the balance of power in schools has swung too far towards pupils in recent years. According to figures, major assaults on staff reached a five-year high in 2010, with 44 being rushed to hospital with serious injuries.

Almost 1,000 children are suspended from school for abuse and assault every day and two-thirds of teachers admit bad behaviour is driving professionals out of the classroom.

New guidance is intended to outline the tactics staff can use – and punishments that can be meted out – to control disruptive pupils. The “clear” advice is just 52 pages long compared with the 600 pages of documents on behaviour issued by Labour.

Charlie Taylor, a top head teacher and the Government’s new behaviour tsar, said: "For far too long, teachers have been buried under guidance and reports on how to tackle bad behaviour. The new guidance will help teachers to be able to do their job without lessons being disrupted and schools to feel confident when they address behaviour issues.”

The guidelines are intended to be used by more than 21,000 state schools in England. Under the rules, schools are told to:

* Consider calling in police to prosecute pupils who make serious false allegations against staff;

* Resolve the vast majority of accusations made by pupils within a month and ensure unfounded claims are not included in teachers’ records;

* Punish pupils for misbehaviour and bullying committed outside schools, including at evenings and weekends;

* Search pupils’ clothing, bags and lockers for drugs, alcohol, weapons and stolen goods without their consent;

* Consider forcing all pupils to undergo airport-style screening checks as they enter school even if they are not suspected of carrying weapons;

* Require all parents to sign “home school agreements” and apply to the courts for £50 spot fines or parenting orders if sons or daughters regularly misbehave or skip classes.

Some of the most comprehensive guidance covers the use of “reasonable force” to restrain pupils. This can include standing between pupils or physically blocking their path, guiding children by the arm or holding youngsters to get them under control.

Staff should “always try to avoid acting in a way that might cause injury, but in extreme cases it may not always be possible to avoid injuring the pupil”, the document says.

Physical force can be used to break up fights, stop children attacking classmates or teachers and to remove disruptive children from lessons or school events.

Schools do not need parents’ permission to use force and must not automatically suspend staff who are accused of using excessive force against children, says the guidance.

In a further conclusion, it makes clear that staff can also make physical contact in other circumstances such as holding children’s hands, comforting distressed pupils, patting them on the back or demonstrating sports techniques during PE without fear of being labelled as paedophiles.

The Government also said it was legislating to give accused staff full anonymity – until cases reach court – to ensure false allegations do not stain teachers’ careers. It also wants to remove the legal requirement on schools to give parents 24 hours’ notice of detentions.

Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, said: "This new, clear and concise guidance removes the red tape that has stopped teachers from being confident in maintaining discipline in the classroom. It will also help schools promote good behaviour.

"We know that the majority of pupils are well-behaved and want others to behave well too. The role of the Government is to give schools the freedom and support they need to provide a safe and structured environment in which teachers can teach and children can learn.”


Bring back the cane, say the Australian public

AN overwhelming majority of PerthNow readers believe corporal punishment should be allowed in WA schools.

A poll on PerthNow today is asking readers whether they support the use of corporal punishment in schools. More than 1600 people have had their say already today with more than 80 per cent of respondents voting yes, it should be allowed.

It follows revelations in today’s edition of The Sunday Times that several WA schools are still using the cane to punish students who behave badly.

Nollamara Christian Academy is among three independent schools that have corporal punishment, which was banned in the state's public and Catholic schools in 1986. Mt Helena's Bible Baptist Christian Academy and Bunbury's Grace Christian School are believed to be the other schools.

Despite opposing corporal punishment, Education Minister Liz Constable said she would not stop it. She says it was up to parents if they wanted to send children to "the very few schools" in WA that still used the cane.

Nollamara Christian Academy Pastor Roger Monasmith said a small paddle "like a ping-pong bat" was used as part of a disciplinary approach for the school's 18 students.

Pastor Monasmith said the cane was never used in anger and every parent had to sign an agreement about corporal punishment before enrolling their child. He said four or five students had been punished so far this year to ensure they understood they had not only disobeyed school rules, but also God.

The Department of Education Services regulates the use of the cane in non-government schools in WA. Such schools must notify parents prior to enrolment and keep records of all corporal punishment administered, a spokesman said.

Opposition education spokesman Ben Wyatt said he believed the cane was "past its use-by-date", but parents should have the choice.


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