Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Drama teachers fired for allowing British junior High School  students to perform play in front of parents depicting rape, oral sex and child abuse

Two drama teachers were sacked for allowing GCSE students perform in a play involving depictions of rape, oral sex and child abuse within a family in front of their parents and classmates.

The play - which even featured a pupil acting out the role of a father sexually abusing his daughter - shocked teachers, upset parents and left children sobbing and vomiting in distress.

Complaints were made and the two unnamed teachers, who were supervising the 15 and 16-year-olds who wrote and acted in the play, were sacked by the school for gross misconduct.

They are now pursuing unfair dismissal claims - but the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled this week that a previous decision in their favour was ‘perverse’ and that their cases must be re-heard.

The teachers taught drama at an unidentified school. One was head of the department - and they were responsible for supervising GCSE students in writing, rehearsal, production and performance.

The ‘age-inappropriate’ material included graphic descriptions of sex, rape, oral sex between father and daughter, child abuse between parents and children, and group sex within a family, EAT judge Lady Smith said.

A showcase of the work was held in front of friends and relatives, but the department head failed to warn those invited of the potentially disturbing nature of the production.

Even the headteacher of the school was not told about the content and was unaware of what the students had been involved in until after the showcase, Lady Smith said.

‘The principal complaint came from a parent who described not only her own distress, but the distress of others, including a girl who was sobbing after the performance and a boy and one of the actors who were vomiting as a result of their distress,’ she said.

The local county council’s safeguarding manager for education was called in to view a DVD of the performance and said he was shocked and concerned that the students had been allowed to engage in such sexualised behaviour.

Some of the children were acting out roles of abusers or victims and he said he found the material ‘offensive, disturbing and potentially abusive’ of the young people involved.

He described it as a ‘crude portrayal of abusive acts’ and said it might not be known for some time what effect being involved in such a production might have had on the students.

In disciplinary proceedings, the teachers both put forward statements from others who had watched or been involved in the production and who described their experiences as positive.

Following their dismissal, both teachers took their case to an employment tribunal and succeeded in claims for unfair dismissal. It said that there was ‘no cogent evidence’ of a risk of, or actual, harm to the children involved.

'Matters need to be looked at afresh with the correct questions being addressed under reference to all relevant facts and circumstances'

The school’s governing body and county council had failed to interview a representative sample of those who took part or watched the showcase to compare and contrast with the opinions of the safeguarding manager, who had ‘no experience of drama’, the tribunal said.

But, overturning the decision as ‘perverse’, Lady Smith said the tribunal was wrong because the safeguarding manager had shown he had professional experience of role play in abuse scenarios and had spoken of the potential effects on participants.

Lady Smith said the fact that participants and viewers of the performance were not interviewed was an ‘irrelevant factor’ for the tribunal to have taken into consideration.

The tribunal members had also failed to take account of some relevant matters and failed to apply the proper test in coming to their decision on the teachers’ claims.

Sending the cases back for a new employment tribunal hearing, she continued: ‘Matters need to be looked at afresh with the correct questions being addressed under reference to all relevant facts and circumstances.’


What the devil? Plastic Halloween tridents and broomsticks banned from British school party 'for safety reasons'

Halloween party organisers banned children from bringing sharp plastic props, including toy broomsticks and scythes, to a fancy dress celebration amid fears that they could hurt themselves.

Youngsters aged five and under were banned from bringing pointed objects to the 'spooky disco' at a primary school in Treuddyn, North Wales.

The ban was in spite of posters publicising the event telling parents that under fours could not attend without an adult.

Community leaders put the ban in place in fear that the youngsters might injure themselves if they brought pointed costume accessories along.

Local mother Jo Turley told The Sun: 'Please leave our kids alone and let them be kids. So long as they are supervised, where is the harm?'

The party, which was held yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) was held at the Treuddyn Schools Campus which is home to both Ysgol Parc y Llan Primary School and Ysgol Terrig Primary School, but organised by a local playgroup.

Flintshire councillor Carolyn Thomas who helped organise the event said: 'The children are very young and we just didn't want them running around with any pointy things.  'It was to save them hurting themselves or getting upset if they lose the articles.'

But a spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said that the ban was unnecessary.  He said: 'The ban on Halloween toys seems over the top, especially as the organisers of the party have also made arrangements for supervision of the children. The key thing for the children is to enjoy themselves. It's not going to be much of a party otherwise.'

News of the ban comes as it was revealed that a staggering two thirds of British children do not understand why they celebrate Halloween.

More than ten per cent of youngsters also believe the annual horror-fest is a day to mark the last witch being burned in the London.

But Halloween is becoming as popular a date to celebrate among UK children as their American counterparts with 45 per cent of those surveyed by Snazaroo face paints due to attend themed parties this year.

It seems our youngsters are also particularly persistent when it comes to trick or treating with nearly one in five knocking on as many as 30 doors in their neighbourhood.


Australia: Private schools not just for wealthy according to figures by independent report

ABOUT half of Queensland's richest families sent their children to state schools last year instead of the private sector, a report released today shows.

The report also found independent schools had a slightly higher percentage of children from the state's poorest families in its student population than the Catholic sector.

Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) executive director David Robertson said figures in ISQ's "Research Report: Income Levels of Families with Students in Queensland Schools" - compiled using 2011 Australian census data - busted a myth that its sector only served the wealthy.

He said the figures also raised the question of whether the children of high-income state school parents, who could afford to pay more for education, should receive less money under the new school funding model. The ISQ report states 48 per cent of families earning more than $2260 per week - or $117,520 a year - sent their children to a state school, compared to 28 per cent to Catholic schools and 24 per cent to Independents.

"Of those students from families with incomes in the highest decile ($3278 per week), 39.7 per cent attended government schools, 30.1 per cent attended Catholic schools and 30.3 per cent attended independent schools," the report stated.

"This pattern of the Government catering for more of the highest-income families than either independent or Catholic schools was replicated at both primary and secondary levels."

The one exception was in secondary for the highest wage bracket of more than $3278 per week - $170,456 plus a year - with the independent sector schooling 37.5 per cent of those children, compared to 32.5 per cent in the state sector.

At the other end of the income bracket the report found "19.6 per cent of students attending independent schools were from families that earnt less than $1,108 per week, compared to 18.1 per cent for Catholic school students and 36.0 per cent of government school students".

Mr Robertson said there had been significant growth in independent schools catering for disadvantaged families and they would be able to cater for more if funding arrangements were more equitable.

"It would be a surprise to many that close to 10 per cent of students from families with a weekly income of less than $488 per week attended independent schools," he said.

Mr Robertson urged the Government to closely examine the data "which clearly dispels some public myths" before deciding on the nature of its school funding reform.


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