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Teachers at Glasgow school could strike over ‘persistent’ pupil violence

Teachers in Glasgow could take strike action over pupil violence (PA)
Teachers in Glasgow could take strike action over pupil violence (PA)

Teachers at two local authorities could take strike action over rising incidents of violent behaviour and controversial plans to replace principal teachers with faculty heads.

Teachers at Bannerman High School in Glasgow are considering a walkout if pupil behaviour shows no sign of improving.

They have been taking action short of strike since October, claiming there has been a lack of action by Glasgow City Council to tackle persistent violence towards staff.

The NASUWT union, which represents 32 teachers at the school, says six violent incidents have been recorded since pupils returned after the Easter break last month.

Staff claim behaviour management policies are not being followed by senior management, and say they feel there are few consequences for pupils who are persistently disruptive.

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.”

According to figures obtained by NASUWT, 20 serious incidents of violence and aggression at the school were logged on the council’s health and safety management system during the last academic year.

In 2019/20, 41 incidents were recorded on the council’s system.

Dr Roach added: “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.

“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.”

A Glasgow City 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.”

Meanwhile, secondary school teachers at Dundee City Council are set to strike over plans to remove specialist principal teachers and bring in faculty heads, a move which has been brought in at many local authorities across Scotland.

They will walk out for one day on Wednesday June 22.

The EIS union claims the move would “remove the vital experience offered by subject specialist principal teachers” and it fears class teachers will be handed additional work.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: “The imposition of this structure belies any commitment to empowered schools on the part of Dundee council and fails to factor in lead teacher roles which have been developed since these structures were first reviewed.

“At a time when the focus should be on supporting education recovery for young people, Dundee council is proposing changes that will heap additional workload on to already over-burdened class teachers and remove vital expertise from secondary subject departments.

“Teachers in Dundee have voted, strongly, to fight these changes and they will have the full support of the EIS national body in their battle to oppose faculties and to protect the best possible education provision for young people in all Dundee secondary schools.”

Dundee City Council said the plans will be implemented by head teachers in consultation with school staff in a way that best suits their schools.

A spokesperson for the local authority said: “All but two of Scotland’s 32 local authorities already have a faculty structure in place.

“It is now important to move forward with plans to support educational recovery and increase progress in improving outcomes, which include implementing our head teachers’ faculty structures, which will not mean any reduction in teacher FTE (full-time equivalent) in any school.

“Officers have met regularly over the past three years with local trade union representatives to discuss, and consult on, the implementation of faculty structures in secondary schools.

“There have been ongoing changes to proposals and structures because of feedback from trade unions during these planned meetings; updated proposals were always shared with trade unions.”

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