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Poor Behaviour, Lack of Support, Stress

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by sdm79, Sep 27, 2017.

  1. sdm79

    sdm79 New commenter


    Any advice please.

    I teach at a secondary school, where the general behaviour has been bad and getting worse for the past few months (e.g. pupils swearing at staff, ignoring staff/defiance, constant disruption, running around shouting/screaming in mobs, barging other pupils and staff out of the way). SLT are doing very little to address things with the worst pupils just getting away with things and continuing with the behaviour, which in turn is then seen by other pupils and they start behaving badly (snowball effect).

    Unions are well aware, and apparently discussion with SLT are ongoing and changes are "on the horizon" owtte. We have strong union reps and regular staff union meetings, a strong "togetherness" - however, nothing is changing and has been like this for months, maybe longer. This is causing stress, many staff feel unsafe in the school especially at breaktimes/lunchtimes and between lessons (corridor behaviour).

    I am at a point where I may be signed off with stress, but feel that it should not come to this as my general teaching and workload I can cope with no problem, it is just the things above that should be dealt with by management. I actually enjoy the teaching for the majority but cannot be coping with these aspects, and don't feel anyone should to this extent. Behaviour management is a normal part of the job and I know we always get some bad behaviour, but the fact that it is so widespread and being ignored by SLT and same issues/pupils just keep coming back again and again repeating the behaviour with almost no consequences.

    I do not want to jump the gun here, and tbh not sure what I can do, but even with strong union reps I feel that I should be able to get better union support and to be able to refuse dealing with or teaching when this kind of behaviour, definately not on a daily basis. Am considering taking direct union advice direct rather than using the reps, but don't want to go it alone ideally or behind their backs, or be seen to be a "maverick" of sorts. I am also wondering (have no idea if this is realistic) getting an employment solicitor involved, as nobody should be having to put up with health and safety risks and abuse like this on a daily basis. Other workplaces clearly state "our staff do not have to tolerate abuse and violence" owtte so why should a school be different?

    Has anyone got any thoughts, as to how I should proceed, and if taking a legal route is actually possible?

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. sdm79

    sdm79 New commenter

    BTW should have said experienced teacher 15years + never had issues like this before, and as said it is NOT just me having problems, pretty much all teaching staff experiencing similar.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    No one should have to work under the circumstances you describe especially if there is a health and safety risk to students and staff.

    I cannot advise you from a legal perspective which is what the union should be able to do. Have you spoken with the Education Support Partnership? They may have advice.

    Why do you think the SLT have ignored this serious situation? Perhaps they do not know what to do but they are clearly failing in their management duties. They need outside expertise to help them put systems into place to deal with what you describe.
  4. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    @sdm79 I'm so sorry to hear this situation. It sounds very stressful.

    It is positive that you have a strong union and meetings staff feel able to attend. However, would I be right to think these are perhaps places where people complain and share their anger/fears/frustration but then nothing changes? Are SLT involved in these meetings at all? Or has anyone made a recommendation that you request a meeting specifically to discuss these problems? Perhaps the spokesperson or union rep should do that first to see if lines of communication can be opened up?

    You say discussion are "on-going". Are you being fobbed off here or do you genuinely feel talks are taking place? If it's the latter, then you could see how you could be involved yourself, or give it a little time to see what emerges. However, if you don't feel anything is really happening, then a formal request for SLT to attend your meetings (perhaps overwhelming to be faced with a large staff body) or for one or two spokespersons to have a meeting set up to put your worries forward. You could collect questions/concerns from staff that could be put to SLT with a time frame for a response.

    I don't think there is any harm in you speaking individually to your union as it might be useful for you personally to have some specific advice that is not coming through the filter of your internal rep.

    At this stage, getting a solicitor involved would seem like an inflammatory move. However, perhaps some of our members will have experience of this and be better able to advise on it? My feeling would be that this might be met with hostility that wouldn't improve the situation. You are very right that no-one should feel threatened in their place of work and your school leadership needs to be made aware of these problems and be taking direct action to improve the situation. An independent lawyer is perhaps a last resort after they have been given a fair chance to do this.

    What about governors? Has anyone contacted them? They should be in role to hold management to account so perhaps they could support/facilitate discussion.

    Finally, how is the school managed? Is it an academy/ local authority? There may be an additional layer of management here that could support the staff in effectively discussing the school's issues.

    I hope you get the support you need so that you can stay in your post. Good luck.
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. sdm79

    sdm79 New commenter


    Lots of good advice and information so far I really appreciate that.

    Try to answer some of the queries -

    Yes generally we trust our union reps, and often we have regional union secretaries with us for joint union meetings (approx 1 a month or every half term as needed). But of course we cannot be sure what is really going on with SLT discussions. It does seem that we are constantly being told things will improve or the unions will take some kind of action, but then nothing.

    We don't really understand why this behaviour get's overlooked - the policy is there but just not followed through and little back up. Look's great on paper though. Spineless, incompetent or lack of money/resources have all been suggestions thrown around in meetings.

    We are in limbo a little, awaiting being taken over by a new MAT so the management are interim. So there is that argument that they are not and may not actually run our school at the end of this all. But surely if they agreed to take it on for the time being they have a professional duty to run it appropriately and safely?

    I also find it remarkable how this is not kicking up more fuss among parents and the public, not sure how informed they might be from their children and I guess the staff are not keen to say much outside for obvious reasons.

    So there we have it. Any more advice or discussion, or anyone else have similar stories?
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I have worked in schools on supply like the one you describe and there are at least four fairly near me. Sadly, the country is full of them. I stopped going to particular schools because they were so awful. I know many other teachers who did the same.

    They do indeed have a professional responsibility to run the school safely.

    As the above post suggests perhaps someone could contact the governors and they could become involved in the discussions.

    How difficult is it to have a code of conduct and instructions and ensure students follow it. You are not asking for the earth - only that students treat the staff and each other with common courtesy and respect.

    No...you are not going to swear. No younare not going to run and barge into others. No you not going to disrupt the learning of others.

    How can a group of adults being paid good wages allow the students to control what is going on in their school?
    geordiepetal and sdm79 like this.
  7. I would suggest avoiding the legal route if at all possible, although contacting and discussing with your union to find out what they advise. If you go legal you may find it impacts on future employment opportunities. I think that you need to find another (teaching) job and assess whether, if this is a general trend, you are able to continue in the profession, ie whether an ambient level of poor behaviour is something you want to work with to make a living. I commiserate entirely about the behaviour - it horrifies me to think that the behaviour I've seen as a supply is replicated across the country.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Helen

    Sadly the behaviour the OP describes is in too many schools. It doesn't have to be this way. The SLT could quite easily change the culture of there school, but they have to take the step of at least trying. If all the adults work together to change things they could turn things around. It is not just imposing rules - it is taking an interest in the students, the teaching and support staff and modelling how they want people to act.

    The SLT have to be out in the teaching areas, the canteen, the play areas. They need to establish some basic rules and sanctions. I don't see how it is that difficult with a team effort.
    geordiepetal likes this.

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