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Refusing To Teach Unruly Pupils

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by spectre89, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. spectre89

    spectre89 New commenter

    A hypothetical scenario.

    A teacher is given a class in which there are up to ten unruly, abusive pupils. The pupils swear at the teacher, make threats of assault against the teacher, cause endless disruption and refuse to engage in lessons.
    This situation lasts from start of term all the way to Christmas break.

    The teacher has used every conceivable strategy in the classroom, reported the situation to head of department, guidance head, deputy year head, head teacher and finally Union Representative.

    Despite this, the teacher is still suffering verbal abuse from the pupils and the school are blatantly failing to give adequate support.

    The question is: what if the teacher refused to teach these pupils? Is this a justifiable course of action?
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    I am not sure of an answer to your question, it wanted to say you might want to post this over on the workplace dilemma forum.

    I would have thought a union representative would be able to advise on the point you raise. Threats against someone is serious and may be a police matter.

    Any teacher working in a school like the one you describe would be well advised to look for a school that is more supportive. I can't imagine even being able teach under the conditions you describe.
  3. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    I wouldn't teach a pupil who had threatened to assault me. If the school did nothing I would report the pupil to the police. Calling such behaviour "unruly" diminishes it in my opinion.

    I know you probably need the job but you have to put your own safety and health first.
  4. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    I taught in what was considered to be a good boys' school in New Zealand, that many parents were really keen to get their sons into. The advice to me was don't hesitate to boot them out. There was a referral room where such kids could spend the rest of the day, or longer. Some boys would be very regular visitors to this room.

    Any school that doesn't have such a scheme in place is a c**p school with c**p leadership. The only exception is a school where the behaviour is so good that this isn't needed: like the girls' school I also taught in.
  5. andrew07

    andrew07 Occasional commenter

    I don't find it difficult to believe that schools allow this and would offer no support as SLT and Head of Years often fawn over people such as this and believe that if they cooperate in at least three lessons, everything is else is OK. Chances are high that SLT or Pastoral Leaders are friends with guardians or parents of these girls. That was the case where I taught at for eight years (before leaving to pursue higher degrees). This teacher needs to speak with his/herunion (not school rep). Chances are extremely high that they will tell the teacher not to go back until the girls are removed. This OR, go off sick. This can AND WILL damage the teacher's mental health if s/he doesn't get this resolved. Trust me, it happened to me. I endured humiliation, bullying, etc from staff and students for EIGHT YEARS. Bottom line is that if the school isn't supporting you, speak to your union or a lawyer and don't support them. You are there to teach.
  6. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    I can't see girls being mentioned anywhere. Though Educating Cardiff was an eye-opener for me, I've invariably found that it's boys that are the problem.
    I've been saying this kind of thing for years, so it's nice to see I'm not alone. I once knew a director of studies who had come from a West London school where he considered the day had gone well if no one had been assaulted and none of the furniture had been smashed. In fairness, however, sometimes (I don't mean the OP), classroom teachers can be their own worst enemy. My nephew attends a school where the current head is enforcing very strict discipline, and only too happy to deal with miscreants that are sent to him, but a fair number of soft-touch teachers prefer to accept bad behaviour rather than send the offenders to him.
    Good advice, though what's needed is one that knows employment law. An employer has a legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment. I would think that tolerating the presence of students threatening assault is a breach of this responsibility.
  7. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    This is where the Union Rep has to step up. Because it may be morally justifiable but without other staff also refusing to teach the same pupils it becomes a highly-dodgy scenario easily resolved by putting the teacher on capability.
    Can the rep call a meeting and discuss this point? Not always easy but even harder to gather information by e-mail, small discussions.
  8. Myla

    Myla New commenter

    We have video cameras for filming lessons called 'Star Lesson' - for CPD purposes. If this happened in my school I would simply set up 'Star Lesson' and get some concrete video evidence of this happening. Then show the footage to SLT in the first instance. I've often found that they need to see it to believe it. Until then it's all theoretical.
  9. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    If any student threatened to assault a member of staff, being a senior staff or a lunch supervisor and the student doesn't have any behaviourial problems, then they would be expelled without hesitation. If a member of staff is at risk off their safety because of a student, I'd want to remove that student from the premises immediately!
    needabreak likes this.
  10. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    And also think of the good children in the class. If a doctor at A+E couldn't treat sick people because one patient was threatening him, the police would be there immediately-for the doctor's sake and that of the other patients. Point that out in writing to SLT.
  11. needabreak

    needabreak Star commenter

    We used incident report sheets to document incidents such as these and they went in triplicate to HOD, HOY and copy for your records, I guess it depends on your behaviour management procedure which should be followed to the letter and in writing so that backup is officially called for.

    In my experience one fairly inexperienced teacher didn't do this but went straight to... "I refuse to teach these three students". As it happens I was HOD teaching in another room nearby and was able to alleviate the situation by removing said students and having them in my lesson. It still required contact with parents by letter and telephone, detention both department and SLT if they missed it. The said students were not made "welcome" in my lesson and soon found that with a pincer action among staff and with parental support (in some cases), they would find behaving in their original lesson preferable to sitting in with me, since I was such a firm but fair yet fairly authoritarian no excuse kind of a HOD when need be.

    There are many ways to skin a cat (as they say). Good luck OP, perhaps the teacher could have a chat with their HOD/HOY or whatever they are called these days.

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