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Should teachers be able to refuse to teach violent and abusive pupils?

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by micgbanks, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    Edinburgh Council have just suspended a group of teachers at an Edinburgh school for refusing to teach a small group of violent and abusive pupils.

    The teachers attended work, were prepared to teach their classes and provide work for these pupils but were not allowed into their classes and will have their pay docked.

    Today an initiative was launched to attempt to reduce assaults and abuse of NHS staff. Are teachers any different?

    Should teachers be able to refuse to teach such pupils (where there is clear evidence and justification) to maintain their safety, health and well being?
    Alice K likes this.
  2. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter


    Not sure of what's happened in this case, whether an "all out cry" has gone up and everyone has downed tools. You need to be very careful - if it was me as rep making this call I'd have had the local area secretary/area rep in for discussions first and a vote amongst members before refusing to teach anyone.

    That may have happened (it's not clear) - if they have followed procedures, they've probably got a good case for their employer failing to ensure their health and safety at work.
    Alice K likes this.
  3. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    I think the union has been working with staff in the school for a fair amout of time. All teachers and probably the largest majority of the public would probably support these teachers.

    Big question would be..... is this course of action legal? I don't know and perhaps the only way to gauge would be if it went to court. If the unions lost Scottish teachers could be in a really bad position.
    install likes this.
  4. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter

    What I find quite unusual is that those concerned have been effectively suspended without pay. Ironically if you thumped a kid, you may lose your job, but you'd probably still get suspended on pay until a disciplinary hearing. These teachers were trying to avoid getting thumped.

    The apparently turned up for work - just refused to deal with certain kids. I don't think we're hearing the full story (on both sides) and as you say it will probably end up in some type of hearing or tribunal.
    sicilypat likes this.
  5. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    There's already a thread on this subject.
  6. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    Yea but it's not clear from the title what it is
  7. MilkyBar Kid

    MilkyBar Kid Occasional commenter

    As has been said there is probably more to this than meets the eye. Where was the EIS in all this? Why did the other remaining staff agree to teach them? I suspect some staff are getting the thick end of the wedge regarding their timetables (no surprise here then!) All of these pupils will have multi-agency input with detailed behavioural/de-escalation strategies for those with a history of violence. It is very difficult to cope with even one pupil like this, seeking to familiarise yourself with all the strategies that have been drawn up in a cosy meeting by people who never had to deal with the pupil on a daily basis. Lawyers will be trawling through the "evidence" as we speak, I hope the NASUWT have done their homework and can build a case to take to court. If unions are not prepared to support you and take this to court then you begin to wonder "what's the point?"
    JohnJCazorla and micgbanks like this.
  8. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    If I remember correctly the NASUWT are the only union that will support a teacher in refusing to teach certain pupil(s): the EIS and SSTA won't - correct?
  9. Dominieredivivus

    Dominieredivivus New commenter

    Your contract requires you to teach assigned classes. It would not be advisable for a union to support members who break their contract without a ballot for such action.
    install likes this.
  10. ladywholunch

    ladywholunch New commenter

    We need more details on the Edinburgh situation. However union advice is usually to have a school discipline policy in place that directly details the procedure to follow by all rank and file adult staff.
    This would detail “one off” incidents of verbal abuse (and parameters would need agreed - is “Oh for ckuf’s sake” under the breath as serious as a shouted “ckuf off!”?)
    This would also detail the procedure for physical abuse.
    Any person can report any offensive incident for investigation to the police, you don’t need management “permission”.
    Refusal to teach *can* only occur in cases where the pupil(s) has/have been risk assessed as a major cause for concern. Then the HT, DHT in charge of pupil support and teachers need to draft an agreed PLP.
    All over Scotland there are many ASN bases and units whose lip service to policy in the outside world belies the incompetence/indifference of managers (ASN headships/PTships are still bestowed as near grace and favour jobs from what I hear and experience)
    Inclusion seems to be a manager or council official in charge providing a cloud of total BS over proceedings themed along the lines of “Och, they’re just weans, think of the weans!”
    ASN establishments need overhauled. CAMHS need to be ON SITE. Police or security need to be ON SITE! Health professionals need to be ON SITE!!!
    There is no structural model for ASN bases and units. Inclusion policy is oblique beyond breaking barriers and differentiating to allow access to education - and what on Earth does that mean?

    “You bloody deal with it!*door slam*” is, as facetious as it may sound, the subliminal edict from higher ups to unpromoted staff. I hope the Edinburgh situation triggers long needed solutions and action that even the unions have eschewed.
    Alice K, JohnJCazorla, ozlass and 2 others like this.
  11. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    I'm not sure about the EIS and SSTA. NASUWT has has had numerous cases of refusal to teach down south and a couple in Scotland. One in Bannerman and another in a school in North Lanarkshire. Both of which were resolved before getting to this stage.

    I don't imagine either the union or the council would want this going to court as both have too much to lose. It will be a compromise which still leaves teachers in Scottish schools in a difficult position in future. Perhaps if NASUWT are successful in this school the other unions will follow suit and offer support. I suppose somebody has to test the waters as elmost everybody agrees that physical and verbal assaults on teachers is unacceptable no matter which educational sector you work in.
  12. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    Your right but in this case there has been a ballot and quote a few weeks of negotiation
  13. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    In reflection, I think that both the union and the council may be reluctant to take this to a judgement as both have too much to lose. Negotiated compromise is more probable. Longer term where does that leave the rest of us?
  14. Dominieredivivus

    Dominieredivivus New commenter

    That seems unclear and if so, would seem to be belied by the fact that the teachers turned up for work rather than picket the school. It may be that the union was indulging in brinkmanship, expecting CEC to back down. If so, it was a mistake.
  15. sicilypat

    sicilypat New commenter

    I don't know enough about this school but I do know that in my LA there is a policy to create some larger ASN schools to accommodate students with autism who are deemed to be too disruptive to be educated in units within the area. It is not only teachers who are assaulted by students, but more often PSAs who generally accept bites and bruises as part of the job. There is a culture of acceptance of violence because the perpetrator is deemed to be without malice. This is generally true, and I would rarely blame an autistic child for an outburst, but staff need to be protected. Smaller schools, more akin to therapeutic units would help. But financial constraints always get in the way. The bottom line for me though is that staff (teachers or PSAs) should never accept assaults as part of the job, in mainstream or ASN. To do otherwise fails both staff and more importantly students as it fails to address systemic failures.
  16. Gavster77

    Gavster77 Occasional commenter

    The Kaimes teachers’ situation exemplifies the plight of many ASN units, if not mainstream faculties and departments. However NASUWT have messed up majorly here. Advising members to point blank refuse to teach without any meetings with management was only going to end in the staff being deemed in breach of contract. The staff’s pay is then withheld. Catastrophe. The EIS have their flaws but they’d have mediated better and the Kaimes wildcat action has set back the debate about violence in schools - especially as the A8 legislation restricting the days and reasons HTs can exclude disruptive pupils was just sneakily passed by ScotGov
    install, sicilypat and Effinbankers like this.
  17. install

    install Star commenter

    If a teacher feels the lives and safety of other students are in danger than that teacher should follow School policy. And in some policies that may include - pressing the alarm, getting 'call out', getting security, getting support, and so on.

    Teachers in some schools should get :

    1 Danger Money
    2 Body cams
    3 Metal detectors
    4 An onsite Security Officer:cool:
  18. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    I can't believe how inaccurate and misleading your post is here. NASUWT have liaised with Kaimes/LA for almost three months I believe. A ballot was done and this action was only actioned after full discussion with members and based on nasuwt experience in this type of case both down south and taking into account a couple of cases in Scotland. Nothing changes if someone does not take a stand. I don't work in this sector but for the staff in that school, work can be a serious challenge to their safety, health and wellbeing - no matter which union they belong to. Long term negoriations between union and LA have been ongoing over a protracted time period. Slating NASUWT for making a stand and supporting their members while holding up other unions who haven't done anything in this case, as far as I'm aware, as a better option is a bit rich! Do nothing and nothing changes. Staff resign or are off long term with stress. That doesn't benefit the teachers, the school, the pupils in the school or the unions.
    install and JohnJCazorla like this.
  19. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    Getting "security"?
  20. install

    install Star commenter

    Some schools have 'Security officers' :rolleyes:
    bigjimmy2 likes this.

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