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Violence endemic in English schools?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by lanokia, Nov 15, 2015.

  1. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter


    One teacher worries about the epidemic in student violence towards school staff
    Vincent Uzomah. Have you heard of him? If you haven’t, it wouldn’t be a surprise. Apart from a few unremarkable news bulletins, his recent stabbing at the hands of a disgruntled pupil at Dixons Kings Academy in Bradford has been largely ignored, even though it should serve as a wake-up call for a complacent profession and an indifferent public.

    According to the most recent figures, there were 17,190 fixed-term exclusions for physical assault on an adult and 50,630 for threatening behaviour towards an adult in 2012-13. Only 920 pupils, however, were permanently excluded for similar offences during the same period.

    What do these disturbing statistics tell us? Well, not only do they highlight the fact that violence in our schools is endemic, they also, on closer inspection, show why the phenomenon is so widespread.

    Does this ring true with you or over-egging it?
  2. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    It's true. I've said as much and some prefer to deny it. I am now recording incidents as they happen. The worst of it is the number of schools who attempt to sweep these things under the carpet.
  3. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I recall being shot at with an air pistol about 6 years ago. One day internal exclusion [off timetable in a room].

    Last year I was punched in the face by one lad ~ he was messing about with a friend ... One day internal exclusion, no apology, boy refused to accept he'd done anything wrong. Witnessed by an Assistant Head.

    So I'd agree, violence is a problem. I was largely a respected member of staff [among the pupils]. I walked into a room, kids went quiet. So if I was getting punched... dread to think what others were getting.
  4. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Lanokia, read your last post again. I think it should make you feel a lot better about your current employment situation. What you describe is insane.
    lanokia likes this.
  5. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Today, the press were reporting that bullying in schools is at an all time low. If true, this is to be celebrated. However, I now work with children who have been bullied, so the problems have not gone away completely.

    Where I previously worked, the big fights that used to affect school life when I was a pupil and when I was working in the '80s seemed to have disappeared. The school did not seem violent. However one school is not characteristic of all, and I would not wish to deny Lanokia's experience.
  6. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Yeah, does make me wonder why I was ever feeling down...
  7. sirspamalotless

    sirspamalotless Occasional commenter

    In my academy in a deprived area, we have a small number of kids who are very violent in all kinds of ways. I'm all for inclusion, but they went past the limit of what you should be able to get away with years ago. Of more concern to me is the significant minority of students who cannot behave; shouting out, getting out of seats to thump someone, calling across the classroom, switching computers off when I'm not looking etc. these students cause so much damage to the vast majority of children who want to learn, and even worse is a senior team, who don't want to recognise that few teachers either understand or can follow their muddled behaviour policy. New staff aren't trained up and old staff have given up because following the policy creates far more work for them than they have the time for. If ever there was a job that OFSTED could do that might actually be constructive and helpful, it would be to pick this up in schools and fail schools if they don't have a well-drawn up policy in place that all staff follow, that is enforced by SLT, in which staff are regularly trained in, including new members.
  8. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    Part of the issue is often senior staff who consider the teacher to be the problem more than the child who has misbehaved. Ignoring the fact that they hardly ever see the child, never teach the child and that the child knows they have the power to make their life unpleasant in ways that the classroom teacher who has the "problems" never could, so oddly enough they behave for the manager during those 5 min "chats" they have.

    Every year group in every school I ever worked at had these children, they bounced off the walls every day until they bounced out the door, they were never more than contained at best, and usually not even that.
    monicabilongame and cissy3 like this.
  9. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I use to be a pastoral leader, had a problematic year 11 boy. He'd been a problem for years, we'd done everything, followed all the systems etc.

    Well a member of SLT took him away, had a 30 min chat with him and boom he was cured!

    Or at least in the eyes of SLT. The boy continued to misbehave but now SLT weren't interested... because they'd had a chat.
  10. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    I think the reason the number of permanent exclusions is so low is down to OFSTED and Government policy.

    In the 90s I looked at a lot of OFSTED reports and the number of exclusions were noted and commented upon (below, average, above). The comment, if the number was above average, was usually about how the exclusion policy was integrated with the general behaviour policy and no negative judgement was made if this was so. Even if the HT had excluded students without the proper paperwork this was usually noted with a mild admonishment. Negative comments were reserved for when OFSTED could not see a link between the exclusions and the rest of the behaviour policy.

    At about the same time as this, we had a new HT who immediately started complaining about the pressure being put upon him by LEA advisors. (you can't exclude, if you exclude too much this will be seen as a failing school, high number of exclusions is a sign of a failing school etc) This was even though, at the time, I had never seen such a comment in an OFSTED report even for schools with "very high" exclusions.

    The Government then changed policy over the way exclusions were handled and there seemed to be an edict issued that a change in the number of exclusions would trigger an OFSTED. This particularly affect new HTs coming into a school and I saw several schools affected in this way whilst on supply. This is probably what caused the drive to more internal exclusion.

    What angers me is that you see in surgeries, dentists and hospitals signs about zero tolerance of abuse of staff. You even see them in shops but rarely in schools, except sometimes behind the receptionist who deals with parents. Certainly, I have never seen one behind the teacher in a classroom. It seems other people need not tolerate abuse but teachers are fair game. I remember, in the 80s, there was outrage at a judge who, at the trial of a student assaulting a teacher, told the teacher concerned that they must expect to be assaulted at least once in their career.

    Teachers should be afforded the same protection as everyone else and shouldn't be blamed because "they didn't manage to walk on water on this occasion".
    AliceInSunderland and cissy3 like this.
  11. xena-warrior

    xena-warrior Star commenter

    There cannot be a generalisation here. The last school but one I worked in, physical violence towards staff, if not a daily offence, was certainly more than one a week. Verbal aggression was hourly. In my present school, there has been one incidence of aggression from a pupil to a member of staff in two years, and he was a boy with documented multiple BESD.
    irs1054 and cissy3 like this.
  12. cissy3

    cissy3 Star commenter

    I've worked at many schools (supply, short term contracts etc) where behaviour is as described in the above posts. Often covering for teachers off with stress.

    IME , the worse the general behaviour was, the higher the amount of paperwork was expected, as if to say,'' look at us, what a wonderfully informed school we are (but don't look at behaviour!''

    One of the problems is that many teachers work in places where the pupils are pleasant, and a joy to teach. (As have I) But I don't think they'd believe some of the stories I could tell!

    ETA xena, that's exactly what I mean. But does that then condemn all the staff who work in **** holes to just put up with it?
  13. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    The biggest problem in the challenging school where I worked for many years was that staff followed the Behaviour Policy to the letter, but when the sanctions were escalated to involve the HT - he failed to follow the policy. So violent children were rarely internally excluded or sent to a partner school for a day or two, let alone permanently excluded. In the rest of the children's eyes, the child had got away with his / her violence. No wonder behaviour deteriorated.
  14. xena-warrior

    xena-warrior Star commenter

    No, cissy, but when I started teaching there was the SPA (Social priority allowance). It was there to acknowledge, without kissing the ass of political correctness, that some schools are harder to teach in for social/cultural/class-related reasons than others. You took the job, and the extra £2K a year (which was a lot then), you put up with the sh*t and no-one expected you to turn out 55% A*-Cs.
    Now it's supposed to be some mythical kind of level playing field because they tossed the PP at it. Unbelievable. And yet so believable.
    The school I work at now - people pay over £300K for a 3bdr semi under the flight path just so their kids can go there. They throw money at the school for sports kit, charity events, extra-curricular activities. But the previous one? We had a family who pimped out the kids to paedophiles. We had kids who smoked weed and dealt on the premises. We had kids whose sisters and mother had been raped in front of them before being shot, and then came over here on a boat. How could ANYONE call that a level playing field? And expect teachers to achieve the same results and their schools to be called failing?
    cissy3 likes this.
  15. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    Whilst the rest of your post makes sense to me, I cannot accept that in England in 2015 there still are teachers within our profession (sic) who do not know what is happening in the majority of bogStandard [thank you Alistair&Tony] schools.
  16. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    But given the resolute and long-standing connivance of politicians and parents, aka "voters," not to mention some of our own profession [sic], it is, as you subsequently attest "only too believable."

    ***** wept.
  17. cissy3

    cissy3 Star commenter

    I can only speak anecdotally, but I have met many teachers who have no idea.

    xena-warrior and lanokia like this.
  18. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    They found a way to reduce the recorded incidents of bad behaviour at my last long-term school.

    When I started there they had an exclusion room that held 25 pupils. A teacher was on duty all the time (different teacher every lesson). There were (deliberately) boring worksheets . You could send a pupil out of your lesson once they had committed 4 'minor' offences or earlier if they were verbally abusive or obviously 'kicking off'.
    IF THEY MISBEHAVED IN THE EXCLUSION ROOM, THEY WERE PUT IN EVENING DETENTION. They returned to their timetabled lessons after the hour (or less) in the room.

    After a year when everyone knew that GCSE results would be poor (particularly poor intake that was the last one from a small catchment area), the school was given notice to improve.
    One of the targets was to improve behaviour and reduce the numbers being sent to exclusion.

    SLT immediately arranged for the Exclusion room to be partitioned, creating an office and a room able to take 14 pupils. If the room was full, your ejected pupil was returned and never logged in the Exclusion room register.

    Later that year the room was shrunk again and held 7 pupils, with a small table for the supervising teacher.

    Lo and behold the school had the data to show a remarkable turnaround in behaviour!

    Strangely, the teachers' abilites to keep an orderly classroom deteriorated in direct correlation with the pupils' improvement in behaviour! Apparently better pupil conduct resulted in poorer class management!
    The results the following year were the best the school had ever achieved. Everyone had been expecting that for 5 years as they'd registered a very good intake from a more diverse catchment area.
    The school improvement partner took the credit (and the Head)!.

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