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Cornish Teachers Facing Classroom Abuse

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2:43pm 24th January 2012
(Updated 2:43pm 24th January 2012)

The number of reports about Cornish secondary school teachers facing abuse reaches more than one a month.

In the last five years officials have dealt with almost 90.

30 were verbal attacks.

Nine needed hospital treatment

Duchy union representative Kathy Wallis is worried that is just the tip of the iceberg:

"I do think those figures are seriously under reported. A lot of teachers think it is a normal thing to go to work and be sworn at. I had a newly qualified teacher a couple of years ago who actually said ' I'm sorry, but I thought this was what we had to put up with'"

"We need zero tolerance. In Cornwall we're very lucky because we have a very low rate of this. But even so if you are one of those teachers who's been hit, who's been assaulted, who's been knocked over, who's been verbally abused, then that is far too many"

Kelley Butcher is the head teacher at St Hilary near Penzance. 

She says respect needs to be taught from an early age: "It gives them the building blocks for their future. It just needs to be part of what's inherent in their personality and part of everything that they do so that they grow into well rounded little human beings that respect people and the things around them.

"It's absolutely vital that, at primary school ages, they get that good grounding, and that we don't just assume that children know how to respect and how to care for things, and that we make this part of what we teach them at school, part of the curriculum and just part of everyday life."

In a statement Cornwall Council says:

“Cornwall has a very strong record of good behaviour in its schools, with a report from Ofsted inspectors last year finding behaviour to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ in all the county’s secondary schools - putting Cornwall among the top 15 authorities in England where the behaviour of students was assessed as either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.  This is the second year running that Cornwall’s 31,649 students had been found to be among the best behaved in the country. “

 “There have been 89 incidents involving pupils and staff in Cornwall’s 31 secondary schools over the past five years.  This equates to a frequency of one incident on average in a school every two years.  31 of these incidents were verbal, with the remaining 58 relatively minor in nature.  These included occasions where students became aggressive and pushed or grabbed at a member of staff and one incident where a teacher who went to break up a fight between students was accidentally caught up in the dispute.  The majority of these incidents involved cuts and bruises.  Nine members of staff were treated in hospital for minor injuries, including sprains and strains and a broken nose.  None resulted in the long term absence of staff and no weapons were involved in any of the incidents.”

 “The Council has a duty of care to both staff and students and takes all incidents very seriously.  The data shows Cornwall to be better than national averages based on our school Ofsted outcomes.   Schools in Cornwall work with a wide range of Council services, both individually and through the nationally recognised Behaviour and Attendance Partnerships.  All have clear behaviour policies in place which are agreed with students and parents and carers.  This partnership working has resulted in a dramatic drop in exclusions across the county and has been used as one of two examples of good practice in recent Government guidance.”

 

 

2:43pm 24th January 2012

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