This story is everywhere at the moment, and rightly so. Teachers at Darwen Vale High School, which is in Lancashire where I live, are on strike, with full union support, because of student behaviour. The news articles linked to below state that they are regularly physically attacked, subject to malicious accusations and are filmed and put onto the internet.
I looked for information, for more personal accounts, of the suffering that teachers at that school are going through, but this is all that is mentioned. I can only imagine what it's like for them: going to work in the morning feeling utterly powerless, undermined and being in real physical danger.
Even in the army and in the police, when there are physical threats, staff are fully supported and even given the necessary praise and boosts to self esteem that are needed to perform well in a situation like that. Can you imagine if our police went out to arrest criminals knowing they will be released by a senior manager straight away, and they will then be made responsible for that person's criminal behaviour?
It just wouldn't happen anywhere else, in any other similar situation, and this adds more support to the argument that working conditions in education are worse than in any other industry.
What do the teachers want to happen as a result of the strike action? The senior management are strongly being blamed for the situation, and most articles are citing the example that the mobile phones used maliciously in class are being confiscated by teachers and handed back by senior management.
They might as well be saying, "Here you are, do whatever you want to my staff." They are not upholding their Duty of Care, to staff, or students who are witness to such behaviour, and it amounts to negligence.
And how the hell have Ofsted managed to grade the school's behaviour as 'Good', just last year? I refuse to believe that a problem this bad can occur in that space of time, so it must have been like this at inspection.
I also refuse to believe that a problem this bad can just be swept under the carpet at inspection and they didn't witness any of it. They must have seen it, and graded it Good. I also don't think that it is the mark scheme that is wrong, as schools that recieve unsatisfactory are clearly not as bad as this one.
I think either something more is going on within senior management and within the inspection team that visited the school that we don't know about, or, more likely that the grading scheme is just too subject to personal opinion and can be twisted to suit someone's personal agenda.
Darwen is not inner city, and is not deprived, or any of the other demographics that you would expect a school with behaviour this bad to be like. It is a normal school, in a normal small town. I think you will see more of this type of action from now on, and I am so interested to follow this story to see it's outcome.
I would love to say that we need change and revolution, and this could be the start of it. But there is too much reform and constant change, as I have written about before (Top 10 Reasons To Leave Teaching: Number 3: Endless Government Schemes). Instead, what I hope for is for that this will help to form that change into the right shape.