Teachers strike in row over discipline

TEACHERS have taken part in a one-day strike at a secondary school in a row over the level of support for staff when dealing with disruptive pupils.

Members of two teaching unions at Darwen Vale High in Darwen, Lancashire, say they are angry over “a lack of backing” from the management at the school when they confront unruly children.

The industrial action comes days after Education Secretary Michael Gove pledged to give teachers more power to deal with poor behaviour in the classroom.

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Around 70 teachers with placards picketed the school gates yesterday as pupils had a free day.

Local National Union of Teachers official Simon Jones said: “This is not a strike against pupils. It is about management, and management failure to support staff in dealing with challenging behaviour.

“No one wants to demonise the children here, they are no better or no worse than any other.

“The biggest difference between this school and others is the management failure to support staff.”

Members of both the NUT and National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers voted overwhelmingly for the one-day strike.

The action comes after what unions claim are months of complaints from members about both the pupils and the school management’s way of dealing with teachers who have to enforce discipline in the classroom. Their complaints include teachers being pushed, shoved and sworn at.

Unions also claim some children have realised that if they are disciplined they can make a complaint about a teacher’s behaviour to get that member of staff suspended.

Harry Devonport, director of education at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “I am very disappointed that, so quickly, teachers have felt the need to take strike action. There have only been two meetings to discuss this.

“I am saying we have got to this position very quickly without a clear understanding of what the concerns are about.”