The NASUWT is currently supporting a group of teachers at Kaimes School in Edinburgh who have had their pay stopped and have been barred from their classrooms and forced to leave the premises after engaging in a lawful trade dispute to refuse to teach or supervise a group of pupils who they believe pose a risk to their health and safety, writes Chris Keates, general secretary of the union.
No teacher, whatever type of school they teach in, should have to face routinely, day after day, physical or verbal assault, threats and malicious allegations and go to work with the expectation they will be abused.
For their employer, faced with extensive details of incidents going back months and months, to seek to dismiss the dedicated and committed teachers in this situation by saying they are simply trying to ‘pick and choose’ the pupils they teach is appalling.
Teaching is a challenging job. Every day teachers seek to do the best for the pupils. They genuinely care for the children and young people they teach, going the extra mile for them day after day. All they ask from their employer is that they have a safe environment to work in and the support and resources to do their job.
Sadly, for too many teachers physical and verbal abuse and violence is an all-too-common feature of their working days and all too often when they raise these issues they are made to feel that they, not the perpetrators are the problem. It is all too convenient for employers to blame the teachers rather than address the problem.
The fact is that where there is violence and disruption in a school, there are staff at risk and the majority of pupils are having their safety and education compromised. The pupils causing the problem clearly have underlying needs which are not being addressed. Parents and the public know this, which is why the appalling treatment of the teachers at Kaimes by the Ccuncil has caused such an outcry.
The NASUWT makes no apology for encouraging members to raise with us concerns they have about pupil indiscipline. Where an employer fails in its duty of care to protect its teachers, we will not hesitate to take all appropriate action to protect our members.
Teachers carry out one of the most important public services. They change lives and they build the future of the country. The NASUWT is proud to support them in providing the high-quality education to which all children and young people are entitled.