Teachers are being subjected to verbal threats and even physical violence outside the school gates by their pupils, a survey conducted by the NASUWT, the teachers’ union on the Isle of Man, has found.
The survey of NASUWT members highlights an alarming problem with pupil behaviour on the island which is not being recognised by management in some schools and the Isle of Man government. The NASUWT believes there is a culture of denial among ministers about the extent of the behaviour problem in Manx schools. The Union is calling on the Department of Education and Children (DEC) to ensure schools have strong powers to address poor behaviour both inside and outside the school gates.
An overwhelming majority of teachers (82%) said they had experienced verbal abuse or threats from pupils outside school premises, while almost one in ten (9%) had been subject to violence or physical threats. A similar number (8%) had received online abuse through social media sites or email.
The survey also found that disruption and poor behaviour are impacting on the time teachers spend on learning in the classroom. Nearly a third (30%) of teachers reported that up to half an hour was lost each day as a result of poor behaviour. More than one in ten (12%) teachers reported losing an hour or more of teaching time each day.
The survey also revealed a picture of poor whole-school behaviour management practices in some schools on the island. Around one in seven (15%) teachers reported their school did not have a behaviour policy in place. Over a quarter (26%) of respondents said the head teacher in their school did not act in accordance with the provisions of their school’s behaviour policy. A majority of teachers (79%) didn’t think their school’s behaviour policy was being applied consistently by all staff.
Following the survey, the NASUWT has issued a report into its findings and is calling on the DEC to discuss the issues with the Union.
NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates said:
“This survey highlights a series of deeply disturbing findings. It cannot be acceptable that the overwhelming majority of teachers are reporting they are being subject to verbal abuse and threats outside of school and some are even being attacked.
“There appears to be a widespread culture of denial with schools, key agencies and the government failing to recognise or address the problems experienced by teachers.
“Teachers are clearly saying that pupil indiscipline and poor behaviour in schools are impacting on the ability of children and young people to receive a good quality education since a significant amount of teaching time is being lost when dealing with poor behaviour in the classroom.
“Schools need to ensure they have effective behaviour policies in place and they are supporting teachers when problems arise.”
NASUWT National Executive Member for the Isle of Man, Damien McNulty, said:
“It is outrageous that some teachers are being subject to physical threats and violence, sometimes outside their own homes, just for doing their job.
“School management and the government itself must recognise the extent of the problem and ensure that support is given to teachers to protect them from threats, intimidation and violence.
“There is a clear need for all schools and agencies that deal with children and young people to address the poor behaviour of a minority, regardless of whether the poor behaviour occurs within or outside the school gates.