Teachers strike at Boston secondary school over 'poor pupil behaviour'

One source has said that entering the school classroom is like ‘stepping into a war zone’
Haven High Academy in Boston.Haven High Academy in Boston.
Haven High Academy in Boston.

Teachers at Haven High Academy have begun six days of strike action today over claims they are being left vulnerable to abuse and violence from pupils.

Some accounts from parents and teachers at the school allege that pupils have thrown chairs at staff, and ‘kicked doors in’ and that staff concerns “have not been satisfactorily addressed.”

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Teachers at the picket line at 8am this morning also told the BBC that they have been pushed, kicked and spat at by pupils, with one stating: “I spend more time protecting myself and students than teaching."

The school says it has already taken a number of steps to address issues that have been raised. They also say that Year 11 will remain open for students ahead of exams, “with all other year groups moving to a virtual timetable”.

In a statement, the teachers’ union NASUWT said the strike action was over adverse management practices, including the failure of the employer to put in place adequate measures to deal with poor pupil behaviour.

“Teachers at the school feel they are being left vulnerable to abuse and violence from pupils due to a lack of consistent sanctions for students and support from management to manage pupil behaviour,” a NASUWT spokesperson said.

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Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, added: “Teachers cannot teach and pupils cannot learn without a calm, safe and focused environment within schools. Creating such a culture starts from the top and the management at Haven High are currently failing in this responsibility to both staff and students. Teachers should not have to resort to strike action in order to secure their right to work in safety and to be protected by their employer. We once again urge management to recognise the need to work with us on this critical issue so that further strike action can be avoided.”

Anne Thompson, NASUWT National Executive Member for Lincolnshire, said: “We have made every effort to work with the employer, but the views and concerns of staff have not been satisfactorily addressed. No teacher should go to work expecting to be verbally or physically abused and we will continue to take action to protect the rights of our members to a safe working environment where the learning and progress of pupils can be prioritised.”

One source, believed to be a member of staff, said teachers had been hit by chairs and that “stepping into the classroom is like stepping into a war zone,” adding: “Behaviour policies just aren’t working.”

In a statement released yesterday, a spokesperson for Haven High said: “Prior to the Easter holidays, we wrote to our families to give them early notice that there would be proposed strike action this term. Despite our best efforts to engage in further discussion with the NASUWT over the Easter break, the planned strike action for tomorrow will be going ahead.

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“Although we have made clear to NASUWT representatives that we remain open to discussing any issues, they have not raised specific concerns about staff feeling vulnerable.

“We pride ourselves on being a very open and approachable organisation, and feedback from staff matters hugely to us. We’ve already taken a number of steps to address issues that have been raised with us – including a review of the whole behaviour policy which colleagues and union representatives contributed to.

"Specific changes include:

“Our senior leadership team and pastoral team now run all detentions to reduce workload pressure on staff;

“There is a great senior leadership team presence on corridors, with a particular focus on additional support to Tollfield in particular;

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“Mobile phones policy adjusted as a result of staff consultation, resulting in a marked reduction in behaviour incidents linked to phones; and

“Additional CCTV cameras have been ordered to include areas not already covered by the existing system, with installation to follow shortly.

“Our doors are open for further discussions and we would encourage NASUWT to raise issues directly with us so that we can explore them and find a way forward. We remain hopeful that further strike dates can be avoided and disruption to students’ education minimised.”

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