Responsibility for poor pupil behaviour ‘lies in the home’


Fly-on-the-wall documentaries that lay bare the challenges faced by teachers are “holding a mirror” to Northern Ireland secondary classrooms.

The Ulster Teachers’ Union (UTU) say parents would be naïve to think problems teachers in England have to tackle stop at the Irish Sea.

The latest television show, Educating the East End, focuses on the 11 to 16 comprehensive Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow.

UTU general secretary Avril Hall Callaghan says such documentaries seem to have struck a chord with the viewing public.

She says they reveal the kinds of challenges facing teachers on a daily basis.

“In the programmes we see teachers coping with many situations, from facing abusive pupils and parents to pastoral care issues,” she said.

“None of these issues stops at the Irish Sea – you can be assured that what goes on in an east end class is just as likely to happen in its east Belfast counterpart.”

Ms Hall Callaghan said that many viewers are shocked by the lack of respect from some young people for their teachers and the level of abuse and aggression.

Last year there were close to 3,000 suspensions in the North’s secondary schools – a quarter of which were for physical or verbal abuse of staff.

While this is a slight reduction on the previous year, unions say there are still far too many incidents.

“For too long the solution for poor behaviour and bad attitudes among teenagers has been expected from schools, when in fact the schools can do little unless these issues are first tackled in the home,” she added.

“I hope that by allowing parents a fly-on-the-wall look at what goes on for the six hours their children are in school every day, they will see the importance of working with teachers to educate their children and help them become rounded adults.”



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