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Any violence in schools unacceptable

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Media Release

2 July 2003

Any violence in schools unacceptable

Violence of any kind against teachers and students is unacceptable, PPTA president Phil Smith said today.

He was commenting on an incident at Rotorua Girls’ High School in which a female student set fire to her science teacher’s hair. The student has since been suspended.

Mr Smith said the incident was extremely serious and “a timely reminder that schools need policies which protect teachers and students from physical and emotional harm.

“Schools should treat any incident involving violence against teachers and students very seriously and where necessary, get support from outside agencies,” he said.

He said PPTA was committed to eliminating violence and the union’s Women’s Advisory Council was developing a kit to assist branches to work with their Boards of Trustees to develop their own policies.

The kit encourages schools and colleges to consult with their wider school community and develop policies which provide supportive environments free from discrimination and harassment and which promote personal respect and physical and emotional safety.

New health and safety legislation also placed the onus on school boards to work with their staff to elect health and safety representatives and develop strategies which prevented violence and protected teachers and students, Phil Smith said.

“Under the Health and Safety Amendment Act, this student’s behaviour would be considered a hazard. Even if she returned to school, teachers would still consider her a risk to teach without strong evidence she had modified her behaviour.”

Mr Smith said that anecdotally violence against teachers was rising and there was a danger it would deter people considering teaching as a profession.

“We often hear officials espousing the virtues of best teaching practice without considering the wider environment in which teaching and learning takes place. For teaching to be successful, we need students who take responsibility for their behaviour and are willing to learn just as much as we need very capable teachers.”

Ends

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