26 September 2006 embargoed until 11am
Teachers call for more help for difficult pupils
The Government must pay more than lip service to addressing deteriorating student behaviour, PPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti said today in her speech to PPTA’s Annual Conference.
She said deteriorating student behaviour had become a health and safety issue for many teachers and teachers saw it as one of the major deterrents to recruiting and retaining quality teachers.
“Teachers say it is getting worse. Nearly half of those who responded to our membership survey say student behaviour is worse than a year ago, compared to 10 per cent who say it’s better.
“They say they are spending more time on motivation, control and dealing with challenges to authority.
“I hear disturbing stories everywhere I go, with some teachers reluctant to do duty or even frequent corridors for fear of pushing and shoving and intimidation from students.
“I think we are at the point where we need to take a really hard look at what many teachers are putting up with in their daily working lives.
“How many professionals work daily in an environment where it is not unusual to be told to ‘eff off you dumb cow’ or threatened with “I know where you live you @%#$!&!*.”
PPTA’s conference paper Managing Challenging Student Behaviour recommends that the Association call on the Government to dramatically improve resourcing for schools to deal with difficult students, through more funding for programmes such as restorative justice, peer mediation, and alternative education.
It also proposes that guidelines be developed for branches to use when teachers feel unsafe due to threatening student behaviour, and when all other avenues have been exhausted.
“We cannot exclude all difficult students from our schools, but schools cannot serve these students well without the assistance and funding to address the range of educational, mental and medical conditions these students face.”