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Teachers set to strike as row over claims of violence from pupils escalates

24 Oct 2023 3 minute read
Caldicot Comprehensive School. Photo via Google

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

Teachers are due to strike or the third time tomorrow (25 October) as a row over claims of violence from pupils escalates.

Members of both the NASUWT and NEU teaching unions at Caldicot School will refuse to attend tomorrow as they say they don’t feel safe to teach at the 1,300 pupil secondary due to the behaviour of some pupils and have criticised the response from the school’s leadership.

Members of the NASUWT staged strike action on September 21 and September 20 and the union has now announced they will be taking part in strike action on Wednesday, October 25.

The NEU confirmed in July its members had indicated support for strike action on health and safety grounds due to violence from pupils.

Previous action has forced the school to close and it is believed it will also have to close its gates to students tomorrow as it can’t be sure it will have enough staff though there is no confirmation of the strike action on the school website.

NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach blamed the school’s governing body for failing to resolve the dispute and management practices at the school.

He said: “The failure of the governing body to invest time and effort in talks to resolve this dispute is what is responsible for today’s strike action disruption.

“Our members want to see their employer seriously taking steps to address the adverse management practices that continue to affect the health, safety and welfare of staff and pupils.”

The union had previously suggested concerns about behaviour hadn’t been taken seriously by the school’s leadership and teaching and lesson planning were criticised in response.

Aggressive behaviour

The union’s national official for Wales Neil Butler said: “Teachers must be able to teach without facing violent and aggressive behaviour. Parents of pupils at the school will also be concerned about how these behaviours impact upon their own children.

“The NASUWT is calling upon the local authority to use its powers of intervention. The governors seem to have given up. The local authority must take control – not stand by and watch.

“The dispute has now escalated to another education union taking action. It is time to intervene.”

The NEU also said talks between the unions and school had failed to make any progress.

Senior Wales officer for NEU Cymru, Debbie Scott, said: “Our members are sending a clear message to the school that they will not tolerate threats to the health, safety and well-being of themselves or their pupils.

“The employer is failing to provide appropriate support to staff in dealing with violent and abusive behaviour. A number of NEU members have had to take time off with stress due to these behaviour issues, and the school has had to employ a number of supply teachers which costs money which would otherwise help the pupils’ education.

“Our members are taking this action for pupils as well as staff as several pupils have also reported that they feel intimidated and are unhappy at school due to behaviour of other children.

“Teachers cannot teach, and pupils cannot learn, in an environment where there is disruption and violence, and our members will continue to take action until these issues have been dealt with appropriately.”

Monmouthshire Council has been approached for comment.

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