Teachers stage one-day strike over discipline

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Teachers at a 1,150-pupil Lancashire school went on a one-day strike over school discipline following Education Secretary Michael Gove's crackdown on classroom behaviour.

Members of both the NUT and National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers voted overwhelmingly for the one-day strike action.

The action comes after what unions claim are months of complaints about both the pupils and the school management’s way of dealing with teachers who have to enforce discipline.

Unions say complaints from members at the school include teachers being pushed, shoved and sworn at, and some pupils filming staff on mobile phones and clips being posted on Facebook.

Staff at Darwen Vale High School took part in the 24-hour walk out, claiming the headteacher has failed to back them in their attempts to quash bad behaviour at the school, particularly the use of mobile phones, with which they say pupils have recorded lessons to download to social networking websites.

Simon Jones, a local NUT official in Blackburn, said: "There is some serious and unacceptable behaviour going on and there are quite a lot of widespread issues such as smoking and mobile phone use. But what has galvanized this action is the refusal of senior management to meet us and discuss it."

One striking teacher said: "Teachers are frightened that if a pupil makes an allegation the staff member will be suspended first and investigated later. It had been a long-standing school policy before recent management changes that pupils who refused to stop using mobile phones in lesson time would have them confiscated. Now we are being told we have to hand them back if the pupils say they're sorry."

Harry Davenport, director of education at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, denied there was a serious indiscipline problem at the school and called the action disappointing.

He said: "clearly there is a need for the leadership of the school, the governors and the staff and the unions, to work together to just clarify exactly what the issues are and what actions they feel are necessary to put this right."

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