Saturday, December 10, 2005

Paint the windows black

From the Scotsman:
"MORE than 34 assaults on teachers and other school staff take place in Scotland's classrooms every day of the academic year, an investigation by The Scotsman has revealed.

Figures obtained from the majority of Scotland's local authorities show that there were more than 6,500 physical and verbal attacks on teaching and non-teaching staff in 2004-5 - an increase of 5.5 per cent on the year before.

Last night, academics, union leaders and opposition politicians said ministers must do more to combat the rising tide of pupil violence in the classroom."
This information isn't centrally recorded, the Scotsman had to contact each council individually...
"Peter Peacock, the education minister, caused controversy two years ago when he announced that the Scottish Executive would no longer be publishing the council figures because he believed the data was unreliable. Critics accused him of attempting to conceal the true extent of the problem."
Surely not? Some councils argued that the figures were distorted because verbal assaults were included in the data. My own view is that the figures are distorted by the failure to record some incidents at all. As Pat O'Donnell of the NASUWT pointed out:
"It is a real problem and there is an upward trend," he said. "Some local authorities still discourage teachers from filling in the violent-incident report form, so it's probably under-reported."
Not just local authorities - the senior management of schools, keen to avoid any bad publicity, also do this. I know for a fact that this incident has still not been recorded and this one only was because the victim took matters into his own hands and contacted the police himself.

In this it's the Tories and the SNP who are fighting the teacher's corner, the Lab/Lib coalition don't seem to want to know. As Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, the education spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said:
"It is clear why ministers were so keen to scrap the publication of these statistics. We need to give headteachers the power to exclude violent and disruptive pupils, but no matter how much evidence stacks up in favour of this view, the Executive seems determined to ignore it."
The Executive's approach to education in this country reminds me of a joke from the Soviet Union I once heard. Lenin, Stalin and Breshnev are on a train that is late departing from the station and shows no sign of doing so in the near future. Lenin calls for the guard who is very apologetic.

"Re-educate those responsible", barks Lenin.

The guard goes away, comes back and says, "Those responsible have been re-educated, Comrade Lenin, but the train still isn't moving".

Stalin says, "Shoot the driver and the engineers".

The guard goes away and comes back and announces, "The driver and the engineers have been executed, Comrade Stalin, but the train still isn't moving.

Breshnev says, "Paint the windows black and tell everyone we're moving".

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