Teachers strike over pupils 'carrying knives and brawling'

Teachers have gone on strike at a school in Birmingham rated outstanding by Ofsted where they say students are carrying knives, threatening staff and brawling in classrooms.

Staff at Starbank school, in South Yardley, whose pupils range from age three to 16, have been given panic buttons and are “scared to come out of their classrooms” between lessons, according to a teaching union.

The NASUWT union, whose members began a two-day strike at the school on Thursday, said it took urgent action following concerns that pupils were bringing in knives and threatening staff.

Paul Nesbitt, the NASUWT national executive member for the West Midlands, said Starbank could be described as “a flagship school” for Birmingham “but it’s what’s going on inside that’s the problem”.

He told the Birmingham Mail: ”Many don’t think that parents are really aware of what’s going on, they don’t know that there have been knives in school.”

The school, in west Birmingham, which has been rated outstanding by Ofsted since 2012, was praised last year for its “exceptional ethos, care and quality of education”.

There were 2,072 registered primary and secondary pupils on the school roll last year after it expanded rapidly from one site to three, inspectors said. Teachers said the behaviour problems centred on the Hob Moor Road site, which opened in September 2016.

Nesbitt said one teacher had been punched in the face by a Year 7 pupil and another had been threatened with a weapon by a student who was still at the school.

He said there were “intimidating groups” across all ages at the school and that there was a regular brawl called “Thursday fight”, when there is “always a fight on the playground on a Thursday”. He said he had seen “pupils running along the corridors screaming when they should have been in class”.

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Nesbitt said: “Members are telling us they are scared to come out of their classrooms during changeovers between lessons and that they don’t want to be in the corridors because they don’t want to come across the children. They don’t feel safe in school.

“We’ve seen a lot as a union, nothing much shocks us. But we’ve felt we have to act quickly here.”

The union said teachers would strike outside the school gates from 7.30am to 9.30am and talk to parents about their concerns for the safety of staff and students. A second strike is planned for 3 July but the union hopes this will not be necessary.

The school remained open on Thursday and the executive head teacher, Satnam Dosanjh, said suitable provision had been made to ensure that lessons would continue.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the Nasuwt, said: “Strike action is a last resort for dedicated and committed teachers but there has been a failure by the employer to take seriously their professional concerns over pupil indiscipline.

“Teachers are entitled to a safe working environment and employers have a legal duty of care for their employees.”

The school has been contacted with a request for comment.



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