Concerns growing over violent incidents at SW schools

Emily AceSouth Western Times

South West teachers and union officials this week banded together in an effort to address escalating violence in the region’s schools.

South West teacher Bill Kilner, who has worked in the profession for 35 years, said it was troubling that when students were violent towards teachers, it was often the teacher who was reprimanded for their reaction.

“Instances of violence are being investigated by the standards and integrity directorate without taking into consideration the actions of students,” Mr Kilner said.

“What we have found is that kids have more power now – they walk into a class and say ‘you can’t touch me’.

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“It is creating an unsafe environment because we have a duty of care and need to be able to exercise control to be able protect ourselves, other students and property if needed.

“We want teachers to be recognised as public officers, so if they are assaulted there is a mandatory result – not jail time, but there needs to be a consequence for bad behaviour.

Union vice president Samantha Schofield said cuts to the education budget had led to greater pressure on schools.

“Our teacher and school leader members are telling us, as a result of budget cuts, it’s become harder to support students in their schools, particularly those who exhibit a range of defiant, oppositional and or aggressive behaviours,” she said.

“Student behaviour and violence against teachers continues to be an issue in WA classrooms.”

Last week the union endorsed an “in-principle” agreement with the Department of Education which addressed some of concerns.

“The EBA offer has addressed some of our concerns regarding violence against teachers and principals, with an agreement to amend the Keeping Our Workplace Safe document to require compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations to report injuries or harm to the health of employees, have an at-risk management plan for hazards at the workplace including violence and to identify these hazards by assessing the risk and implementing effective control measures,” Miss Schofield said.

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