Teachers to get help to curb pupil violence


Teachers to get help to curb pupil violence


Last updated 05:00 18/08/2009

The Government plans to curb schoolyard misbehaviour as new figures reveal a growing number of attacks on teachers and pupils.

Ministry of Education figures released yesterday show expulsions as a result of physical assaults on other pupils rose from 9.4 per cent of all expulsions in 2000 to 25.3 per cent last year.

Expulsions for assaults on staff have increased from 3.1 per cent of the total in 2000 to 6.5 per cent last year.

Last year, 15,930 pupils were stood down a total of 20,279 times. The rate of stand-downs 28.5 pupils per 1,000 was lower than in 2007 but equal or higher than in five of the previous eight years.

A pupil at Auckland’s Avondale College faces jail after he stabbed teacher David Warren in the back on March 3. Warren, originally from Christchurch, is understood to have returned to work part-time but faces months of rehabilitation.

Tae Won Chung, 17, has been convicted of injuring Warren and will be sentenced next month.

Education Ministry acting manager for schools and pupil support Joanne Allen said the Avondale College case was “very extreme”, and there had been no similar attacks since.

“It may be something that is minor. It might be that a child is lashing out when they’re angry and sort of having an angry fit, and the teacher gets hit or a child gets hit in the process,” she said. “It could be as much as a child and another child having a fight and the teacher getting in the middle. There is a whole range of issues.” Education Minister Anne Tolley has told Auckland principals that a plan had been prepared after a summit on behaviour in March. “Our approach to these issues in the past may have been well-intended, but the results have been mixed and too reliant on strength of personalities to achieve results,” she said.

“We need to improve support for teachers and schools and make wide-ranging improvements to services.” The Press understands the use of resource teachers of learning behaviour will be reviewed and teacher-training institutes will be asked to improve training in behaviour management.

Schools will be given formation on how they can deal with extreme behaviour.

Principals’ Federation president Ernie Buutveld said: “The problem is not going to go away. What we’re looking for is better answers, and it may be that you have to endure these stats a little bit longer.” The new figures “might prompt some speeding up” of measures, he said.