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Teachers assualted by primary children

TEACHERS in both primary schools and post-primary schools right across Fermanagh are being attacked by pupils, it has been revealed.
Figures published by investigative website thedetail.tv last week showed there were well over 100 pupils suspended at schools of all levels here in the county during the 2016/17 academic year.
The reasons given for these suspensions included around 10 instances of “physical attack on staff”, including two such instances at local primary schools.
Other reasons for suspension included physical attacks on other pupils, verbal abuse, stealing, substance abuse, and damaging school property.
Justin McCamphill, national officer at teachers’ union NASUWT, believes the reason for so many suspensions is down to education budget cuts.
“It isn’t that we think children are inherently more violent,” said Mr McCamphill. “The increase in the figures are down to budget cuts that have taken place in schools. Because class sizes are getting bigger and there isn’t support being put in place for those children who do have behavioural problems, that’s leading to an increase in the number of attacks on teachers and other pupils. That’s where I would put the blame for it.”
Simon Mowbray, principal of Devenish College where 18 pupils were suspended last year, did not fully agrees stating their class sizes remained small and classroom assistant numbers high. In fact, the number of suspensions has actually fallen dramatically at the school in recent years.
Instead Mr Mowbray believes the pressures of the modern world are the driving factor in many behavioural cases.
“Social media and its impact would be a major concern we would have within the school because quite often we’re dealing with things that have happened outside school that carry and make their way back into school,” said Mr Mowbray.
“If you take bullying, for example. When I was at school if you were being bullied at school, once you left and went home there was an element of respite. Whereas nowadays, because everybody is connected by social media, there’s no escape from it really.”
Mr Mowbray said the majority of pupils suspended were only suspended the once, and that almost all suspensions were down with the full cooperation of the parents and a pupil returns, the school make holds a meeting with both pupil and parents to agree a way forward.
He added: “It’s a very small proportion of pupils that would be suspended. It’s generally a very short, sharp sanction for very serious behaviour. In some cases it’s simply because it’s too serious.”
One point Mr Mowbray wanted to note was, despite the information published by The Detail, there had been no physical attack on staff at Devenish College.


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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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