Sunday Star Times 26 April 2009
ONE-THIRD OF secondary school teachers have felt unsafe in the school playground, and one in seven primary school teachers have felt unsafe inside the classroom, a major new report reveals. The report by the New Zealand Centre for Education Research (NZCER) surveyed 666 schools, and its findings about bad behaviour, bullying and teacher safety have education leaders calling for change. The report comes hot on the heels of two high-profile attacks on teachers by students a stabbing in Auckland and an assault in Taranaki as well as reports of weapons being seized in our schools. Early last month a 17-year-old Auckland student stabbed a teacher in the back as he wrote on a whiteboard, and in December a 15-year-old Taranaki girl was suspended after her principal said she shoved a teacher to the ground and “thumped” her.
Last month Kate Gainsford, head of secondary teachers’ union the PPTA, revealed that one “very, very ordinary” New Zealand school had confiscated replica guns from its students. Other weapons picked up at the same school included nunchucks, a machete, knives, an iron bar and a baseball bat. She is sick of talking about these kinds of problems and wants the government to take action. The PPTA has already called for better pay for teachers at problem schools and for schools to be classified on a secret register as to how many violent and disruptive students they have. Gainsford fears nothing will come from the government’s school violence hui held in Wellington early last month.