Thursday 16 August 2018

Student threatened to 'kick the baby out' of pregnant teacher

Audrey Cepeda
Audrey Cepeda
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

A student who threatened a pregnant teacher and told her he would "kick the baby out" was back in the classroom the next day, a teachers' union conference heard.

The frightened teacher fled the classroom and she locked herself in a side room and rang the school office when the student followed her.

The incident started when the teacher challenged the student over misbehaviour.

Audrey Cepeda told the annual conference of the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) that the student was suspended three weeks later, but that "was not good enough".

She added: "If there are going to be consequences, it is much better that it happens very quickly."

Ms Cepeda said teachers felt unsupported and the failure of schools and other educational settings to implement codes of behaviour and a "blatant disregard of health and safety procedures" was causing growing levels of work-related stress.

TUI general secretary John MacGabhann told the Irish Independent that such incidents were not the norm, but a small minority of schools were affected by student violence.

"We don't want to be alarmist about this but we want to nail the problem where it occurs,

"In some instances, school management simply do not discharge their obligations, either in terms of applying their own procedures," he added.

Ms Cepeda, chair of TUI Dublin City branch, detailed a litany of aggressive and violent incidents, which were now daily occurrences.

"Some of them are quite bad, teachers would have objects thrown at them, nuts and bolts, cans of coke, coins, some might be pushed.

"Some may be physically assaulted before someone gets a chance to intervene."

She continued: "Sometimes it is verbal assault where students could be inches from the teacher's face, threatening them in front of class and they don't know if it is going to escalate further.

"Sometimes, a student might swing for a teacher and may not connect but the following day that student could be sitting back in front of you."

She said teachers will report such incidents to management and ask for certain codes of behaviour to be implemented but feel they are disregarded.

Ms Cepeda said they were often left feeling that it was their fault, that it was their management style or that they hadn't imposed discipline and may be told that they needed some upskilling.

A motion adopted by the conference commits the unions to establish the extent of work-related stress due to indiscipline, violence and breaches of health and safety in their schools and other educational centres, and how school managements were dealing with it.

Meanwhile, the conference also voted unanimously not to comply with a Department of Education directive to provide alternative classes to students in community schools and community colleges who opt out of religion, from next September, unless extra staffing is provided.

Irish Independent

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