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Education in the media: 21 June 2016

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Behaviour, School places

Today’s education news review looks at a survey by UNISON about violence in the classroom, reports on school places and stories on tackling radicalisation in schools.

Violence in schools

Today the public service trade union, UNISON, has published a survey which suggests that just over half of teaching assistants said they had experienced physical violence in the past year, while three out of four had witnessed incidents.

The Sun has a briefly covered the story in print and the Guardian, the Express, the Mirror, the TES and Schools Week have covered the story online.

We are absolutely clear that violence in any form is unacceptable and has no place in schools.  That’s why the education secretary confirmed in her speech at the NASUWT conference in March that she has asked the department to start work to look at what more can be done to ensure we protect teachers, and schools staff, particularly online, engaging closely with NASUWT and the police on how to do that.

To help teachers and school leaders tackle this issue we have:

  • given teachers stronger powers to search pupils if necessary;
  • removed the requirement to give parents 24 hours’ written notice of after-school detentions and clarified teachers’ power to use reasonable force; and
  • introduced a system of independent review panels which ensures that a school's decision to exclude cannot be overturned by an appeal process.

Our position on violence in the classroom is:

Teachers and school staff have a right to feel safe while doing their jobs and violence towards them is completely unacceptable. We have taken decisive action to put teachers back in charge of the classroom by giving them the powers they need to tackle poor behaviour and discipline. We have scrapped 'no touch' rules that stopped teachers removing disruptive pupils from classrooms, and ensured schools' decisions on exclusions can no longer be overruled.

Channel and Prevent

The Times published a story in today’s paper about the rise in the number of pupils being referred by schools to the government’s Channel and Prevent anti-terrorism programmes over fears of radicalisation. The Home Office responded to these claims.

This follows the introduction of the Prevent Duty last July which places a legal duty on public sector organisations, to have 'due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.'

The paper’s editorial points out that the majority of criticism comes not from the teachers but from the unions, which claim to speak for them. They also say that the increase in referrals is more likely to be as a result of greater awareness of this problem.

The government is committed to protecting children and young people from the risks of extremism and radicalisation. We are clear that the Prevent Duty is entirely consistent with schools’ existing responsibilities, and good schools will already have been safeguarding children from extremism and promoting fundamental British values long before the duty came into force.

It is imperative that school staff use their professional judgement in identifying children who might be at risk of radicalisation and act proportionately.

To help schools to understand their responsibilities under the duty we have published guidance and made a wide range of advice and materials available to help identify pupils that may be at risk.

School places

The Mail runs a story in today’s paper claiming that primary schools are struggling to deal with unprecedented pressure on places.

However, there is no evidence that migration from the EU is putting ‘unsustainable pressure’ on schools. Delivering good quality school places is a top priority for this government and the latest figures show that the system continues to work, with average class sizes seeing little change.

To help with this we have already committed £7 billion for school places, which along with our investment in 500 new free schools we expect to deliver 600,000 new places by 2021.

Our reforms and our academy programme are raising standards for all children with 1.4 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010. We will continue to invest and work hard to ensure every child has an excellent education that allows them to reach their full potential.

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