I’ve only read the front page of The Herald – magnifying the picture above to read the article. I have no wish to give The Herald the benefit of my custom even tho’ a decade ago it was my newspaper of choice.
It’s an appalling piece of journalism: it is rightly being called out in the blog post as a classic example of seeking to stoke moral panic. Yet another example: a pattern emerging in Scotland?
(Arguably, what is being reflected in The Herald is a socially conservative push-back against fairly long standing practices and widespread support for the use of restorative justice principles and methods. Presumably, social conservatives still favour retribution/punishment as their preferred solution in such dealings with children and young people.)
The Herald piece makes mention of a teacher strike in 2022 by NASUWT members at Bannerman High School, Glasgow and refer to an article on the matter in the Glasgow Times:
Headline: ‘Teachers continue with strike at Bannerman High School in Glasgow – Teachers at a Glasgow school are continuing with strike action in a dispute over dealing with alleged safety risks in the classroom.’ (29th November 2022).
As The Herald, based on very scant ‘evidence’, is clearly intent on implying a major national problem in Scotland’s schools, it’s worth sharing what this Glasgow Times article actually stated at the time (with my emphasis):
‘The dispute focuses on BANNERMAN HIGH SCHOOL’S LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION RESOURCE, WHICH CATERS FOR PUPILS WITH AUTISM.’
From the school’s website today: ‘Language and Communication Resource – The Language and Communication Resource Bannerman Autism Unit caters for pupils whose difficulties lie on the Autism Spectrum. All pupils have a diagnosis of Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. The Unit has been an integral part of Bannerman High Since August 2000.
‘At present the Unit has places for up to 12 pupils. Pupils have access to mainstream classes according to their individual needs and staff from the Unit support pupils in classes, if required.
‘Within the Unit, lessons to develop social skills and social understanding are an important part of most pupils’ timetables. The Unit also provides pupils with practice in language and communication skills and Lifeskills, as well as providing opportunities for consolidation of classwork.’
Returning to the Glasgow Times article from last November, we learn this from Glasgow City Council’s response:
‘A council spokesperson said: “The safety of our staff is taken very seriously and additional measures have been in place at the school to meet the needs of the teachers and support staff in the ASL base and the refusal to teach by some members can only be seen as victimisation of young people with significant needs.
“The position that has been outlined yet again by the NASUWT is an INACCURATE REFLECTION OF THE EXTENSIVE, ONGOING SUPPORT BY THE COUNCIL AND SENIOR MANAGEMENT AT THE SCHOOL AND IT IS DEEPLY UPSETTING THAT THE SCHOOL CONTINUES TO BE DRAGGED THROUGH THE MEDIA TO CREATE SENSATIONAL HEADLINES.
“THE SCHOOL HAS A RATIO OF ONE TEACHER TO EVERY THREE PUPILS IN THE BASE AS WELL AS PUPIL SUPPORT WORKERS WITH INDIVIDUAL SUPPORT PLANS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.’
Editorial footnote: No titillating pictures of unhappy weans here.
3 thoughts on “School violence: A classic example of seeking to stoke moral panic”
It is, indeed, bad journalism, but, it should also be noted that teachers are engaged in industrial action at the moment and, at such times, violence by pupils is one of several propaganda lines used by the teacher unions in support of their case – “look at the thugs we have to deal with in state schools, so we need more protection and better pay”. Since the Herald and the Scottish media tends to favour private (‘top’ or ‘leading’ schools) eduction since most of the senior staff and owners are alumni and send their offspring to such schools, they always use such quotes by teachers.
Now, I support teachers’ claims for better pay, as I support all workers – public and private – in seeking to improve their wages and conditions. A large majority of teachers are sincerely committed to their work as is evidenced by the large number of hours they work, without pay, in addition to their contracted work. However, there has always been a voluble minority, mainly members of the NASUWT, mainly in the secondary sector and mainly male, who seem to hate their work and more worryingly seem to hate young people and seek to dehumanise them as in the ‘violence’ trope. They also, as was evident in the Bannerman HS issue, oppose actions to enable neurodivergent young people to participate in mainstream education, despite the fact that it is a basic right of these young people and that the experience of being included is not only good for them but also has a good effect on the attitudes and understanding of the young people as a whole.
I was a teacher for 39 years and worked in some of the areas with the highest SIMD scores. I have, on occasion, had to deal with some young people who have been quite overwrought. However, unpleasant though such experiences could be, I and most other colleagues saw managing such incidents as part of the job we had gone into with our eyes open.
Schools are far happier places for young people now then when I was a pupil during the 1950s and 60s and there is considerably less violence, especially since corporal punishment was abolished in Scotland c1982. Corporal punishment was institutionalised violence and as well as the pain and humiliation it inflicted it also taught that violence is a legitimate action.
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The Herald report is illegal and my sleading. Breaking diversity Law.. People with autism, ADHD and additional needs can be overwhelmed and anxious. They can become unsettled or anxious. strategies can be put in place or care breaks taken to nurture and calm. Quite simple strategies. A cushion or a calming place. Not sure highly pressured. If people on the spectrum react it can be because they become overwhelmed. They need care from soecialist staff who understand and have proper training. Not be condemn or criticised for having meltdowns if overwhelmed. They often have special talents and should not be judged to the norm. Every invention on earth has been made by people on the spectrum with extraordinary talents and powers. There are entitled to extra consideration. Not be misunderstood and judged by ignorance and anger. They have rights like
everyone else. It is wrong to discriminate in ignorance. There is a duty to care not to discriminate. Silicon Valley etc are full of people on the spectrum. Gates, Musk, Einstein etc. Musicians, sportspeople, writers, academics etc. People in all walks of life. Inventors, computer wizards.
People get angry with some ignorant, journalists. The do not do proper research. They cannitbread a balance sheet or count. Atrocious maths. and statistics. MSM owned by tax evading non Dom’s. Without a free and fair Press there is no Democracy. Thatcher illegally gave over the Press to Murdoch and denied it. The violence of the Thatcher and the Blair years egged on by Murdoch. A total disgrace. These days a repeat going on of corruption. Now Devolution and the internet changes the landscape. The Tories and their cronies will be voted out, They cut Education, healthcare and welfare funds.People are getting angrier and angrier at the total mess and corruption of Westminster Gov. More people who support Independence need to go out to vote at every election.
I suspect the Herald will not be with us too much longer, the dire quality of this story purporting to be news now seems to be it’s standard.
There was however an informative story in todays Herald right enough, “Listeners desert BBC Radio Scotland: audience plummets 20 per cent in just one year”.
Ah, that will be reported as the fault of the SNP no doubt. Sturgeon must go 🙂