Posts Tagged ‘Ofsted’

What About Parents that Bully Teachers Online?

October 25, 2011

Unfortunately, teachers and Facebook aren’t always a match made in heaven.  Whilst the vast majority of teachers on Facebook are responsible and mature enough to stay out of trouble, there’s always a news story popping up about tasteless comments a teacher made against students or minority groups.  This month it is Viki Knox, a Special Education teacher who was rightly condemned for her anti-gay comments on Facebook.

The media storm resulting from the Knox case and others like it serve as a timely reminder to teachers on Facebook that they must be extremely careful not to offend (something which shouldn’t be hard to do).

But what about the myriad of incidents of parents and students ganging up on and bullying teachers?

More than one in seven teachers has been the victim of cyberbullying by pupils or parents, and almost half know a colleague who has been targeted, according to a survey published today.

Students have set up “hate” groups on social networking sites calling for specific teachers to be sacked and have even created fake profiles in their names containing defamatory information.

Schools must make clear to pupils that such behaviour will lead to punishment, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said.

Schools seem to be increasingly soft on parents that bully teachers.  Turning a blind-eye to Facebook campaigns and insulting comments against teachers is not acceptable.  Teachers so often feel isolated and powerless against taunts from parents.

Who do they turn to for support?

When schools claim to have a “zero tolerance for bullying”, they ought to include bullying of teachers by parents.  Any parent caught bullying a teacher online should be subjected to the same penalty as a teacher.  They should be told to take their child and find another school.

If you think that’s harsh, try being a bullied teacher.  I’m glad I’ve never been bullied, because I guarantee you, it’s not easy!

Too Many Struggling Students Lack Support

June 20, 2011

I read a disturbing article about a young boy who struggles with dyslexia, and the trauma his mother has gone through as his school makes little to no effort to assist him.  It is a difficult article for a teacher to read, but a very important one.  There are too many students that fall between the cracks.  Too many that don’t get the attention and support that they so desperately need.  As teachers, we must fight for the social, emotional and academic wellbeing of all our students, whilst ensuring that they are all, without exception, getting the care and attention they need.

Below is an excerpt of the article.  I truly recommend that you read the whole story,

David is an artistically gifted boy with a photographic memory. The 10-year-old’s dining-room table is full of intricately designed Lego battleships, his art displays such originality that his teacher calls him “the next Picasso”, and he has an extraordinary ability to recall facts from the History Channel documentaries he watches on TV.

“The other day,” his 41-year-old mother Margaret recalled, “we were driving along and he said, ‘mummy, you were born in the year the first man landed on the moon’.”

But there is one big problem with David that overshadows his life. He cannot read. He has been assessed as “severely dyslexic” and “having the reading age of a child aged four years and four months”. His schooling has been a disaster and according to educational psychologist reports seen by the Standard, he has progressed “just one month in five years”.

You might assume that David attends a failing, inner-city school, but you would be wrong. His south London state primary is rated “good” by Ofsted, attended almost exclusively by white British-born pupils, and is located in a street of £3million houses. He is also well behaved.

Yet David, his mother said, has been “catastrophically let down by everyone: by his teachers, by the school and by the council”, all of whom failed to give him the specialised help he needs.

Margaret said: “At school the other kids call him ‘odd’ and ‘weirdo’ and he often comes home crying. He is still reading flashcards and has not progressed beyond words like ‘cat’ and ‘dog’. He has no real friends – how can he? He doesn’t get their jokes or their games. To the other kids, he is a misfit who doesn’t understand anything that’s going on because he can’t read.”

“My son was nine and he still couldn’t read a word,” said Margaret. “What were they waiting for? Why didn’t they do something?” 

Finally the school arranged for David to have some specialist teaching – three hours a week at a nearby literacy centre at a cost to the school of £1,000 a term – as well as 15 hours a week one-on-one with the teacher assistant. For the first time he made a glimmer of progress, improving by “one month in a year”. Margaret says the teacher assistant and the literacy centre are not experts in teaching severely dyslexic children.

There is a growing tendency to allow students to pass the year, regardless of their level of skill or maturity.  The reason for this is quite sensible.  Holding a child back can have strong emotional repercussions.  But because such a system exists, not enough questions are asked of students who are languishing.

I am not suggesting for a second that young David should have been kept down.  I am simply suggesting that since teachers no longer have to explain why a child is ready to be promoted, there is less incentive to put the time and energy into children like David.

It is time that we looked into the issue of students being promoted without the basic skills, and ensure that teachers are made accountable for the progress of their students.  David was allowed to fall into the gaps and starved of the support he needed because there isn’t enough pressure on teachers to reach benchmarks.

The story of David breaks my heart because he is a victim to poor teaching, an inept education system and a misnomer that dyslexia renders one academically incapable.

 

 


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