Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Blackboard Jungle

It's that time of year again when strange stories appear trying to convince the nation that Scotland's schools and classrooms are the equivalent of war zones.

The Herald published a strange article yesterday claiming that Scottish teachers have been attacked 9,500 times in the past three years.

Now I find this odd because the article doesn't explain why 3 years figures are used or whether the problem has been getting 'better' or 'worse' over the three year period.

Could it be that  three years figures have been used to sensationalise the extent of the problem?

Not just that but there is no information on where these incidents have taken place,  what constitutes an attack or what is being done to tackle the issue.

The article claims that Edinburgh witnessed just 25 incident over the same period (which period?) whereas Glasgow experienced 1,218 incidents "this year ".

But since the Herald piece was published on 2nd January 2017 the period that "this year' represents is far from clear.

If you ask me, this is very sloppy and lazy journalism - never mind the low politics from the Lib Dems and Labour.  



Scottish teachers attacked more than 9,500 times in last three years

(Left-right) Tavish Scott, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie and Labour's Iain Gray

By Kate Devlin - The Herald (2nd January 2017)

More than 9,500 attacks on teachers have taken place in Scottish schools over the last three years, according to new figures.

Schools in Glasgow account for almost half of all attacks this year so far - 1,218.

Over the same period, however, Edinburgh has experienced just 25 incidents.

Blackboard Jungle (29/1211)

News is normally slow in the week between Christmas and New Year.

So it's a favourite time of year for trade unions to put out press releases - full of empty words - which make meaningless demands.

My favourite so far is the one today from some of Scotland's teaching trade unions - which claims that children's education is being affected - and staff safety compromised - by the failure of some schools to exclude badly behaved pupils.

One union spokesperson claims that in the schools concerned this indiscipline is 'spreading fear and alarm throughout the school community' before going on to add that:

"Fortunately, these cases are relatively rare but this is of no comfort to pupils and staff terrorised in the workplace."

Strong words I thought to myself - apparently people are being terrorised in a place of learning - this can't go on, something has to be done - call out the riot police.
  1. Which schools are involved?
  2. How many schools are involved?
  3. What kind of incidents have taken place?
  4. What do the school's parents think of the situation?
But of course none of this information is available - no hard information or examples are provided to back up these wildly exaggerated claims - it's blown up out of all proportion and for that reason doesn't deserve to be taken remotely seriously.

In fact official figures confirm that school exclusions showed an 11% reduction in 2010/11 - and a whopping 40% reduction since 2006/07.

In other words many fewer young people are now being suspended or expelled - which is a good news story for Scottish education - and all the schools that work hard to tackle disruptive and anti-social behaviour.

Yet the trade unions use the language of propaganda - claiming that in parts of Scotland people are being terrorised and live in a state of 'fear and alarm'.

Which is hardly thoughtful or constructive - especially when there are no facts or figures to back up their claims.

To my mind it's shameful that the trade unions behave in this over-the-top way - as if it's 'hell out there' - that some of our schools are little more than battlegrounds..

Because they're the ones trying to spread fear and alarm - with their ill-judged, half-baked propagandist claims.