Teachers on Strike in Birmingham: Students are Carrying Knives

Shocking news from Birmingham school Starbank has travelled through the world. Teachers came out on strike, and they’re protesting the fact that the students are carrying knives and other dangerous objects in order to threaten the staff and brawl in classrooms.
Starbank school teachers and staff have a so-called “panic button”, which they will use in case of being threatened. These buttons serve the purpose of alerting others about the trouble.
Teaching union commented that the teachers and staff are afraid to come out of the classrooms between lessons. And it took urgent actions to see how scared the teachers became for their safety.
June 2019, a call into police office from the school shook everyone. Students smuggled three knives in the building of the school (12-inch blades), and threatened the staff.
Paul Nesbitt, NASUWT National Executive Member, said that the school looks healthy from the outside. You even feel fantastic when going there, but everything change’s after you step into the building. Children running around, doing their own thing is a regular thing to expect, but this school is far more dangerous than that.
Come to think of it, 2012 year was a glowing year for this school. It was announced as an outstanding and was praised for its exceptional quality of education.
But during the years, teachers have raised the issue of students’ numbers rising. At the end of 2016, the number has doubled to 2072.
The increasing numbers could’ve seen as good news, but the result says different. Some of the students have missed an ample amount of education before arriving at Starbank school.
Not everyone from staff has joined the strike. It seems like teachers didn’t respond to these concerns raised by NASUWT, and wrote the parents a letter, stating that the situation was manageable and the behavior of students was also well-managed.
Only 16 of 122 teachers joined the strike. It seems like the views of the situation vary in the staff. Some say that the condition of the school is not as severe as spoken to the press, and some add that the violence is extremely rare and dealt with utmost carefulness.
Yet, the teachers on strike speak differently — a sudden explosion of violent incidents caused to equip the staff with panic buttons on their computers. Incidents include a seven-year-old student punching the teacher in the face, and another student threatening the teacher with a weapon on school territory.
PE teacher spoke about something called “Thursday fight day”. It seems like the students of all age have a regular fight day at the playground on Wednesday. He also said that he has personally seen students preparing for fights, running around the corridors, and while breaking such a fight, he suffered a broken finger.
Nesbitt said that the staff was afraid to go out of the classrooms at lunchtime. In an effort to avoid the interaction with students, they’d stay in their rooms for quite a long time.
He also addressed the problem of not carrying out the risk assessments on troubled students. They wouldn’t check the statuses of arriving students, even the ones who were expelled. They did send the safeguarding team to inspect and observe the school, but it seems like the inspector had only visited the school premises only once, for primary-age children.
NASUWT is planning another walkout on Friday and isn’t going to give up. Their demands are directed to the school management. They ask them to stop stalling and introduce strict measures of such risk assessments.
Birmingham city council spoke about this matter and commented that, even though the strike will be held in the middle of the learning process, the school will remain open and students will be able to safely go and come out of the building, as before.


Marita Pilauri

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