Monday, November 30, 2009

Michael Barile

The case of former Dundee Maths Teacher Michael Barile has been dragging on for a couple of years. Reading between the lines, he appears to have manhandled a couple of highly unpleasant kids in his classroom and threatened them. There is no suggestion that he actually struck any of them.

He was sacked by the school, charged with assault and found guilty. His life has been completely ruined, his home has been attacked and his car vandalised. Now the judge has said that he shouldn't have been charged in the first place.

There are only two options for teachers nowadays:

1) You are a strict teacher who insists on good behaviour at all times in your classroom and demands that those pupils who refuse to behave are punished. In a good school this isn't too difficult. However if you adopt this approach in a bad school, you will eventually crack. (How many times can you cope with being told to "F*** Off!" by an obnoxious pupil who has got away with it time and time again because they know perfectly well that nobody higher up will want to get involved).

You then either lose it and whack the little wretch, get stressed and take it out on your family, or you give up and take the second option which is:

2) You are a nice teacher who turns a blind eye to what goes on in your classroom and always thinks the best of your pupils; blaming appalling behaviour on their 'difficult backgrounds' and 'challenges that they face' (or some other twaddle). This is a much easier path which is openly encouraged in many schools and on Teacher Training. It will not result in your appearance in court, but you will have to try not to think of the thousands of children who would have loved to learn something in your lessons but couldn't.


Steve said...

I disagree, there are four options not two.

3. Leave teaching and do something less well paid but far less stressful. This was my personal option.

4. Don't become a teacher in the first place. This is probably the best option these days.

Margaret English said...

This post just about sums up teaching in a standard British secondary school, namely that none of the options are helpful in improving the education system.

MarkUK said...

I've only been working in schools for a short while, in a non-teaching capacity. Some cases appal me.

If you think teachers have it bad, think of the support staff. Support staff cannot take any sanctions against the little ba - sorry, darlings - and they know it.

The Senior Management - sorry, that should read Leadership (ha!) - Team would rather be friends with the little thugs than teach them the error of their ways.

Without SLT backing, no teacher will move a muscle to invoke any semblence of discipline - and who can blame them?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, in many cases, schools re no longer places where motivated children canlearn and less motivated childrencnlearn to learn, but where disrupted little sociopaths are being kept for the day so that sociopath Mum and Dad can wath jeremy Kyle in peace all day.
I was offered to do an extra lunchtime duty a few days ago. No extra pay and no electric cattle prod thrown in, but the exciting carrot of a free school meal ( worth £ 2) dangled in front of my nose. How tempting. Didn't take up the offer, though. Not stupid, me....

Sam Browne said...

Not a leading question, but... if you have a disruptive element in the class can you not make them leave the classroom? Or let them leave, thus letting everyone else learn in peace.
Or, refuse to teach them. Turn the tables and use legislation to support you. Could you not argue with the Management, that being subjected to abusive verbal or bad language , possbile/actual physical assault/contact is harmful to your health and under the health and safety laws they have a duty of care to protect you from it?
Or invoke the human rights act,article 1,5,9 or 10. You have a right not to be abused or mistreated, etc etc.

Just a thought

Anonymous said...

Sam I'd have said those things too before I started teaching

Here's what happens in a crap school:

You send them out and they say "No". If they do go after ten minutes of arguing, a member of SLT bings them back because you aren't allowed to just chuck them out onto the corridor, you have to fill in an A4 sized form to send them to a special room. Then another child takes over the role of 'damn nuisance' and the whole fiasco starts over again.

You aren't allowed to just 'let them leave' either as they would roam the school causing chaos or get run over and you would be liable since they are in your care. Mind you, as you can't stop them leaving either, there is a number to phone and a form to fill in should they decide to just walk out.

As for what happens if you refuse to teach them, use your imagination.

MarkUK said...

Sam Browne

I'm a Health & Safety officer in a school. Trying to get a teacher to report violence to staff is like getting blood from a stone. No one wants to rock the boat.

Violence may be verbal (the common law "assault" does not require bodily contact; that's battery).

If all these incidents were reported and investigated as they should be, I'd be dealing with nothing else and neither would senior management.

If SLT are quite content to let such matters go unpunished, what chance does the classroom teacher stand?

We have one little brat who, I am told, needs tender loving care even though he causes thousands of pounds worth of damage and hundreds of hours of disruption.

I'd like to give him a hug - a strong one, round the throat. Our local PCSO agrees!