Teachers at a Glasgow high school are to walk out over safety concerns after being told they would be sent home without pay if they refuse to stay in classrooms with a pupil threatening them.
It includes teachers at Bannerman High School facing pupils brandishing screwdrivers, being shoved and shouted at, and being threatened with assault.
Members of the NASUWT teachers’ union will now take 12 days of strike action over what they say is a failure to address concerns over violent and abusive pupil behaviour.
Instructions have been issued by the union for its members to refuse to teach pupils who are known by the school to be threatening and abusive.
However, the union indicates that Glasgow City Council wrote to its members telling them that they would be sent home without pay if they refuse to remain in class with a pupil who is threatening their safety.
Glasgow City Council said that it “does not recognise” the characterisation of the council’s behaviour as bullying.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary suggested that a “culture of fear” had been allowed to develop at the school.
“The actions and systematic failures of the council are placing the safety of teachers are serious risk,” he said.
“No teacher should have to go to work expecting to be sworn at, verbally abused or threatened with violence from the pupils they teach.
“Glasgow City Council’s attempts to bully our members are indicative of a climate of fear that the council has allowed to develop at Bannerman School.”
Mike Corbett, NASUWT national officer Scotland, insisted that the union “will not stand by” while any teacher suffers violence and abuse.
“Where any pupil seeks to intimidate staff in classrooms, corridors and elsewhere, disrupt classes or pose a threat to the health and safety of teachers, the council should be taking action to protect staff, rather than bullying and threatening our members,” he said.
“The NASUWT will not stand by whilst any teacher suffers violence and abuse at work and whilst Glasgow City Council fails to uphold its duty of care to staff and pupils.”
Scottish Conservative local government spokesman Miles Briggs insisted there must be a “zero tolerance” attitude towards such behaviour.
“It is absolutely appalling that teachers at a Scottish school feel they have no option but to strike due to the behaviour of certain pupils,” he said.
“No teacher should feel unsafe in our schools and it is shocking that their concerns have not been addressed by SNP-led Glasgow City Council.
“There must be a zero tolerance attitude towards this sort of behaviour in our schools. It also means further disruption for the majority of pupils, which is the last thing they need after what they endured during the pandemic.
“The SNP must get a grip of this situation, which has clearly pushed teachers beyond breaking point.
“They should ensure that our hardworking teachers have every resource they require to feel safe in our classrooms.”
A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman denied any members of staff being threatened by the council.
“The position that has been outlined 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 is once again being dragged through the media,” she 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 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.
“We do not recognise the characterisation of the council’s behaviour as bullying nor have we threatened any member of staff.
“Our legal view was made clear to the NASUWT that refusal to teach an individual young person would be considered breach of contract and have consistently engaged with the union and will continue to do so.”