29/04/2005

Abusive parents give head teachers cause for complaint

Head teachers are facing increasing abuse, threats and assaults from pupils’ parents, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has claimed.

The NAHT said that it was becoming “concerned” about an “increasing tendency” for parents to resort to threats and abuse, while pursuing complaints against schools.

The Association reported that it dealt with 103 parental complaint cases in March this year and 18 of those involved assaults, threatened assaults or abuse from parents or members of parents’ families. The NAHT said that one serious assault also included death threats.

David Hart, General Secretary of NAHT, described the increase in abuse, threats and assaults by parents as “totally and utterly unacceptable”. He said: “Although we are still talking about a small minority of parents, this is what is happening on the 'front line' far too frequently. Some parents are unwilling to pursue their complaints by using the existing procedures properly. They use violence or threatened violence as a first resort.”

The NAHT is calling for government, local authorities and the police to take the “strongest possible action” to support head teachers when they are faced with “not only threats to themselves but also to their families”.

Yesterday the Conservatives unveiled plans to restore discipline in schools with a proposed ‘Teacher’s Charter’ as part of their election campaign. The proposals include plans to give head teachers the final say on expelling pupils and provide more legal protection for teachers, in order to help them enforce discipline without the fear of facing abuse allegation from pupils. The plans also include a measure allowing head teachers to insist on parental agreement to discipline their children as a condition for securing admission at a school.

School discipline has also been an important issue for Labour. Earlier this year, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly announced her support for schools to take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to tackling classroom disruption.

(KMcA/SP)

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