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Teachers walkout over knife fears at out-of-control school where pupils ‘act like gangsters’

Teachers walked out of a flagship Birmingham school today with union members demanding a ‘knife audit’ at the ‘Outstanding-rated’ secondary.

Parents are also calling for metal detectors to be used every morning at Starbank School in the Small Heath area of the city after a member of staff was threatened with a knife and another suffered a split lip after being hit by a Year 7 pupil. 

The school, which is described by Ofsted as ‘impressive’ and ‘inspirational’, has installed panic buttons over fear of attacks from pupils who ‘act like gangsters’ in the classroom. 

The unruly school is also reported to have a weekly ‘Thursday Fight’. 

Teachers walked out of a flagship Birmingham school today with union members demanding a ‘knife audit’ at the ‘Outstanding-rated’ secondary. Behaviour levels are said to be so bad at Starbank Secondary School on Hob Moor Road in South Yardley that staff have been issued with ‘panic buttons’ on their computer

Around 20 members of the union NASUWT  joined in industrial action today to express their concern over pupil ‘indiscipline’ and measures to safeguard staff. A second strike day is planned for next Wednesday.  

Teachers at the school refused to give comment over concerns that repercussions might threaten their job security. 

Outside the school, parents said that there had been problems with bullying for a long time and that they were scared for their children’s safety.

Mother-of-five Saima Begum said: ‘Obviously when the children are coming in carrying weapons, there’s the intention to hurt somebody or scare somebody.

The school, which is described by Ofsted as 'impressive' and 'inspirational', has installed panic buttons over fear of attacks from pupils who 'act like gangsters' in the classroom. Around 20 members of the union NASUWT joined in industrial action on today to express their concern over pupil 'indiscipline' and measures to safeguard staff. A second strike day is planned for next Wednesday

The school, which is described by Ofsted as ‘impressive’ and ‘inspirational’, has installed panic buttons over fear of attacks from pupils who ‘act like gangsters’ in the classroom. Around 20 members of the union NASUWT joined in industrial action on today to express their concern over pupil ‘indiscipline’ and measures to safeguard staff. A second strike day is planned for next Wednesday

Teachers at the school refused to give comment over concerns that repercussions might threaten their job security. Outside the school, parents said that there had been problems with bullying for a long time and that they were scared for their children's safety

Teachers at the school refused to give comment over concerns that repercussions might threaten their job security. Outside the school, parents said that there had been problems with bullying for a long time and that they were scared for their children’s safety

‘That’s not how a school should be run. A school should not allow other children to come in and feel intimidated in any way because there are children coming in and acting like gangsters.’

She added: ‘There should be no room for these children in any school, not just Starbank.

‘It’s frightening to think my daughter’s gone into school, is she going to get hurt, what’s going to happen?

‘Do we send our kids in and wait for something really bad to happen?

‘We have a major problem that needs to be addressed ASAP.’

Starbank School, previously called Bierton Road School, was saved from demolition and given a new lease of life in 2015 when it brought together two primary schools and a secondary school into one very large school across three sites

Starbank School, previously called Bierton Road School, was saved from demolition and given a new lease of life in 2015 when it brought together two primary schools and a secondary school into one very large school across three sites

She continued: ‘It’s shocking that this has been going on for so long and it’s not been brought to our attention as parents.

‘As parents, it’s so frustrating and scary that our children are not being safeguarded.

‘Our children have been bullied here for a number of years and no action has been taken by the school. We’ve gone through every channel possible. 

‘We’ve spoken to the police officer that works closely with Starbank and nothing has been done.

The Hob Moor Road site is a new building and the school was rated 'Outstanding ' when it had its first Ofsted inspection a year ago. But some parents have complained that they were not allowed to speak to Ofsted inspectors and that unruly children were 'kept out of sight' during inspections

The Hob Moor Road site is a new building and the school was rated ‘Outstanding ‘ when it had its first Ofsted inspection a year ago. But some parents have complained that they were not allowed to speak to Ofsted inspectors and that unruly children were ‘kept out of sight’ during inspections

‘It’s frustrating for us as parents to see our children’s mental health get affected in the way it is.’

Saima’s daughter and her friends have had to endure lots of incidents of bullying, she said.

‘They’ve been threatening to beat them up, called them disgusting names, their language alone is vile, they’ve belittled them,’ she explained.

‘As parents, we don’t know what to do, we feel like we’ve exhausted all our avenues coming up and down here every day and nothing’s been done.’  

Mother Rabia Anwar, who has a daughter in year nine, suggested metal detectors should be introduced to keep children safe at the school.

‘The teachers are brilliant, they’re ever so helpful and friendly,’ she said.

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: 'Conversations are ongoing with Trades Unions over concerns that have been raised by staff at Starbank School. Pictured: Teachers outside school gates

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: ‘Conversations are ongoing with Trades Unions over concerns that have been raised by staff at Starbank School. Pictured: Teachers outside school gates

‘But there are a group of children that are making it unbearable for the rest.

‘When children come to school, their safety is a priority, you want your children to be safe.

‘Something needs to be put into place so there’s a proper crackdown on this type of behaviour. I don’t know what the answer is, maybe the parents need to get involved in a big meeting.’

She added: ‘It’s political correctness gone mad.

‘The kids seem to think they can get away with anything and everything and that no-one can touch them.

‘The parents can’t touch them, the police can’t touch them, the teachers can’t touch them. There needs to be strong consequences for these children.

‘I think we need metal detectors. If the children need to be treated like criminals to an extent, then so be it.’

There are calls from NASUWT for proper risk assessments, knife audits and training. Pictured: Protesters from NASUWT outside the school

There are calls from NASUWT for proper risk assessments, knife audits and training. Pictured: Protesters from NASUWT outside the school

‘Our children have been bullied left, right and centre,’ said mother Emma Wall.

‘My daughter has been physically hit, told she is worthless and that she “needs to go and die”‘.

‘There’s name calling and threats so much so I’ve had her home early because I don’t feel she’ll be safe walking home.

‘She comes home nearly every day in tears.

‘She’s on a part-time timetable because she doesn’t feel safe at lunchtime and after school. I’ve been told she needs to be back in full time education which I totally agree, I want the best for my daughter.’

She added: ‘She loved school but now it’s a fight every day to get her into school because of certain individuals.

A safeguarding review has been carried out by Birmingham City Council and staff are awaiting the results

A safeguarding review has been carried out by Birmingham City Council and staff are awaiting the results

‘It’s not fair or right and we’re not being kept up to date about anything. It’s taken me months to get a governor’s meeting and I’ve been offered mediation, that’s all.’     

Starbank School, previously called Bierton Road School, was saved from demolition and given a new lease of life in 2015 when it brought together two primary schools and a secondary school into one very large school across three sites.

The Hob Moor Road site is a new building and the school was rated ‘Outstanding ‘ when it had its first Ofsted inspection a year ago.

But some parents have complained that they were not allowed to speak to Ofsted inspectors and that unruly children were ‘kept out of sight’ during inspections.

One father,  called Mohammed, said that it wasn’t until he read local media that he knew knives were bought into the school. 

Executive head teacher Satnam Dosanjh decided to keep the school open, confirming that suitable provision had been made to ensure that lessons could continue. Pictured: Teachers protesting outside the school gates

Executive head teacher Satnam Dosanjh decided to keep the school open, confirming that suitable provision had been made to ensure that lessons could continue. Pictured: Teachers protesting outside the school gates

‘Nothing has been mentioned so you wonder what else has been happening behind closed doors. 

But not all parents agreed with the teachers going on strike.

Father Saleem Karim has been coming to Starbank School for 18 years with his five children, the eldest of which is now 22.

He said: ‘Knife crime is a national problem, not a Starbank School problem. We need the government to bring in tougher actions generally.

‘But the talk about knives in school is all rumours. We know kids tell fibs every day. Have any of the teachers actually seen any knives ?

‘The teachers should not be striking. They should be talking to our youngsters about life, crime prevention and how to respect people.’

Mother Emma Wall with her daughter  Sydney Wall, 13, and her friend Megan Seabright, 13, her mother Tina Seabright and siblings Adam Seabright, 12 who are worried about the situation with pupils at the school. Emma said: 'My daughter has been physically hit, told she is worthless and that she "needs to go and die"'

Mother Emma Wall with her daughter  Sydney Wall, 13, and her friend Megan Seabright, 13, her mother Tina Seabright and siblings Adam Seabright, 12 who are worried about the situation with pupils at the school. Emma said: ‘My daughter has been physically hit, told she is worthless and that she “needs to go and die”‘

‘Promise of more police on streets and youth services in bid to tackle knife crime.’  

Executive head teacher Satnam Dosanjh decided to keep the school open, confirming that suitable provision had been made to ensure that lessons could continue. 

‘The school has another chance to sort it out between now and then so we’re hoping to pull out of [the second] strike,’ said Paul Nesbitt, NASUWT National Executive Member for the West Midlands.

‘We will speak to members about what they want to do. We have a duty of care to our members.

‘We were contacted by members a few months ago who were concerned about the behaviour of pupils.

‘One teacher told us she was punched in the face by a Year 7 pupil and ended up with a split lip,’ he added.

Union officials are understood to have asked the school's senior leadership team for an audit of all incidents involving knives over the past 12 months, including any seizures of weapons

Union officials are understood to have asked the school’s senior leadership team for an audit of all incidents involving knives over the past 12 months, including any seizures of weapons

‘Another teacher said a pupil had threatened to attack her with a weapon last year but he was still at the school now.

‘Whilst I have been in the school, I have witnessed pupils running along the corridors screaming when they should have been in class.

‘One of my colleagues saw two pupils climbing the fence to get out and she went over to talk to them herself.

‘We’ve been told there is violence in the classrooms and fighting on the playground.

‘There’s even something called “Thursday fight” when there’s always a fight on the playground on a Thursday.

‘We’ve seen a lot as a union, nothing much shocks us. But we’ve felt we have to act quickly here.

‘This could be described as a flagship school for Birmingham and from the outside, it looks brilliant but it’s what’s going on inside that’s the problem.’

'Staff don't feel that the issues are being dealt with effectively - they want a safe working environment for both themselves and the pupils' organisers said (pictured, staff protesting)

‘Staff don’t feel that the issues are being dealt with effectively – they want a safe working environment for both themselves and the pupils’ organisers said (pictured, staff protesting)

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: ‘Conversations are ongoing with Trades Unions over concerns that have been raised by staff at Starbank School.

‘While strike action will be taking place on Thursday 27 June, the school will remain open to all pupils and suitable provision has been made to ensure that lessons will continue.’

There are calls from NASUWT for proper risk assessments, knife audits and training.

‘We want training for members on how to deal with these situations and a knife audit,’ Paul explained.

‘We’ve asked the school to come up with a behaviour policy which looks after children and our members.

 As parents, it’s so frustrating and scary that our children are not being safeguarded. Our children have been bullied here for a number of years and no action has been taken by the school. We’ve gone through every channel possible. ‘We’ve spoken to the police officer that works closely with Starbank and nothing has been done.

‘To give them their due respect, they have done this. But it’s still a draft and has not been delivered for members to access it so it’s not enough. They need something to be done about this now.

‘This is why members are striking.’

A safeguarding review has been carried out by Birmingham City Council and staff are awaiting the results.  

The NASUWT says the walkout is the result of the failure of the employer to address its members’ concerns over pupil behaviour.

Union officials are understood to have asked the school’s senior leadership team for an audit of all incidents involving knives over the past 12 months, including any seizures of weapons.

NASUWT regional organiser Ben Cochrane said: ‘Staff don’t feel that the issues are being dealt with effectively – they want a safe working environment for both themselves and the pupils.’

Chris Keates, the union’s general secretary, said: ‘Strike action is a last resort for dedicated and committed teachers but there has been a failure by the employer to take seriously their professional concerns over pupil indiscipline.

‘Teachers are entitled to a safe working environment and employers have a legal duty of care for their employees. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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