CLAIMS of teacher fears over pupil violence at a Glasgow school have re-emerged as union bosses say staff will strike over the issue.

In 2018 the Glasgow Times was contacted by a whistleblower who alleged "pupils rule over the teachers" at Bannerman High School.

Responding, head teacher Seonaidh Black invited this paper to tour the school and countered that the claims were "grossly exaggerated".

Now the NASUWT teaching union has said violent pupils with disruptive behaviour have given "no option" but to consider strike action.

Members have been undertaking action short of strikes since October last year in response to a "failure" from Glasgow City Council to step in.

READ MORE: Whistleblower claims Bannerman pupils are 'like animals'

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: "Members at Bannerman are increasingly worried for their personal safety and angry at the failure of their employer and Glasgow City Council to fulfil their duty to protect them and the majority of well-behaved pupils from violence and disruption.

"The attitude appears to be one of blaming teachers for poor behaviour, rather than holding pupils accountable, and this is being aided and abetted by the misuse and abuse of restorative behaviour conversations, which members feel have become synonymous with no punishment or sanctions for unacceptable behaviour."

In October 2018 we received a lengthy and detailed letter from a teacher at the Baillieston school who claimed pupils behaved "like animals".

Glasgow Times:

The writer, who said they had 20 years experience in teaching, said teenagers had "abused" staff and pushed her "to breaking point".

She added: "Several teachers at meetings have commented on how we wish we could wear body cameras or record our classroom to hear some of the things we have to deal with."

According to the NASUWT, Bannerman staff have filled out six violent incident forms in the few weeks after the recent Easter holidays.

Union members said meaningful action is not being taken to resolve the behaviour of persistently disruptive pupils. 

They say they feel unsupported by school management and disrespect towards staff is accepted. 

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the NASUWT revealed there were 20 incidents of violence, aggression and challenging behaviour logged on Glasgow City Council’s Health and Safety Management (HANDS) system in 2020/21. 

READ MORE: Why 'good school' is a meaningless phrase

This is despite the school being closed by Covid lockdowns for part of the year. 

In the 2019/20 academic session there were 41 incidents recorded.

Susan Quinn, local association secretary for the EIS teachers' union, said its members at the school had not raised any similar issues.

But she added that the union is working closely with the local authority through its health and safety group to ensure staff welfare.  

Susan said: "While EIS is aware of the concerns being raised by a sister union, EIS Glasgow LA is in touch with the EIS rep at the school on a regular basis, and no such concerns have been raised by our members in the school at this time. 

"We are unable to comment on the concerns raised in media reports, as these cases are being dealt with by our sister union on behalf of their members.

"The EIS continues to work with Glasgow City Council, through the H&S group, to ensure all acts of abuse are properly addressed and staff supported appropriately."

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow City Council said "abuse of any sort" aimed at teachers or school staff will "not be condoned".

There were no pupil exclusions at the school in the last year, which fits with a Glasgow City Council policy of lowering exclusions and keeping youngsters in school wherever possible. 

A spokesperson said: "Young people who are not in school are not learning and although exclusions are unavoidable in certain circumstances, our schools work with pupils to find out why they are behaving in such a way and find solutions to support any child in need.

“We will continue to work with unions and their members to make sure everyone feels valued and respected in their working environment and it is not true to say that the school management team are not supporting school staff.

“Any reported incidents are dealt with quickly and effectively and a resolution agreed.”

The letter writer, who also contacted then-education secretary John Swinney, had added that incidents - including swearing, racial slurs, sexual assaults and physical threats - she says she does not feel safe in her job.

Mrs Black, on our visit to the school, had hit back, saying: "It is really, really concerning that a teacher would refer to children as animals.

"I don't see how you can be a teacher and think that about children.

"We know we have young people who are experiencing trauma in their daily lives so we take a nurturing approach to working with these pupils.

"How are our pupils supposed to learn about resilience if we don't model it and we don't speak about it?"

Bannerman has a roll of around 1200 pupils with around 500 of those having additional support needs. 

The school has a dedicated support base where pupils who cannot cope in mainstream classes are given extra help, which has aided in the cut to exclusions.

Mike Corbett, NASUWT National Official Scotland, added: "Evidence shows that positive pupil behaviour stems from a whole school approach where managements lead and support staff in maintaining good discipline.

"We want the behaviour policies which we agreed with the school to be enacted and consistently enforced, so that pupils are not only encouraged to reflect on their own behaviour, but that there are clear and consistently enforced sanctions for verbal abuse or physical violence.

"Members should not be treated with suspicion and disdain by their employer simply for standing up for their right to work in safety, free from abuse and harassment.

"Enabling a culture of abuse and harassment fails both pupils and staff and our members are not prepared to gamble with their welfare any longer."