The teachers union is demanding the McGowan Government commit funding to its new hard-line stance on violence in schools, warning any policy change that is not adequately resourced is doomed to fail.
Education Minister Sue Ellery announced a wide-reaching review into violence in schools in March. She has said the resulting action plan, due in coming weeks, will “draw a line in the sand” after physical attacks by students on teachers more than tripled from 165 in 2014 to 595 last year.
Top of the State School Teachers Union of WA wish list, approved by members at this weekend’s council conference, is money for alternative education options for violent and severely disruptive students, so they can be pulled out of mainstream schooling.
Other demands include:
MORE funding for the State’s network of Behaviour and Engagement Centres, so they can both provide outreach services and accommodate students that need to be withdrawn from mainstream schools.
THAT the Education director-general be told to use her powers to forcibly relocate violent students to alternative programs.
MONEY be made available to increase staffing levels dedicated to student services and classroom support for teachers.
Ms Ellery has already indicated she expects to see an increase in suspensions and expulsions for violent behaviour under her new plan, but SSTUWA president Pat Byrne said a change in policy could not work in isolation.
“If we assume, for example, there are going to be increases in the number of kids suspended or excluded, that means the department has to be able to cater for those students,” Ms Byrne said.
“It would be a disaster if in three months time the department said, ‘Sorry we can’t deal with the numbers (requiring alternative placements) any more’. The minister’s whole position would lack credibility.”
The union also wants the needs of teachers and bystanders put above those of violent offenders.
Ms Ellery would not say whether additional funding would be made available to implement her plan, which was due for trial next year.
“The action plan will include clear, long-term policies about when students should be suspended or excluded, have privileges removed, what a school’s duty of care is and how to manage repeat offenders,” she said.