*iStock photo
*iStock photo

Unruly students are putting intense pressure on teachers and a union has issued an urgent plea for help.

The call comes after a student threatened the life of a teacher at CedarBridge Academy.

“Bad behaviour is becoming more prevalent and teachers are having to deal with issues they simply are not trained for,” says Mike Charles, head of the Bermuda Union of Teachers.

“This latest incident at CedarBridge should act as a wake-up call to the authorities. What has to be put in place in our secondary schools are better, clearer and more robust procedures that deal with these kinds of behaviours.”

Mr Charles says teachers are under increasing pressure to deal with behavioural and psychological problems in the classroom they are not trained to handle.

Although the CedarBridge student who made the threat has been removed from the school, talks are ongoing between Education Commissioner Edmond Heatley and school officials.

Last night the Education Department maintained that defined procedures and policies were detailed in its Code of Conduct.

And a spokesperson said it had a zero tolerance policy for anti-social behaviour and threats against staff.

But Mr Charles told the Bermuda Sun that teachers need extra support from specially qualified staff to deal with an increase in aggressive behaviour and indiscipline within the classroom.

He added: “This latest incident at CedarBridge should act as a wakeup call to the authorities…. [More robust] guidelines need to be clearly accessible and understood by schools, parents and pupils.“

Not social workers

Mr Charles told the Sun more could be done to help teachers deal with behavioural problems: “Teachers are not social workers or child psychologists.

“On a day to day basis they are dealing with all sorts of outside pressures that are beyond their control and that manifest themselves in bad behaviour in the classroom.”

He added: “This recent incident at CedarBridge seems to be one of the most blatant incidents of aggression towards teachers that has happened in a school for some time. It’s not something we hear of daily.

“But it is the inability to deal effectively with badly behaved or aggressive students that is a big concern for teachers.

“And unfortunately it is the public system that deals with these students because the private schools do not take them.

“If there is a problem it ends up in the public system.”

Expulsions

One the perennial challenges in Bermuda is what to do with students who are expelled or deserve to be expelled. 

Last night a spokesperson for the Education Department told the Bermuda Sun: “The Department of Education has defined procedures and policies detailed in their Code of Conduct.

“It should be noted that each Senior School has security protocols and provisions.

“CedarBridge Academy employs seven security guards and the Berkeley Institute employs six security guards.

 “The Department of Education takes this opportunity to reiterate its zero tolerance policy for anti-social behaviour and threats against teachers, staff or other students.

“We view matters such as this very seriously and have the necessary steps in place to take immediate action if needed.”