‘We are on our knees’: Derby school’s teachers beg for help on disruptive pupils

A group of disruptive students are damaging rooms, kicking holes in walls, swearing at teachers, running around corridors, banging on doors and taking staff members’ belongings in front of them, according to teachers who say they no longer feel safe in their own school .

Staff at Chellaston Academy say they have had enough of the bad behavior and the effect it is having on them, lessons and other pupils and have reported the situation to Ofsted, as well as bringing it to the attention of the head teacher. One member of staff, who wishes to remain anonymous, collated comments made by email from staff across the school, who repeatedly expressed their concerns about the situation, which they say has been going on for the whole academic year.

The same staff have also taken part in a survey conducted by the NEU and NASUWT teaching unions, which also concluded that staff do not feel safe in the school. The school has responded to the claims by saying that it became aware of staff complaints just before the Easter break and that since last September a number of pupils, at risk of exclusion from other schools, had been admitted to the academy.

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But teachers have hit back saying nothing is being done to sanction the disruptive pupils and they are being allowed to behave as they want.

The person who compiled the report likened the negative behavior “to an endemic cancer”. They said: “Members of the senior leadership team are making excuses for behavior instead of admitting that there is a problem, and they are struggling to control it. Staff are no longer prepared to tolerate the decline in behavior.

“The students at this school want to be educated in an environment conducive to learning. Teachers want to know that their students are safe and are not going to have their right to education taken away by the despicable behavior of a handful of students that cannot be disciplined.

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“The teachers at this school are begging for help to regain the control of their school and return it to a safe and enjoyable place to learn.” One area of ​​the school where staff say they are having an “awful” time is in The Hive, where students are sent if they are excluded from lessons.

A staff member from The Hive said: “We are all on our knees, and definitely do not feel safe. Students are using inappropriate language to staff, peers and quiet students, who really shouldn’t be open to this language. Staff are being pushed and barged into, tables pushed over and chairs, bottles and food being thrown, playing music, refusing to go to lessons or leave the room and spitting. “

Extracts from 17 emails are contained in the document, which has been given to Derbyshire Live, and date back to last November through to late March this year. The document, which is signed by “a frustrated member of Chellaston Academy staff”, has been forwarded to Ofsted on the teachers’ behalf by a concerned parent.

The document also has some comments from staff, which were posted on the union survey that was carried out. These include: “The behavior at this school is no less than terrifying. Classroom teachers are well versed in behavior management and are capable but the behavior that students are exhibiting is so out of control that no teaching member of staff is coping.”

“Staff often feel afraid and unsafe in their working environment and at a loss as to what to do with difficult students. Students that are excluded are sent back into classes after a day and their behavior is no better.”

Another anonymous teacher comment said: “Staff and students do not feel safe entering certain areas of school in the event they will face students who display intimidating and threatening behavior. If this is challenged by staff they are faced with a torrent of abuse and completely ignored . “

Derbyshire Live approached Chellaston Academy about the behavior claims and the document and was issued with a statement, which was also from the trust which oversees the school, the Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School Multi-Academy Trust (QEGSMAT). It said: “Chellaston Academy and QEGSMAT take their responsibilities for the safety of students and staff very seriously. The head teacher was first made aware of the concerns of some staff in a meeting held just prior to the Easter break.

At that meeting, the head teacher listened to concerns about the behavior of a small number of students and committed to making some changes to the school’s policies and procedures to ensure rapid and sustained improvement that will be overseen by the trust.

“Since September 2021, the school has seen an increase in the number of students being admitted in-year who were at risk of being excluded from their previous school, and support is being provided to these students, including from a number of external agencies. However, our data shows that the overwhelming majority of all students at Chellaston consistently follow the school’s code of conduct. “

Responding to Derbyshire Live’s request for more information about the complaint to Ofsted, an Ofsted spokesman said they could not comment on individual schools and added: “Chellaston Academy opened as a new school in June 2021. We usually inspect all new schools, including academies, within the first three years of opening. This typically happens in the school’s third year.

“We take all concerns we receive about schools very seriously. We may decide that we should inspect a school earlier than its next scheduled inspection depending on the concerns raised.”

Kieran Picken, Derby district secretary for the NEU teaching union, said he was hopeful that a solution to the problems plaguing the academy would be found.

He said: “Staff at Chellaston Academy have been actively engaging with the school’s leadership on a range of issues this academic year. NEU members have worked alongside the members in their sister unions throughout.

“It is hoped by everyone that, despite this being an exceptionally challenging year in education, through the positive relationship the staff believe they have with the school’s leadership, a way will be found to satisfactorily address these issues in the interests of staff and students.

“NEU members at Chellaston believe that the management is engaging with staff through their trades unions in good faith and envisage that issues will be resolved through dialogue and appropriate, agreed courses of action to ensure that students at Chellaston Academy continue to receive an excellent experience. “

Derbyshire Live has also asked Derby City Council for its comments on the situation.

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