Teachers have gone on strike outside an “outstanding” school in protest against pupils attacking staff, fighting each other and bringing KNIVES into classrooms.
Starbank Secondary School in Yardley, Birmingham, was described by Ofsted as being an “outstanding and highly inclusive school” where pupils behaviour is “exemplary.”
But teachers today (Thurs) walked out in a dispute over the behaviour levels at the “flagship” school, which have become so bad they have been issued with panic buttons.
Staff say they fear for their safety when they turn up for work and are terrified of walking the corridors in between lessons so they stay in their classrooms.
Others have reported being physically attacked and punched by students who have also threatened to stab or “shank” them.
Following months of union negotiations, teacher decided to go on strike outside the school gates to demand tougher disciplinary procedures.
Parents have backed the protest and say headteacher Satnam Dosanjh has “lost control” of the school, which is rife with knife-carrying gangs and bullies.
Emma Wall, 34, who has a 13-year-old daughter called Sydney at the school, said:
“It’s got to the point I’ve got a counsellor for my daughter here.
“It has affected her mental health. I’m not sending her to school today to make a point. Her attendance is down to 90 per cent to avoid the bullies.
“Sometimes she has to run home. It’s beyond a joke. What more is going to happen? Will somebody get stabbed?
“She is self-harming due to the bullying and I hold the school responsible.”
Tina Seabright, 33, has a 13-year-old daughter Megan and a 12-year-old son Adam at the school and has applied to withdraw both her children.
She said: “Sometimes Adam doesn’t want to go to school because he’s scared of the bullies. He used to love it. This school was gone right down.
“I spoke to a teacher by the gates and they just fobbed me off.
“In May I came into speak to the teachers when I was pregnant. My blood pressure got too high and my midwife had to induce the birth three weeks early.
“The head teacher has lost control. She shouldn’t be working here. She can’t even stop the children running through the corridors.
“They come home and say they are getting bullied. It can’t be an outstanding school if kids are bringing in knifes and they are doing nothing about it.”
Adam added: “An 11-year-old boy brought in a flick knife.
“He went’ If you want me to stab some body just tell me.’ His face looked serious.”
Megan added: “Girls my age follow me around and threaten to beat me up. I was leaving school early because they threatened to batter me outside the gates.”
Shanty Begum, 44, who has a 15-year-old son at the school, said: “There has been fight after fight.
“One boy in my son’s year had such a bad beating he had internal bleeding and bruising.
“They go outside the gates and groups of them fight there. A friend of my son is too scared to tell the police about it. The parents of the kids that fight are involved in drugs.
“His mother has spoken to the head teacher but nothing has happened. She drives him right up to the school gates then picks him up for his own safety.”
Paul Nesbitt, NASUWT National Executive Member for the West Midlands, said the problem was not isolated to one of two gangs but a widespread issue throughout all year groups.
He added: “We were contacted by members a few months ago who were concerned about the behaviour of pupils.
“They said pupils were coming into school with knives and threatening staff with weapons.
“One teacher was punched in the face by a Year 7 pupil and ended up with a split lip.
“Another woman was threatened with a knife or shank by a boy between 11 and 13.
“The pupil was dealt with but the teacher came across the pupil in the corridor late. She felt very scared.
“One teacher said a pupil had threatened to attack her with a weapon last year but he was still at the school now.
“Teachers don’t want to go on strike but feel they have to due to health and safety concerns and duty of care.
“There’s been a lack of direction and support from the leadership.
“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.
“Members are telling us they are scared to come out of their classrooms during changeovers between lessons and that they don’t want to be in the corridors because they don’t want to come across the children.
“They don’t feel safe in school. They said they are reporting this to the leadership team and they are not taking appropriate action.”
“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.
“It’s a shame because it’s a fantastic new building and the staff are so enthusiastic,.
“You would not expect pupils at an outstanding school to have bad behaviour.
“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.
“We did not want to have to strike but members said enough was enough
“Hopefully parents will understand what we’re trying to do to protect pupils. They need to know what’s happening.”
The school uses a system called Pivotal Education but this approach is not favoured by union reps as they do not feel it brings about adequate disciplinary action.
Mr Nesbitt added: “The head teacher is a nice lady and she’s doing her best but she’s from a primary school background.
“They are trying to use primary school policies for the secondary school.
“If you know students are being verbally abusive and carrying knives, you would think there would be policies in place to challenge, but it’s not really there.”
Starbank School is a mixed “all-through” primary and secondary catering for over 2,000 pupils aged between 3-16.
It was previously called Bierton Road School and was saved from demolition in 2015 when it brought together two primary schools and a secondary school into one large school across three sites.
The site on The Hob Moor Road was rated ‘ Outstanding ‘ when it had its first Ofsted inspection a year ago.
Executive head teacher Satnam Dosanjh decided to keep the school open today and said suitable provision was put in place to ensure that lessons will continue.
A second strike is planned for July 3.