Linda Colling: ‘Kids know they can get away with it’

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There’s been a shift in the last 25 years from teachers being in a position of respect.

Namby-pamby teaching has been the scourge of the classroom, coupled with the loss of real clout in punishing miscreants and lack of parental discipline.

Now teachers are paying the price, with on average six unruly primary and secondary school pupils suspended in Sunderland every day.

Why? Because kids know they can get away with it. Teachers no longer command respect – even in primary school children dare to verbally abuse or use threatening behaviour towards them. Damning indeed and so the monkeys are running the zoo.

Marilyn Harrop, president of the National Union of Teachers, who taught in Wearside primary schools for 36 years, highlighted how far children have departed from respecting their teacher to “knowing their rights, but not having any sense of obligation”.

That’s the pitiful state teaching has reached with too little discipline in the classroom – a decline matched in so many homes.

That’s where the rot started – with no respect shown for those in authority by parents who have no self respect.

If you get into trouble at school where once you would have got a clip when you got home, now it’s “I’ll be up to see the school.”

Too many parents are too quick to take their kid’s side and kick off at the teacher. Any wonder their kids do the same?

Pity the teachers who get youngsters who are so disadvantaged, so damaged psychologically, they are ruined in the discipline stakes before they ever start school. It all starts in the home.

And that’s why teachers have nightmare children to contend with.

Once teachers could have licked them into shape. You knew what you were in for if you stepped out of line. Not any more.

Now there are more naughty children – like nits in a classroom they spread. And there are some lousy teachers who for too long have kept their jobs by being shuffled round the system instead of being weeded out.

What has been lost sight of, in too many homes and classrooms, is that children like boundaries.

That was never more obvious than on my recent visit to the Donnison School, Living History North East’s gem in the East End, where one class from Valley Road Juniors stepped back in time and got a taste of strict, Victorian schooling.

The majority liked the no nonsense approach. They knew what would be in store if they overstepped the line.

And while I wouldn’t want to see us going back to when utter humiliation and fear ruled in the classroom, I’m all for restoring rules that have teeth to prevent kids from cocking a snook at authority, and teachers being given the chance to reassert themselves, so pupils know they mean to start as they’ll go on.

That’s what’s missing. And more’s the pity.

An obligatory visit to the Donnison School should be the order of the day for children, to be given a short, sharp lesson in just who’s in charge. Sadly for some, it’s already too late.