Schools Out of Control: Government Unveils Plans to Protect Teachers from Abuse

The UK Government has unveiled a comprehensive plan to shield educators from escalating harassment. Here’s the full story.

Moving On

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The UK government, desperate to find something to distract the public with after weeks of scandal, has found the latest issue to try to move the conversation on from its misfortunes.  

Increasing Threats

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In response to the reports of increasing threats and harassment teachers face in England, a government-commissioned review has proposed significant measures to safeguard the country’s educators. 

“Cohesion and Conflict”

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Among these proposals is establishing a “cohesion and conflict unit” to support teachers encountering the euphemistically named “freedom-restricting challenges” in their professional roles.

Severe Intimidation

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The review highlighted a distressing case at Batley Grammar School, where a religious studies teacher faced severe intimidation and abuse after showing a controversial drawing of the Prophet Mohammed from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. 

Sustained Protests

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The incident led to sustained protests and forced the teacher into hiding, resulting in them feeling suicidal and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after being attacked both online and offline.

Teacher Cleared

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While the teacher was later cleared of intentional offence, the review criticises the prioritisation of “appeasing the protesters to secure the end of the protests – at the expense of the religious studies teacher.”

“Disproportionate Concern”

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Dame Sara Khan, the government’s independent adviser for social cohesion and resilience, highlighted in her review a “disproportionate concern for not causing offence to the religious sensibilities of those who, unaware of the facts, engaged in intimidation and harassment.”

Vital Support

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Central to the review’s recommendations is the establishment of a cohesion and conflict unit. This unit would offer vital support to teachers facing harassment, providing guidance, training, and resources. 

Collecting Data

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Additionally, it would collect data on social cohesion and offer assistance to schools dealing with similar challenges.

Protest Threat

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The review also proposes legislative measures to protect schools from protests threatening staff and students. 

150m Buffer Zone

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Suggestions include enforcing 150-metre buffer zones around schools and empowering authorities to restrict intimidating demonstrations.

Further Questions

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Leaders in the education sector have welcomed the proposal for a cohesion and conflict unit, but some had further questions for the government about the scheme’s working plans. 

“Powers to Restrict Protests”

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Daniel Kebede, general secretary of the National Education Union, stated, “While demonstrations should always be peaceful, local authorities and police already have powers to restrict protests that are intended to be intimidatory.”

“Sounds Helpful”

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Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, stated, “The idea of a cohesion and conflict unit to provide schools with guidance, training materials and resources, along with support and care for schools and teachers who find themselves threatened and harassed, sounds helpful.”

“Further Thought”

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He continued, “However, this would … require further thought about how this would complement and work alongside existing advice and support systems.”

“Followed Due Process”

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Batley Multi Academy Trust defended its actions in response to the review’s findings, stating, “We remain clear that we delivered on our responsibilities and that we followed due process. This included immediately establishing an independent investigation, accepting its findings and acting on them.” 


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They continued, “We are therefore disappointed by today’s report. We do not recognise much of what is in it, its description of the events, nor the characterisation of our school and community.”

“New Government Architecture”

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Secretary of State Michael Gove, who last week defended the Conservative donor responsible for harassing Diane Abbott, also backed Dame Khan, saying that she was right “about the need for new government architecture to protect our democracy and tackle threats to cohesion.”

“Rapid Work”

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He added, “Rapid work is currently underway that will do just that.”

“Free Speech Tsar”

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The government has selected a “university free speech tsar” to safeguard both freedom of speech and academic freedom.

“Reasonable Steps”

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There are also plans for forthcoming legislation which will mandate English universities to actively uphold free speech through “reasonable steps” or risk penalties, including potential fines.

Defending Teachers

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The proposed establishment of a cohesion and conflict unit is an important step forward when defending teachers who face harassment simply for doing their jobs.

“Social Cohesion”

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However, it can be hard to listen to a government that talks a big game about social cohesion whilst also taking money from an accused racist, spouting claims viewed by many as Islamophobic and who seem to care little about “social cohesion” when it comes to the devastating impact of poverty. 

Free Speech

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The prioritisation of “free speech” issues, a beloved topic for the Conservatives, is more than a little suspect coming so soon after Rishi Sunak’s speech on “extremism.” 

“Freedom-Restricting Challenges”

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Many would be wise to be suspicious of what seems like a deliberate pivot to get the Conservative party back on more solid ground following weeks of scandal following their MPs facing “freedom-restricting challenges” based on the abhorrent things they said.

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The post Schools Out of Control: Government Unveils Plans to Protect Teachers from Abuse first appeared on Edge Media.

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Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

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