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Strike over 'unruly' school pupils

Teachers are to strike at a troubled secondary school in protest at violence and threats from unruly pupils, unions have said.

Staff at Darwen Vale High School in Darwen, Lancashire, say they are also angry at what they see as a lack of backing from management at the school.

The unusual move - teachers have gone on strike over pay and conditions before but rarely over school discipline - comes after Education Secretary Michael Gove signalled a new crackdown on discipline in the classroom.

Around 70 of the 80 teachers at the 1,100 pupil school will protest outside the school gates on Thursday morning.

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) voted overwhelmingly to take a one-day strike action which will close the school for 24 hours.

The dispute is supported by members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the support staff's union, Unison.

Teaching unions said members felt the school was "out of control" but lacked backing from management when dealing with discipline. Unions have received several complaints from members including pushing, shoving and swearing at teachers and some pupils filming staff on mobile phones and clips being posted on Facebook.

There has also been problems of cyber bullying and pornography but when teachers confiscated pupils' phones they have then been returned by management, leaving staff "totally undermined," it is claimed.

Simon Jones, National Executive Member for the NUT, said: "Members are taking strike action as a last resort because of the headteacher's continued denials that there is a problem with pupil behaviour in the school and her refusal to engage properly with staff and unions to find effective solutions to these challenges."

Headteacher Hilary Torpey began her first full academic year at the school in September. No one was available for comment from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.

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