Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Harsh truths laid out by teachers union boss show more must be done to protect teachers who are only trying to do job

Anyone thinking of becoming a teacher could be forgiven for having second thoughts after listening to NASUWT Northern Ireland president David Baxter addressing the union's annual conference today
Anyone thinking of becoming a teacher could be forgiven for having second thoughts after listening to NASUWT Northern Ireland president David Baxter addressing the union's annual conference today

Anyone thinking of becoming a teacher could be forgiven for having second thoughts after listening to NASUWT Northern Ireland president David Baxter addressing the union's annual conference today.

His description of what members of the profession have to face is alarming and his words should be heeded by those in authority.

On a personal level teachers face assaults in the classroom, trial by social media as well as an increasing workload, according to Mr Baxter.

And those problems are being played out against a backdrop of an education system in a perilous state due to lack of funding.

There was a time when teachers were regarded as pillars of society. If pupils came home complaining they had got into trouble in the classroom, they were more likely to get into further trouble rather than receive a sympathetic hearing.

Now disputes can escalate to physical assaults on teachers, either by pupils or even their parents, and teachers are being pilloried on social media, which is often the most unfair court of public opinion.

Little wonder that Mr Baxter says he has noticed an alarming increase in ill health among teachers. The vast majority simply want to give the pupils in their charge the best opportunity to reach their full potential and anything which interferes with that ambition deserves to be roundly criticised.

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Understandably, Mr Baxter wants police and government officials to work more closely together to protect teachers.

Certainly no one should ever go to work in fear of being physically attacked.

And, as in so many other areas of public service, the absence of a functioning Executive and Assembly is threatening the well-being of the education system. With no minister in charge, important decisions on the school estate and funding have been put on hold for more than two years and that is an unsustainable position. The politicians are certainly bottom of the class.

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