- By Joe Leogue
A second level student in Dublin told his pregnant teacher he would ‘kick the baby out of her’ - and was allowed return to class the next day.
The story is one example of the intimidation, harassment, and assault suffered by teachers that were aired at the Teachers’ Union of Ireland’s Annual Congress in Wexford earlier day.
Audrey Cepeda is an English teacher at a second level school in Coolock, and chair of the Dublin City branch of the TUI. She yesterday raised some of the indiscipline issues at schools and other educational institutions that she says are not being addressed by management.
“There was a pregnant teacher who had to challenge a student due to his behaviour. He got quite aggressive, the teacher challenged him, kept very calm, told him his behaviour was not acceptable.
“He went for the teacher and told her, I won’t use the explicit language, but that he was going to kick the baby out of the teacher.
“The teacher got quite frightened, and left the room. In that split second, as a teacher, you’re thinking ‘I can’t leave the room because this guy is hyped up and aggressive, and I can’t leave that person in that room with 20 other students’, because obviously you have a duty of care to the other students.
“But this teacher felt she had no other option. She left the room and the student followed. She found a side room that she locked herself into and called the school office from her mobile phone,” Ms Cepeda said.
A motion put forward by Ms Cepeda's branch was backed by delegates today. It called on the TUI to conduct a study of its members to gauge the level of work-related stress caused by a failure to properly discipline aggressive students.
“We find that there are breaches right left and centre, codes of behaviours aren’t being followed and it is being put back on the teacher.”
Ms Cepeda said this then leads to teachers taking sick leave due to stress - but that they are afraid to put this on their sick cert. She argues that this means the true level of stress suffered by teachers is not appreciated due to under reporting.