Teachers at a school went on strike over “management failure” to tackle pupils’ bad behaviour.
Around 40 members of NASUWT, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, formed a picket line outside Heworth Grange School in Gateshead on Thursday morning.
They were also joined by some Sixth Form students for a short time who said they supported the action.
The union said going on strike was a last resort for “dedicated and committed teachers” but claimed there had been a failure by the employers to effectively deal with their concerns.
John Hall, NASUWT national executive member, said teachers had suffered verbal and physical abuse from a minority of students and they wanted school leaders to bring in tougher sanctions to deal with the issues.
He added: “We are taking strike action because we are in dispute with regards to safe working practises and the implementation of a behaviour policy.
“Teachers have experienced both verbal and physical abuse, and open defiance from a minority of students.
“They find it very difficult to educate in that kind of climate.”
He said the union had started talking to the school about a draft behaviour plan, which members had considered but they felt it did “not go far enough”.
He added: “We expect a lot more from the school regarding how they deal with student incidents on a daily basis.
“For example, if there is physical abuse, then they should look at permanent exclusion or alternative provision.”
It is understood the school was closed to youngsters in years seven, eight, nine and 10. Pupils in Year 11 and post-16 were asked to attend as normal.
Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT, added: ” Teachers are entitled to a safe working environment and employers have a legal duty of care for their employees.
“The NASUWT remains committed to engaging with the employer to resolve this dispute and avoid further industrial action but the employer needs to take the concerns of the teachers seriously.”
Further strike action has been planned for March 5, 6, 12, 13 and 14.
Heworth Grange has been contacted for comment.
In a letter to parents last week, head teacher Chris Richardson said: “We must hope that the issues over which the industrial action has arisen are resolved as soon as possible.”
The school was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in 2017, in a report which the head said many parents “didn’t recognise” and which, he said, focused too much on ‘headline’ exam scores, overlooking many of the qualities of the school.
Following the report, it became an academy, and is now officially part of Consilium Academies trust, which runs three other schools across the North East and four more across Manchester and South Yorkshire.