Department blames managers as teachers marked absent

ABSENTEEISM has emerged as a major problem in a Dublin school — and not just among the pupils.

A Department of Education report says that absenteeism among teachers is a cause for concern at the Trinity Comprehensive School in Ballymun where morale and motivation are low. But the report puts the blame for the problem firmly at the door of school management.

In unusually strong language, the Whole School Evaluation report claims the board and senior management are underestimating the real level of discontent and disillusionment among both staff and students.

“The sense of community in the school, which was built up over many years, is growing weaker. Teachers and students have lowered their expectations of each other and of the school. In general, a worsening downward spiral in the spirit of the school is evident,” the report states.

The co-educational school has 654 pupils and is run by a board of management under the join trusteeship of the Archbishop of Dublin and the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee. It was set up three years ago through an amalgamation of three schools.

The strengths of the school lie in the high level of experience of the teaching staff, the report found. But there was on-going social upheaval in the area due to the demolition of the tower blocks and the re-housing of many families.

The report says pupil indiscipline is causing difficulties for management, teachers, and other students.

Examples include absenteeism, lateness, poor behaviour on the corridors, bullying, disruption of classes, and generally a climate of indiscipline prevails, according to the report.

Management and staff have found it difficult to get to grips with this problem, as it has become embedded in the culture of the school.

Some teachers reported that they felt unsupported by management in efforts to deal with difficult students. Stress and anxiety levels had increased. Communications between staff and management, and in some cases among staff, were difficult.

Due to a sense of frustration, difficulties and problems that were normally dealt with at a professional level had become personalised in some instances. This had resulted in issues becoming clouded and communication even more difficult.

Inaccessible

The report says the current code of student behaviour is excessively long and unclear, taking up 11 pages. It is written in language that is inaccessible to most students and parents. It should be written in a more concise manner, using simple and clear language.

Students should know clearly what is expected of them. Staff and management should be visible in front of the school in the mornings and at lunchtime, to encourage good timekeeping and challenge latecomers. They should be visible on the corridors when classes are changing over. Steps must be taken to discourage students from leaving class to wander around the school corridors, unless for a specific reason which can be readily checked. Corridors must be patrolled at all times, the report goes on.

Teachers must provide positive leadership by being on time for classes. No classes or groups of students should ever be left unsupervised, even if this means bringing classes together in a canteen or other large area. Opportunities for students to misbehave should be eliminated.

Over time, firm routines, expectations and procedures could be established, the report concludes.

(source: http://www.independent.ie/national-news/department-blames-managers-as-teachers-marked-absent-1591094.html – John Walshe Education Editor)

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

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