THERE may have been 74 incidents of violence, drugs, weapons, welfare and misuse of technology in public schools in the Central West, but long-time teacher Craig Petersen said the vast majority of students were “absolutely fabulous”.
The latest report by the NSW Department of Education reveals that from July to December 2017, there were: 27 welfare incidents, 25 for violence, followed by drugs (10), weapons (eight), inappropriate use of technology (three) and other (one).
NSW Secondary Principals’ Council deputy president Mr Petersen has been a teacher for 31 years and said in his experience students’ behaviour had not changed a lot during this time.
“Kids have always wagged class, they’ve always fought, they’ve always had a smoke behind the shed and passed notes to each other,” he said.
Mr Petersen, however, said these days there were a number of very significant differences – teachers and schools were more professional, there was more public scrutiny and everything was reportable.
The widespread use of mobile phones by students also meant that many incidents were now being posted to social media by students.
“I don’t think kids have fundamentally changed, what’s more visible is our level of accountability,” he said.
Kids have always wagged class, they’ve always fought, they’ve always had a smoke behind the shed and passed notes to each other.NSW Secondary Principals’ Council deputy president Craig Petersen
Mr Peteresen said parents of children returning to school this week should not be worried.
“Ninety-five per cent of kids and 95 per cent of parents are absolutely fabulous,” he said.
“A very small number of kids are causing a very large number of issues.
“If they don’t behave there are really clear consequences, some of which involve police.”
With reference to the 10 drug cases featured in the report, Mr Petersen said alcohol and tobacco consumed or held by students was listed in the NSW Department of Education report as a drug.
Charles Sturt University (CSU) School of Education head David Smith said new teachers are prepared for classroom life while completing their degree.
“We have subjects such as child development, inclusive education and classroom management,” he said.
Mr Smith said once in the classroom, new teachers work with a mentor and within the school’s policies.
We’re starting to know those signs better than ever before for kids who are struggling.Charles Sturt University School of Education head David Smith
“Our students would not work alone … teaching students would be guided very much in their training,” he said.
Mr Smith said during his 20 years as a teacher he had seen university degrees change to meet the needs of modern students and those who teach them.
“The whole learning context is an ever-changing concept,” he said.
“We’re starting to know those signs better than ever before for kids who are struggling.
“We’re endeavouring to notice signs and to help students and put in strategies whereby we can help.”