The Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools (BAPPSS) has flatly rejected a recent suggestion that its members are partly to blame for the potentially life-threatening environment in which teachers are forced to work.
Instead, BAPPSS President Juanita Wade declared that the issue of student-on-teacher violence facing some teachers was receiving the full attention of local head teachers.
During yesterday’s emergency mass meeting spearheaded by the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU), President Mary-Ann Redman accused some principals of ignoring the cries of teachers, whose lives were threatened by the behaviours of extremely violent students.
Among the 13 recommendations presented to teachers was a directive for them under certain circumstances, to directly seek police intervention if their safety was compromised.
The BSTU president also accused some principals of subjecting teachers to “psychological violence” in the form of manipulative and vindictive behaviors.
“Some of them display unfair and prejudicial behavior and frustrate, demean and belittle teachers in their workplace and too often in the presence of their students and other colleagues. That has to stop,” said Redman. She also argued that teachers continued to fear “punitive transfers” when they seek to have their rights represented.
“They [teachers] fear inequitable interdiction and suspensions done often without transparency and consistency and only on accusations, which aren’t often properly substantiated… That has to stop,” demanded Redman.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Wade who is the Principal of Harrison College, defended the integrity of principals, describing the accusations as “unfortunate”.
“If they are not satisfied with us, then they have the Chief Education Officer and they can take a case to the chief. If they think that it merits going outside of that, then they are free to do that. We can’t stop anyone from doing that. All we ask is that they give us a chance to intervene and try to help resolve the issues.
“It is unfortunate that this is the impression that has been given. We need to know what is going on and therefore if teachers complain of matters, which we feel need to go to the police, we make the call. If they are not satisfied with our intervention then as individuals, they are free to call the police. But we expect that they will bring it to us first. That is the important thing,” said Wade.
Representatives of BAPPS will have a seat at the table over the weekend, when Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw will sit down with various stakeholders in education to find solutions to the problem.
Coming out of the meetings, Wade wants to see a more holistic approach to the fight against school violence.
“We are going to need the efforts of all the social agencies and very important will be the home, the church and all of the other agencies and we believe we should be working together on the solutions, because we exist within a society. Schools are not just here by themselves. We exist within a society and we believe that cooperation from the society will be needed to get the types of solutions that we are hoping for.
“We want our schools to be safe havens, we want the students to be comfortable, we want the teachers to be comfortable and we want to address any concerns that would prevent teaching and learning from happening,” said Wade.
During yesterday’s meeting, teachers recounted numerous instances of violence, in which teachers came face-to-face with students bearing lethal weapons.
“Obviously we are just as concerned. Teachers work with us everyday here on the compound and the children are here, so obviously we have to be very concerned that our schools are safe havens and that our students and teachers can feel free to carry out the business that they are here for.
“I am not going to use the word crisis from our viewpoint, but if a teacher feels that way, then we respect that and we will have to respond to suit,” said Wade.
Barbados TODAY also pressed Wade on the Ministry of Education’s decision to place principal of the Grantley Adams Secondary School, Valdez Francis on suspension, pending ministry investigations.
“That is something that we are not going to comment on. We are not able to comment on that,” said Wade.