Conduct of a high school in Goodwood probed after bullying incident

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Bullying is still a problem in schools today and should not be tolerated.
Bullying is still a problem in schools today and should not be tolerated.

With the concerns of pressure that negatively affects learners mentally, a parent raised her concerns about what is going on in a high school in Goodwood.

This after her daughter who is a learner at the school ended up in a mental institution because of the misconduct and disruptive behaviour of learners, as well as bullying.

According to the parent learners swears at teachers, and even cut themselves in class, to a point where teachers cannot do anything and just storm out.

After going to the school to enquire about the happenings, staff members brushed it off as “a trend” and “that’s the way children speak”.

After nine months of trying to get hold of the principal, the parent finally got to meet with the principal. There the principal took out a long spreadsheet of all the complaints, leaving the parent to feel that “a child must first murder before they are suspended”.

“What about the innocent learners?” was the parent’s big question. In one of the incidents, her daughter had a panic attack, with no teacher in class because of misconduct of other learners, her daughter was admitted to a mental institution shortly thereafter.

“What about the parents that cannot afford mental clinics or institutions?”

This school also has an anti-bullying campaign going, but according to the parent that campaign is not working, because nothing is done to the bullies.

A resident living next to the school premises said it is sad the way learners talk on the school grounds and with teachers.

Upon questioning the school, TygerBurger was refered to the provincial education department.

Millicent Merton from the communications directorate at the provincial education department said there are a variety of issues affecting learners today. Many are a result of societal issues – such as poverty, substance abuse, gangsterism, violence, and also, and very sadly, a lack of parental care and involvement in their children’s lives.

Merton said the grade head of the school was in contact with the mother while the learner received treatment at the institution.

The role of parents

Merton stated that parents have a large role to play in instilling values, morals and discipline in their children. “As a parent, you are their role model and help to shape their opinions, values, attitudes and approaches toward learning and life in general. Maintaining discipline at home contributes to discipline at school. Sadly, we have seen how the lack of parental support, motivation and encouragement, as well as distant parenting, abusive parents or disruptive family environments can affect the learner. It can affect their behaviour at school and also lead to anti-social behaviour both in school and outside of school.”

“Disruptive behaviour can lead to classroom disruption which can ultimately affect the delivery of the curriculum. It can also lead to violence, bullying or intimidation.”

A safe, fun, and caring learning environment

“Ultimately we want to create safe, fun and caring learning environments for all learners where they can be stimulated and nurtured – however when there is a learner or learners that constantly disrupt the classroom, this ultimately affects the rest of the learners in that specific class, or school,” Merton said.

In terms of disciplinary action – a governing body of a public school must adopt a code of conduct for the learners after consultation with the learners, parents and educators of the school. A code of conduct must be aimed at establishing a disciplined and purposeful school environment, dedicated to the improvement and maintenance of the quality of the learning process. It must be applied humanely and inclusively that is in no way derogatory.

'Positive Behaviour' programme

The department has recently budgeted additional funding for their Positive Behaviour programme which is a strengths-based approach to disciplining and guiding children and youth.

“Every district has positive behaviour support programmes which capacitate our teachers in dealing with disruptive behaviours in the classroom, and other strategies include anti-bullying, classroom management, building a restorative code of conduct, peace discipline and diversity programmes.”

“In addition to the Positive Behaviour programme, is the Transform to Perform Strategy. The department wishes to nurture a learner, instilled with values, and who acts with respect for others, be it an educator, staff member or learner.”

Transform to perform strategy

“Part of our Transform to Perform strategy is driving the values conversations that need to take place in our schools. The Transform to Perform Strategy has a Values programme that is currently being implemented in schools. We have conducted extensive training for educators in Values in Education.

“Schools have been asked to choose values and to explain, talk, show and live these values.

“These values include respect for one another, kindness, caring etc. Schools are to have ongoing discussions with learners on values and undertake various initiatives that showcase them.

“Values such as respect for educators also need to be taught at home. Learners also need to respond to instruction positively.”

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