WACSSO stands with school communities, education stakeholders, and government working together to build respectful and safe schools for all

18 July 2023 General

WACSSO welcomes the Minister’s statement to address violence and aggression in WA schools; our schools must be safe learning and working environments for all people. Our school communities have long been calling for more action to be taken to ensure safety for all on school grounds. We hope implementing the action plan and provision of additional resources will give clear guidance to all people.

Building a culture of respect requires a collaborative approach that must include the voice of parents in the process. “Schools who work to create strong a strong culture of family engagement, where parents are informed of and contribute to the school’s behaviour policies, create powerful partnerships with parents that better support students to take responsibility for their actions. Shared terminology and expectations of behaviour at school and home create a consistent message about behaviour and support the efforts of teachers to maintain a positive classroom climate,” asserts Pania Turner, WACSSO President.

Reports of students and teachers being put at risk due to violent incidents in schools are disturbing and concerning. A renewed effort from all stakeholders is required to understand and address the factors contributing not only to school violence, but also to the filming and distribution of footage of these incidents. It is unfair and ineffective to hand over the issue of addressing violence to schools alone. Solutions require a whole community approach where families, services, schools, and government work together.

“We know from discussions with parents that there is growing concern over the increasingly complex nature of the school environment. With influences such as social media, increasing classroom disruption and concerns relating to violence in schools, children’s mental health and wellbeing, navigating this environment is very challenging for parents and families,” says Pania.

“WACSSO affiliates and WA parents have a clear expectation that public schools are places of safety for all staff and students,” she added. “High and medium level aggression and violence negatively impact students, staff and families. It is unreasonable to expect that a student can learn well when they feel anxious or unsafe at school. Equally, it is unreasonable to expect a teacher to perform well when they feel anxious or unsafe in their work environment. Therefore, it is critical that an urgent collective approach is taken to address the disruption and increasing behavioural issues being seen in our schools and classrooms.”

The Department has introduced parent resources that clearly state the expectations of both schools and parents. These resources reinforce the message that a partnership approach between schools and parents creates the best opportunity for success. Strong school-home relationships and appropriate role modelling from parents will help address challenges when they arise.

WACSSO believes that anybody, including parents, using aggression or violence to express their dissatisfaction or frustration against principals, teachers, school staff, students or even their own children should be dealt with by the police, and within the law.