Bullies, brawls and truancy: diary of a week in Britain's schools

Assaults on teachers, reports of pupils driven to suicide, guns brought to school - just a few of the incidents seen in this country last week. Sarah Cassidy reports
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The Independent Online

Monday 2 May

Monday 2 May

Telford: Head teachers condemn irresponsible parents, saying classroom discipline is collapsing because children lack basic social training. Some cannot even use a knife and fork. Giving parents powers over school would be like "putting an alcoholic in charge of a bar", according to David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (pictured above).

London: Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Education, wants hi-tech computer tracking systems to combat truancy and bad behaviour.

Tuesday

London: A teenager from south-east London admits raping a teacher in the classroom when he was just 15. The Old Bailey is told he subjected the 28-year-old victim to a frenzied attack with bites, headbutts and death threats. She was left half-naked and covered in blood. He will be sentenced next month.

Kidderminster: The mother of 14-year-old Amy Rose Tipton says bullying drove her to suicide.

Nationwide: Insurers blame pupils and former pupils for an epidemic of school fires, now running at 20 a week.

Canterbury: A court condemns the "vile behaviour" of two teenagers who kicked a rabbit around their school field in a 20-minute game of lunchtime football.

Wednesday

Plymouth: Police are called to Lipson Community College in Plymouth and a 16-year-old boy is arrested after an alleged assault puts one of his teachers in hospital.

Barnsley: Armed police say they were called to Edward Sheerien School in Barnsley after a boy was seen with a gun.

Manchester: Linda Walker (pictured above), the teacher driven to fire an air gun by gangs of bullying youths, is released from jail early.

London: It emerges that the 15-year-old rapist had a history of violence dating back to when he was at primary school.

Thursday

Birmingham: Police say they arrested seven parents following a brawl at Firs Primary School in Bromford, which was said to have been sparked by claims of bullying. Five are from the same family. Police are stationed to prevent further violence.

Birmingham: Another mother claims her daughter has been driven to suicide by bullies. Anna Marie Averill attended the Hillcrest School in Bartley Green. The school denies she was bullied.

Friday

Swindon: A teacher is cleared of assault after restraining a pupil who attempted to evade detention by running out of class. Swindon magistrates court heard that the 12-year-old boy, at Greendown School, was a regular truant, smoked marijuana and had been involved in more than 50 disciplinary incidents. The head of PE, Clive Harding, said that he had feared being stabbed.

Bristol: Hartcliffe Engineering Community College in Bristol says it is planning to show satellite television during breaks to stop pupils from playing truant after lunch.

London: Tony Blair promises to "bring back a proper sense of respect in our schools".

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