Violent parents, power-drunk principals, out-of-control students – a veteran teacher has revealed the horrors of teaching in today’s primary schools.
Violent parents, power-drunk principals, out-of-control students – a veteran teacher has revealed the horrors of teaching in today’s primary schools.

Bullies, violence: Teacher reveals all in explosive report

Violent parents, classrooms full of students medicated for disorders, and principals who are "horrific bullies" are all in a day's work for exhausted Queensland educators.

Children as young as six are trying to set classrooms on fire, stabbing teachers with scissors and calling them c--ts.

Many kids arrive hungry, filthy and have spent the night "cowering under their beds" as parents attack each other in drug and alcohol-fuelled rages.

Learning is further compromised by a content-heavy curriculum that kills creativity, while stressed-out teachers "live in fear" of poor NAPLAN results and power-drunk principals.

Add reduced government funding to the mix and children are falling through the cracks and turning to crime.


A Brisbane school teacher has spoken out about the shocking state of Queensland’s schools. Picture: Jamie Hanson
A Brisbane school teacher has spoken out about the shocking state of Queensland’s schools. Picture: Jamie Hanson

This scathing education report card comes from a passionate teacher of 30 years who has "seen and heard it all" in state and private primary schools across Brisbane and beyond. The married mother of two teenagers, who wishes to remain anonymous to protect her career, is speaking out because she wants to see change.

At the top of her list is improved mental health and social support in schools to help "damaged, broken little people".

She wants education to get back to basics, and greater support and respect for the role of teachers.

"You go into teaching to make a difference but sometimes everything you do is still not enough," she says.

"Shocking stuff goes on, it's heartbreaking, and classrooms can be warzones."

Her candid revelations come as Education Queensland data shows attacks on teachers have soared in the past five years. The number of suspensions for assaults with objects has increased by 29 per cent while attacks without objects are up by 50 per cent. The pressure on teachers to meet unrealistic expectations has also been identified in recent studies as a major reason people quit the profession, particularly in the first few years.

While this veteran educator is in it for the long haul, she wants to expose the truth about teaching in today's primary schools.






Not all state schools are created equal. What goes on in affluent inner city schools cannot be compared to what happens in outer disadvantaged areas.

In one of my grade 3 classes, half of the students were on medication for behavioural disorders or mental health problems - and six boys were so hard core, every single day.

One would lock himself in the storeroom and I'd finally coerce him into the classroom and get him into his desk and he'd reach out and punch the kid sitting beside him in the head.

I've had a student try to set the classroom on fire and two boys who really enjoyed getting on the roof and putting sticks in the TV antenna.

There is constant noncompliance and disrespect.

These kids come from such dysfunctional families and are in constant fight or flight mode.

If you ever do meet the parents, mum's got no teeth because the latest boyfriend's knocked them out.

Kids are either up all night cowering under their beds, hiding from violent adults who are boozing and drugging, or their stepdad is chasing them down the road with a knife.

They come to school damaged and broken, so I try to create a positive family environment within the classroom and I tell them we need to make sure everyone is feeling welcome and safe.

We celebrate the smallest of wins, like someone going from 3/10 for spelling one week to 5/10 the next, because it's about instilling self-confidence.

Mental health is an increasing problem.

I've face-timed a nine-year-old girl in a psychiatric hospital to let her know I am there for her any hour of the day or night. We need to be wrapping around our kids a lot more - there are not enough services within schools, yet kids are crying out for help and unless we deal with that first and help them with whatever is going on, we can't make any difference to their learning.








School should be a place kids want to come. Learning should be fun, integrated and meaningful to everybody. It's not. It's data driven and one-size-fits-all.

Principals and heads of curriculum compare notes on how they're travelling - they're looking at NAPLAN and wondering why data isn't moving in the right direction.

It's because teachers aren't allowed anymore to nurture the kids. They don't have time to tailor-make programs and due to a reduction in funding, there is less support for children with needs.

Teacher aide hours continue to be cut. With students ranging from well-above to well-below the year-level standards, it's really hard to keep them all operating at an appropriate ability level when there's only one teacher running the room and there are social, medical and behavioural issues as well.

Today's curriculum is all about the content, a top-down approach that throws content at kids and moves on. There is too much to get through and the basics are suffering.

Children don't pick up literacy and numeracy by osmosis; they need better foundations.

A good way to reinforce learning and promote understanding is to get outside the classroom, but education has become overly regulated.

Legalities, red tape, risk assessment and filling out endless forms means taking kids on excursions is virtually impossible. We say to each other, "Well, we'd like to do this but when are we going to find the time on top of everything else?"

Yes, teachers need to be accountable, but how on earth can you compare someone who has a captive audience, like at Ascot State School where children have three meals a day and Mum and Dad are both professionals and value learning, with a teacher whose students are malnourished, have three different "dads", and parents don't care about homework?

It's wrong to use NAPLAN data to say one school's great and another is crap.

It is a point-in-time test that should be used to enhance future teaching and learning.

The things kids learn from NAPLAN are worthwhile - it doesn't hurt to know how to do persuasive writing, for example - but some schools spend all of first term teaching kids how to answer NAPLAN style questions.

Kids need to be able to think for themselves, and not be pressured by test scores.



The teacher claims staff are bullied and intimated by some principals.
The teacher claims staff are bullied and intimated by some principals.




Many principals are horrific bullies and scream at their staff, including over NAPLAN.

If you're a principal, you definitely should be critiquing your school against others with a similar demographic, and if teachers and students at those schools are performing better, you need to ask, "how can we do better?"

But bullying and intimidation isn't the answer.

I've been at schools where teachers are scared to take genuine sick days because they will be hauled over the coals.

Unfortunately, not all teachers are as passionate as they should be.

They turn up, do their hours, then get the hell out, but these are a minority. Most of us rarely clock off.

During the term you're up until 10.30pm correcting work, and you're thinking about kids in the middle of the night and some of the awful things they're dealing with.

Principals too are under a lot of pressure, but we need fewer who are drunk on power and more collaboration and respect.



Children's behaviour is definitely getting worse.

Many parents say, "here are my kids, fix them" but they're the first to go absolutely ballistic when their kids get in trouble.

A mother punched a male teacher in the throat - because he made her son stay back and finish off some homework.

Many of my colleagues have been assaulted by parents, so it's no wonder their kids are violent and reach for the scissors.

They'll tell teachers to get f--ked and call them the C word.

Rules around uniforms, hair styles and attendance aren't supported at home so it's easy to see why kids go completely off the rails and end up in gangs. Parents are throwing their hands in the air.

Why am I the one to tell a 10-year-old girl why it's inappropriate to send naked photos of herself to 17-year-old boys?

As a society, we need to be looking at what we accept and how we want our children to be raised. We know that lower literacy levels decreases success in future - look at the literacy levels of people in jail - so all invested agencies should be wrapping around kids from an early age to try to break the cycle.

Targeted early intervention is essential, yet there is no collaboration between support agencies.

Education is not just about the academics - it's so much more - you want to empower kids to form positive friendships, be resilient and deal with the cards they're dealt.

When you do succeed, it's the most rewarding thing of all.

It is really affirming when I get emails from former students saying, "You've got no idea what a difference you made in my life, thank you and I think of you often".

That's why I do what I do.


Originally published as Bully principals, violent parents: Teacher's explosive tell-all

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