Punched, spat on, bitten and verbally abused. This is a day in the life of a high school teacher.
Punched, spat on, bitten and verbally abused. This is a day in the life of a high school teacher.

Bashings, abuse and spitting: Inside horror high schools

Punched, spat on, bitten, sexually harassed and verbally abused. Welcome to a day in the life of a high school teacher.

In any other workplace this would be a scandal. But Sydney's high school teachers are expected to not just put up with it - they are the ones blamed for student misbehaviour.

And it is not just their safety but the safety of other students that is put at risk.

While these sorts of incidents are happening at many schools, on many occasions, The Saturday Telegraph has obtained a list of incident reports from one school.

We have chosen not to identify this school to avoid stigmatising the majority of students who are just trying to learn.

Teachers wanted these incidents made public in the hope of bringing change.

"We want the public to know what keeps us from the job of teaching and education," one said.

"When we talk about resources we are not talking about books, we are talking about support systems in place to help us keep the students safe, and under control, and focused on learning."

Another said teachers are blamed when students are disruptive.

"We are accused of poor behaviour management but our kids come from violence and poverty and this is how they interact with the world outside of school," she said.

"Until you spend a day in our world you have no idea what we go through each day."



A western Sydney school has suspended seven students over a vicious assault on a 14-year-old girl.

The Saturday Telegraph revealed shocking video footage of the girl being beaten by a large group of students as others watched on, heckling and filming on their mobile phones.

The video, circulated on social media, led to the subsequent arrest of a 14-year-old girl who has been charged with assault school student occasioning actual bodily harm.

James Busby High School has since placed six students on long suspension and one on a short suspension. Some of these students are engaging with the school counsellor.

The teen victim has not returned to the school since the October 30 attack. Her sister said she was seeing a psychologist and was starting to feel better within herself, however she was scared to go back to the school.

"The school has been calling us and checking in with our family but she is not ready to talk or go back in there," the sister said.

"We want to find her a new school where she can feel safe. She's worried about being a target now."

The 14-year-old student has not returned to James Busby High School following her attack. Picture: Tim Hunter
The 14-year-old student has not returned to James Busby High School following her attack. Picture: Tim Hunter

The NSW Department of Education's Learning and Wellbeing team is in contact with the family to support them moving forward, including with offers of support for schooling options which the family is currently considering.

The action comes as frightened teachers claim the school has a "significant violence problem" and the assault was not a "rare occurrence".

In a letter to the Education Department obtained by The Saturday Telegraph, one teacher called for open discussion about the "significant violence problem, insidiously penetrating the culture of the school".

"There is no hiding that now. So let's raise the issue, have the hard conversation, and bring about reforms that support the individual context of the school," he wrote.

The teacher described himself as a "coward" for hiding behind the anonymity of his letter but "like so many other staff who walk the corridors of James Busby High School" was "too scared" to put his hand up, "petrified we will be reprimanded for speaking out".

A 14-year-old girl is punched during a violent attack at James Busby High School.
A 14-year-old girl is punched during a violent attack at James Busby High School.

The teacher said unless the high school is given additional resources, teaching staff and infrastructure, "then I have grave fears for the safety of students and staff at James Busby High School".

In his letter, the teacher said the staff felt unsupported by the Senior Executive "who themselves are overwhelmed by the avalanche of disrespectful, aggressive and often violent behaviour of our students".

"They don't have the resources, infrastructure or additional teachers at hand to deal with the revolving door of students who need to be reprimanded for their behaviour - so the students get away with it."

"I tell a student to sit down, I am told: 'F**king make me c**t'," he said.

"While I am teaching, I am dodging flying objects that other students are throwing in the fans, trying to get students off their phones, stopping them throwing each other's belongings out the window, all the while dealing with students who aren't in my class, who are banging on my door, at times kicking my door, trying to get in so they can talk to their friends. And that's in a good lesson."

He said teachers are going home exhausted, feeling like they had failed to do their job.

They have called for more in-school suspension centres - preferably one onsite - where students get the same discipline and boundaries they would in class.

The Year 9 student was repeatedly punched and kicked.
The Year 9 student was repeatedly punched and kicked.

"We are a school that is in a low socio-economic and culturally diverse area. Our students do not have access to computers or internet at home to engage in research tasks or the work posted to online learning platforms," the teacher said.

The department has 22 suspension centres for students on long suspension who have been identified by their school as likely to benefit from a structured program to assist with a successful return to their school.

In the Greater Sydney region, there are 42 places with a need to cater for 1488 schools, the teacher said.

"That is a great disproportion of resources available to support the proven violence issue teachers are facing. That's probably how many places James Busby High School needs on its own," the teacher said.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said "the wellbeing and welfare of students and staff are the highest priorities for James Busby High School".

"Matters involving student behaviour are treated seriously and addressed under the school's student discipline and wellbeing policies," the spokeswoman said.

"The school is especially proud of the quality teaching and learning provided to students in its Special Education Unit, which is the largest in NSW."


Private schools to get new counsellors

Elite schools urged to stop veil of secrecy on suicides

Originally published as Bashings, abuse, spitting: Inside horror high