A Scottish teacher claims staff should be allowed to swear back at schoolchildren who get potty-mouthed in class. Gordon Cairns, a teacher at Govan High School, Glasgow, said swearing is part of students’ everyday lives, and they hear it while watching TV, in class, and from parents. Mr Cairns said that in the past year kids had regularly sworn at him with impunity, including “f*ck you” and “poofy head”. The teacher of English and forest school also revealed the mother of one pupil texted her son, calling him a “wee c*nt”.
Writing in an education magazine, Mr Cairns concluded: “Our education authorities should either have a policy of zero tolerance to abusive language or we should all agree that swearing in the classroom is allowed for all parties.
The current scenario where our only weapon is to say, ‘Don’t call me that’ is not enough.
Imagine teachers having the satisfaction of following suit – as well as allowing them to release the stress of being abused, it could also defuse the power of words, letting the abuser know that this language could be used by anyone.
Furthermore, the swearer might be less likely to use offensive language again, because they would know how it felt to be so disrespected.”
The teacher’s article was headlined; “F*ck it, let everybody swear in the classroom.” He added: “Not long ago, a pupil showed me a text message from his mother: 'U had better be back for tea ya wee c*nt.' So it is perhaps simply tilting at windmills to hope that being sworn at in the classroom can be brought to an end with some form of punishment.”
A spokeswoman for the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) disagreed with Mr Cairns’ suggestion.
She said: “Swearing is not acceptable in wider society and nor should it be in the classroom.
This would be for the employer to address in the first instance, in this case a local authority.
GTCS has clear guidelines for teachers in its Code of Professionalism and Conduct and we would expect teachers as professionals to follow these guidelines.”
A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “These are the personal views of one of our teachers and expressly not the views of either his school or the council.
Glasgow does operate a zero tolerance approach to verbal abuse against our school staff and expect our young people to act in an appropriate manner at all times.”
Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association General Secretary Seamus Searson said: “On the odd occasion teachers do swear, they can be put in front of the GTCS, but there’s a need for common sense.
It shouldn’t automatically be a disciplinary offence, it does occasionally slip out.”
However, he added: “It is not appropriate for a teacher to use foul language. We’re showing the way students should behave and if teachers do it, youngsters do it.”