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In defence of Michael Becker

Seaton Nick Seaton of the Campaign for Real Education on the teacher taken to court for hauling a disruptive pupil out of a lesson.

There has been public outrage against 'the system' that has punished Suffolk teacher Michael Becker so severely for what seems to have been a minor error of judgement. Mr Becker has a 32-year unblemished
record. Yet apparently one incident with an unruly pupil has cost him a £1,500 fine and £1,875 costs. That seems bad enough. But Mr Becker will almost certainly lose his job.

The contrast between the consequences suffered by Mr Becker and those suffered by thousands of others who get away with seriously bad behaviour could not be more stark.

This is more than just another example of how the balance of authority has radically shifted from teachers to pupils. It highlights the differences between those in cosy offices who set the policies and those in the front-line who must administer them and be held accountable for their actions.

How many bright, sensible young people would even consider teaching as a profession after this. Would you, in the current climate?

Mr Becker may have over-reacted against a troublesome pupil to whom, incidentally, he has apologised. But apart from those who pursued him through the courts knowing the likely consequences, who else may be to blame for this miserable affair and its outcome?

Could the head and school governors perhaps have done more to resolve the matter before it went too far?

Could local councillors or their officials have talked to all concerned and perhaps found a more equitable solution?  (My apologies if they tried. But as Mr Becker's employers, why have they failed to defend him?)

What about the justice system including the family's solicitors and the magistrate whose interpretation of the law seems to support recalcitrant children's rights at others' expense?

What about the children's rights lobby and the teachers' unions? They promote children's rights but whose rights take precedence? The rights of children to make their own decisions or the rights of teachers (or
parents) to keep order?

What about the irresponsible (or subversive?) Whitehall officials and successive education ministers who have allowed the current situation to develop?

Will any of these parties be held responsible for their actions or inaction?  Where's the justice in the severity of Mr Becker's punishment and the lack of accountability among those who created the culture that led to this mess in the first place?

Rightly or wrongly, Michael Becker was held personally responsible. How many others should, metaphorically at least,  have been 'in the dock' before him?


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