On Saturday a number of national and regional media outlets reported the story of 10-year-old boy attacking two female teachers at his school ‘in Avalon Road, Orpington’. It resulted in both teachers being taken to hospital – one with a broken leg and dislocated kneecap and the other bearing facial injuries.
None of the outlets went into any more detail, not even the name of the school or its background. Instead the Autonomous Mind blog was left with an exclusive about the school, Burwood School, an establishment for boys with special educational needs that has a number of troubled and previously excluded youngsters on its small roll. No other media sought out and reported these details.
Some hours later the details carried on Autonomous Mind, including the elements of the 2011 Ofsted report cited in the blog post, were picked up by BBC London who despatched Paul Curran to the previously un-named school to deliver the details in a BBC London news report.
But being the BBC, the report just had to include a different slant that furthered a favoured and seemingly unrelated pet narrative. This saw Curran lead in to a televised quote by a teaching union official from an un-named union, who himself was also un-named, by saying:
One teaching union expects the situation to get worse because of the economic downturn.
But can you spot any mention of the economic downturn in the official’s broadcast assessment of attacks on teachers by their pupils, quoted in its entirety below?
In today’s society, where lives are difficult, stressful, often chaotic, it’s no wonder that very occasionally children go completely off the rails.
There could be any number of causes for lives being difficult, stressful or chaotic. But the BBC has decided the cause of an increase in attacks on teachers will be as a result of the economic downturn.
This isn’t factual news reporting, it is opportunist speculation mixed with personal opinion, pushed on viewers without any supporting evidence whatsoever. And it deliberately ignores the particular circumstances of the incident at Burwood School given the challenging nature of the school’s troubled pupils.
It has no place on a publicly funded service broadcaster, but it happens over and over again.