Norfolk

Banter ban Norfolk teacher Mike Stuchbery leaves Lynn Grove High School

  • 27 November 2014
  • From the section Norfolk
Mike Stuchbery with hisblog
Image caption Supply teacher Mike Stuchbery has left the school where he worked after posting about banter on his blog

A teacher who banned the word banter in class has left his school by mutual consent after saying "speaking up" came at a "hefty cost".

Mike Stuchbery, who taught at Lynn Grove High School, in Gorleston, Norfolk, wrote a blog condemning use of the word "as an excuse for bullying".

Headteacher Alison Mobbs said his view was "shared by the staff".

Mr Stuchbery said the decision to leave was "so as not to further interrupt the learning of students".

The supply teacher, who had been employed through an agency, said he wrote his post entitled "I'm Banning Banter" on 5 November after "a particularly fractious day".

In it, he said he was "no longer going to take banter as an excuse for inappropriate behaviour" in his classroom.

The teacher said on Wednesday, after a phone call from his agency and a discussion with the school, it was "mutually agreed that I'd probably benefit from a new beginning somewhere else".

"While I unreservedly apologise for any disruption that I have caused, I stand by my comments about the use of banter as a cover for harassment and bullying," he said.


Mike Stuchbery blog extract

"If I catch somebody nicking someone's pencilcase, calling another student a derogatory name or thumping them on the back, nine times out of ten I'll be met with a 'Siiiiir, it's just bantaaaaaaaah!'...

...through repetition and the magic of social media, banter has become an acceptable, friendlier-sounding term for bullying. It attempts to mask inappropriate, appalling behaviour under the guise of some sort of ancient, noble, especially British tradition."


"I see its use as detrimental to the health and well-being of young people.

"Far too often we're told that the ability to make fun of others should outweigh the right of others to feel safe. This is not only irresponsible, it is contrary to the values of a functional society.

"What I do know is that speaking up as a teacher can have a pretty hefty cost. It is up to each of us separately to decide whether it's worth it."

Writing on his blog, he said he was "surprised" at the reaction of colleagues to his blog.

"The staffroom, full of people that would have otherwise greeted me, was eerily quiet," he said. "The kids, bless 'em, were a lot louder."

Ms Mobbs said the school took "a strong stance on bullying", and that Mr Stuchbery's views were "very close" to her own.

What's in a word?

Image caption Mr Stuchbery said the word banter was being used as an excuse to bully

The Oxford English Dictionary says that banter means "to make fun of (a person); to hold up to ridicule, 'roast'; to jest at, rally, 'chaff'. Now usually of good-humoured raillery".

The word is believed to have been first used in street slang in London in the 17th Century.

One of its earliest recorded uses appears in T d'Urfey's Madam Fickle from 1677: "Banter him, banter him Toby. 'Tis a conceited old Scarab, and will yield us excellent sport."

Read more: The backlash against banter

"I gave an assembly last year about how the word banter was being used to excuse unkind comments and that view is shared by the staff here," she said.

"I wish him all the best with his future career."

Last December, the school, which became an academy in 2012, was rated inadequate in its latest Ofsted inspection report.

Inspectors found too much teaching was inadequate or "not making enough impact on improving achievement".

Image caption Mr Stuchbery left Lynn Grove High School by mutual consent

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