Teacher Who Banned The Word 'Banter' Quits Job

A supply teacher who banned the word 'banter' in his classroom because it 'encouraged bullying' has left his job following the fall-out from his comments

Mike Stuchbery, 35, who taught at Lynn Grove High School, in Gorleston, Norfolk, wrote a blog condemning use of the word 'as an excuse for bullying'.

The teacher, who had been employed on a three-month contract 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.

After a discussion with the school on Wednesday, Mr Stuchbery said it was 'mutually agreed that I'd probably benefit from a new beginning somewhere else'.

He announced he had left his job in a follow-up blog post, writing: "I still can't work out whether what I said was the right thing to say.

"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."

Mr Stuchbery said he had agreed to leave with immediate effect after visiting a doctor who signed him off for stress after the episode.

He said: "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.

"If I catch somebody nicking someone's pencil case, 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.

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

He added: "I made a crack about how I'd made the papers while someone else who proposed dropping English as a subject hadn't had any response.

"I was given the impression that I could have brought down Ofsted on the school (they'd been there the previous week) and that the kids might think I thought they were poorly behaved – that might be why I was getting the reception I was getting."

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