Attacks by pupils on primary teachers at 5-year high

The number of assauts on primary school teachers is at a five-year-high. Picture (posed by models): Sean Bell
The number of assauts on primary school teachers is at a five-year-high. Picture (posed by models): Sean Bell
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THE number of pupil assaults on city primary school teachers has jumped to a five-year high – amid claims staff are sufferings attacks and threats on a daily basis.

Union sources have told the Evening News that they have heard of teachers “having their teeth knocked out” and “requiring stitches” for injuries sustained.

It’s an unfortunate reality that incidents of aggression do happen in our schools but whenever they occur we take them very seriously”

PAUL GODZIK

New data shows there were 77 incidents involving mainstream primary school teaching staff in 2014-15 – up from 73 the year before and 34 in 2011-12.

By contrast, there were no officially reported assaults in high schools during the past three school sessions.

The figures have sparked alarm among teachers, who also said the suggestion that senior classrooms are free of violence was “nonsense”.

One Edinburgh teacher, who asked not to be named, said: “There are some schools where you would expect it to happen almost on a daily basis – the worst behaviour tends to be in more challenging schools, obviously.

“I know assaults happen at a reasonable rate of regularity. Serious physical assaults are less frequent but not unusual. I know of teachers being hit – really hard – and slapped, of kids being kicked out of school for hitting teachers.

“Pencils, rulers and other classroom items are commonly thrown at teachers. Desks and chairs get kicked over. And there are threats – I know of one teacher who said a kid made as if he was going to throw a head-butt.”

Calling for a “robust” approach to disciplining youngsters who lash out, he said: “If a child assaults a teacher, they should be excluded – if not permanently then certainly for a long time.

“And there should be a process so the child really understands how serious it is. And that child should not be reintegrated until the school and the authority are happy the child won’t reoffend. The second time it happens, that child should be permanently excluded.”

He said figures indicating there were no assaults reported in high schools over the past three years were “hard to believe”.

“There will have been dozens,” he added. “That’s a straightforward reflection of the fact that primary schools are addressing it and secondary schools are sweeping it under the carpet.

“The initial reporting is fine but it’s what happens afterwards. Reports seem to get lost or they’re not dealt with by senior management.”

Jane Peckham, NASUWT national official for Scotland, said: “In too many schools there is still unacceptable pressure on staff not to report assaults to the police or even to their union so that they can receive help.

“This is a frequent concern raised by primary school teachers. Concealing and failing to deal appropriately with violence will only make matters worse.”

Alex Ramage, parent representative on the city council’s education committee, said: “I think parents would be concerned at the amount of disruption that these assaults cause, or potentially could cause, and the administrative time required to get these children back into school.

“If a teacher is assaulted by a child then the teacher would be quite within their right to say, ‘I do not want to teach that child’.”

City bosses said attacks on teachers were “unacceptable” and that they would always seek to support victims.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “It is an unfortunate reality that incidents of aggression do happen in our schools but whenever they occur we take them very seriously. Whilst positively supporting staff through management actions, counselling and mentoring, we also work with individuals and families to address unacceptable behaviour and reduce the number of incidents.”