Rise in primary teacher assaults

65 youngsters attacked staff during 2013-14. Picture (posed by models): Robert Perry

65 youngsters attacked staff during 2013-14. Picture (posed by models): Robert Perry

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PRIMARY school teachers are reporting more than double the number of attacks by pupils in city schools compared to just two years ago.

Sixtyfive youngsters launched direct physical attacks on staff in 2013-14, with two incidents requiring hospital treatment and one resulting in a call to police.

This was up from 48 in the Capital in 2012-13 and more than double the 2011-12 total of 29.

Teachers suffered injuries ranging from punches and kicks to head-butts and bites, as pupils used weapons including scissors, wooden bricks, chairs and pins.

While the issue of aggressive behaviour appears to be worsening in primaries, no high school pupils were reported over the 2012-13 and 2013-14 sessions.

Union leaders said the trend would only be reversed through families working closely with staff. And they said no teacher should be left to face assault in the classroom, stressing exclusions would often be necessary to address violence.

A spokesman for the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest teaching union, said: “It is clear that, in cases where pupils have persistently displayed an inability to behave acceptably in class, alternative provision will sometimes be necessary.

“In severe cases, where pupils demonstrate violent behaviour towards their teacher, a stricter approach will often be required such as removing the pupil from the school and, where necessary, reporting incidents to the police.”

Parent representatives also voiced concern at the figures and called on education bosses to provide robust support for staff amid a trend towards accommodating a growing number of children with additional needs in mainstream classrooms.

Tina Woolnough, Edinburgh representative for the National Parent Forum for Scotland, said: “Any assault on a teacher is a matter of concern.

“I am sure that schools and local authorities look at every incident very carefully to examine possible underlying causes and I would hope that suitable support and behaviour management strategies are put in place to help children who clearly have not managed their own behaviour.”

City chiefs said attacks on Edinburgh’s teachers would not be tolerated.

Councillor Paul Godzik, education leader, said: “We will always support staff who are victims and will take action against anyone committing these offences.

“Whilst positively supporting staff through management actions, counselling and mentoring, we also work with individuals and families to address unacceptable behaviour and reduce incidents.”