2400 attacks on Edinburgh school support staff since 2015, new figures show

Support staff have been attacked or abused by pupils 2,478 times in the Capital during the last three school years, according to new figures.

Wednesday, 24th October 2018, 1:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th October 2018, 1:43 pm
Support staff have been attacked or abused by pupils more than 2,000 times since 2015.

Calls have been made for staff to be given more support after 1,675 injuries have been sustained in attacks since 2015.

During 2017/18, 738 incidents of support staff being attacked or abused by pupils were reported – including 512 assaults that resulted in injury.

Of these 738 incidents, 532 were committed against pupil support assistants, 43 against learning assistants and 10 involved behavioural assistants.

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The number of incidents last school year have fallen from the 1,006 reported in 2016/17 including 645 violent attacks resulting in injury. The number of times support staff were on the receiving end of threatening behaviour has also dropped from 75 to 41 in the space of a year.

Opposition councillors have called for more support to be provided to staff.

Green education spokesperson, Cllr Mary Campbell, said: “Any violence or aggression against staff is obviously a source of concern and the scale of what is reported is significant.

“From speaking to school staff it seems that often young people will have additional needs and we know that the number of support staff available has not kept pace with that. It needs sorted and schools also need to ensure staff have the best training to deal with issues, alongside cool-off spaces to avoid confrontations.”

Conservatives have called for the council to do more to ensure the safety of staff working in schools.

Cllr Callum Laidlaw, Conservative education spokesman, said: “Support staff are the unsung heroes of our schools, performing a vital role in delivering education to some of our most vulnerable and challenging young people.

“The significant number of attacks on these key workers is concerning and suggests that the council needs to put in place more robust safeguards.”

Teaching union, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), said it was crucial for a zero tolerance of violence in the classroom.

An EIS spokesperson said: “Every teacher and pupil has the right to a safe educational environment. The EIS is clear that a zero tolerance approach should be taken to incidents involving violence or the threat of violence.

“Teachers and support staff work extremely hard to ensure a positive and welcoming environment for pupils, and the vast majority of young people in our schools are positively engaged in their learning.”

The city council has introduced additional training in schools for staff.

A council spokesperson said: “We treat the safety of our school staff very seriously. It is unfortunate that physical forceful behaviour can occur and we aim to ensure staff have the skills and confidence to manage these situations to reduce risk of injury.”