Teachers have shared their experiences of violence at work after a new survey by unions revealed that almost a third of nursery staff and education support assistants feel unsafe in their jobs.
‘Four-year-old said he’d kick me in the f*****g face’
“I have been scratched in the face and was bleeding by a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and sworn at – ‘I’m going to f***ing kick you in the face’ - by a four-year-old.
“Children with ASD regularly hit and kick staff or scratch them.
“Mainly the violence we experience in my nursery school, in an area of high SIMD 1&2 [on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation], is from children with ASD. It is often unpredictable and no amount of training would prevent it.
“I once spent an hour working one-to-one with a child, shadowing them to prevent them hitting other children.
“They managed to hit other people and myself 12 times in an hour, despite me being beside them the whole time.”
‘P1 pupil leaves trail of destruction’
“I have not directly been involved in violent incidents – I work part-time and provide NCCT [non-class contact time] cover.
“I have witnessed one Primary 1 child on several occasions this year who bashes into other pupils, drops trays of toys, knocks over chairs, throw bricks, throws sand and leaves a trail of destruction around the classroom, putting the other pupils at risk.
“On several occasions all of the other pupils have had to be moved to one corner of the classroom or be evacuated out of the room.
“Other staff and pupils have been hit by objects they have thrown.
“A full-time PSA [pupil support assistant] is in place to support the child, but this does not prevent the incidents happening.”
‘I was sick at the thought of going to work’
I have been physically sick at the thought of going to work and ill due to stress.
“Some incidents have included being called names such as fat and ugly; had things pretend-thrown at me to watch my reaction; scissors snipped in my face; scissors thrown at me; other objects thrown at me; displays and children’s work destroyed; evacuated the classroom on several occasions for children’s safety; had to jump in-between children to prevent other children being hurt; been unable to evacuate a classroom as the only exit has been blocked by child being violent. A pupil support assistant in class has been bitten; children have threatened to kill me and told other members of staff they wish to do this; chairs thrown in the classroom; been hit in the private area. The majority of these incidents I have been the only adult and needed to send for help.”