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Teachers speak out over rising pupil violence | #schoolsaftey


Teachers in Aberdeen have told BBC News they are traumatised, fear for their safety and are scared to go to to work because of escalating pupil violence.

One teacher said she had recurring nightmares after being attacked, with another describing her school as “completely lawless”.

The EIS union is calling for urgent intervention by Aberdeen City Council.

The council said it was trying to support staff while also addressing underlying causes of misbehaviour.

An EIS survey of nearly 800 members in the city found almost half reported violent pupil behaviour in school every day, and more than a third said they had been physically assaulted.

Three teachers agreed to speak to BBC Scotland News anonymously about their experience.

An additional support needs teacher said one incident had left her with concussion, while on another occasion she was pushed and fell backwards.

“Even when I’m in my bed, I’ll be thinking about what happened, or what might happen tomorrow,” she said.

“I’m still having nightmares after an incident – and that’s an ongoing thing. It takes over your life.”

‘Scared in my workplace’

A secondary school teacher said the situation at her school was the worst she had seen in her 20-year career.

“There are pupils that just refuse point blank to do what you’re asking,” she said.

“They’ll swear at you, often they will square up to you.”

She believes it is only a “matter of time” before something even worse happens.

“I wonder – do they have a weapon? Are they going to just kick out and assault me,” she said.

“For the first time in my career, I’m scared in my workplace.”

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Violence appears to have increased both between pupils and towards staff in Scottish schools

The teacher said she was aware of probationer teachers leaving the profession almost immediately.

“Straight away they’re getting this idea that there’s no control, it’s completely lawless,” she said.

A primary school teacher said she had to evacuate her classroom “several times in one week” because of pupils’ behaviour.

“They might topple furniture, desks, chairs,” she said.

“I’ve had books thrown at me off bookshelves, other items in the classroom.”

She said she was aware of other primary school teachers who had been taken to hospital, with some suffering “life-changing incidents”.

In the EIS Aberdeen survey, 42% of teachers reported violent behaviour taking place in their schools once a day.

More than a third (37%) said they had been physically assaulted by a pupil, and more than half felt their school did not have clear strategies in place to prevent violence.

The union also claimed incidents were being under reported, and that the use of school exclusions was “frowned upon” by the local authority.

Image caption,

EIS representative Ron Constable says more action is needed to support teachers

Ron Constable, joint secretary of the Aberdeen EIS branch, said: “Whatever has been put in place by Aberdeen City Council is simply not working. That’s reflected in the members comments, the statistics, and the escalating violence we’re seeing.

He added: “I would say that there is drastic under reporting of violent and abusive incidents in schools in Aberdeen city.

“SLT (senior learning teams) are under considerable pressure in terms of avoiding excluding pupils.

“Several comments from head teachers have said they would like to exclude but that it is frowned upon by Aberdeen City Council.”

Mr Constable warned of “collective grievances” being presented if the problems were not taken seriously.

Two years ago, teachers at the city’s Northfield Academy voted in favour of industrial action over pupil violence against staff, although this was averted after meetings with the council.

Support for staff

The council’s education convener Martin Greig said any “misbehaviour” in schools was unacceptable and that the authority would consider all feedback from staff.

“Everyone who visits and uses a school environment is entitled to expect that place to be a safe, peaceful, respectful environment,” he said.

“So any complaints that come through need to be addressed, in the interests, especially of the young people, but also of staff, families, anyone who is involved in the life of a school.”

He said he would be worried if teachers were being discouraged from reporting incidents but insisted the council was doing what it could to support staff.

“Behaviour in schools is monitored, there are policies and procedures to make sure staff are as safe as possible,” he added.

“There’s always more that you can do, and we are absolutely keen to do whatever is necessary to ensure that environment feels safe for all – for staff, for parents and carers and especially for the young people.”



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