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North East teachers experience pupil violence, union claims

Teachers are experiencing violence. Credit: PA Images

Almost a third of teachers in the North East are experiencing physical violence from pupils at least once a week, according to a new report.

A survey by the NASUWT-The Teachers' Union, also found that seven per cent stated they are attacked on a daily basis.

The Government has said it is committed to helping teachers tackle these issues.

The survey also states more than eight in ten (93 per cent) have suffered physical or verbal abuse from pupils over the last 12 months. In addition 90 per cent of teachers have been sworn at, while more than half (53 per cent) have been verbally threatened.

A third (32 per cent) of teachers have been hit, punched or kicked, and 45 per cent have been shoved or barged. 10 per cent have been spat at, and three per cent have been head-butted. More than a third (35 per cent) report having had their property damaged.

Nearly half (49 per cent) experienced anxiety, depression or stress, and over eight in ten (85 per cent) say the abuse from pupils has affected their morale and enthusiasm for their job.

More than three-quarters of teachers (79 per cent) do not feel they have the resources or support to meet the behavioural needs of all the pupils they teach.

The physical and verbal abuse from pupils has driven more than half (54 per cent) of teachers to seriously consider leaving the profession or they are planning to leave teaching shortly.

More than half (55 per cent) of teachers report being made to feel that they are to blame by their school for issues regarding poor pupil behaviour, while 51 per cent say the culture in their school is that verbal and physical abuse is part of the job and teachers should expect this behaviour.

Only six in 10 teachers (63 per cent) reported all of the incidents of abuse to their managers, with 34 per cent reporting some or most of the incidents. When asked for the reasons behind not reporting all of the occurrences, two-thirds (66 per cent) felt nothing would be done.

Less than a fifth of teachers (12 per cent) feel that when incidents were reported, the pupil or pupils were dealt with appropriately. Six per cent state that no action was taken by the school to tackle the perpetrators.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said:

No teacher should ever have to go to work with the expectation of being verbally or physically abused, but it is clear from this survey that for too many teachers this is the day-to-day reality.

Pupil indiscipline is now second only to workload in teachers' concern about their job and is a contributory factor to the teacher recruitment and retention crisis. It is simply unacceptable that employers are failing in their legal duty of care to provide a safe working environment.

Why is it that hospitals, job centres, railway stations and many other workplaces are now littered with posters in which employers make clear that abuse of staff will not be tolerated and yet the most teachers get is fault finding and blame.

The school system is riven with poor and unacceptable employment practices that are putting teachers at risk and ultimately driving them out of the profession.

Teachers provide one of the most important public services and they deserve better.

– Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Teachers and school staff have a right to be safe while doing their jobs and any form of misconduct, particularly violence towards them, is completely unacceptable.

The majority of schools provide a safe environment for pupils and teaching staff, and it's important that they remain as such.

We are committed to tackling bad behaviour in schools have made great strides in empowering teachers to tackle this issue and have recently announced a £10 million investment to support schools to share best practice in behaviour management.

– Department for Eduction