The County You Live, Work And Play
Violent Incident Once A Day
"No teacher should have to take a bruise"
Classroom staff are victims of a violent incident on average at least once a day in South Lanarkshire’s schools, the latest figures suggest. Statistics published by South Lanarkshire Council reveal there were 53 violent physical incidents involving education workers at schools during February and March this year.
The figures in a report put before the council’s education resources committee on Tuesday detail violent incidents involving education department staff, such as teachers and classroom assistants.
The figures do not include any incidents involving janitors, dinner ladies or cleaners — who are employed by a different department.
Bill Ramsay, who is secretary of the South Lanarkshire branch of teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), says the violence levels are unacceptable and that no teacher should have to “take a bruise”.
“Our members are literally showing the signs”
He says the majority of children involved in such incidents are “vulnerable”, either due to additional support needs or because of stresses at home.
And he said the EIS have noticed increasing levels of violence in the classroom across the country, which they attribute to heightened stress levels in society caused by increased poverty, which are being passed on to children.
Bill said: “Any significant number of violent incidents is unacceptably high. A teacher taking a bruise is unacceptable.
“If people are struggling in any walk of life their stress levels are going to increase. Stress levels do not stop automatically at the classroom door.
“It has been widely reported that incidences of poverty are increasing and young people are living in families with poverty.
“An increase in poverty means higher stress. Violence is an outcome of stress.
“If you are a teacher, you are picking up the bruises as certain sections of society become more stressed.
“Our members are literally showing the signs.”
The incidents took place across eight schools and involved 21 pupils. Less than 50 per cent of pupils involved have additional support needs. However South Lanarkshire Council say some primary school children with additional support needs were involved in multiple violent incidents relating to their additional support needs. Violent physical incidents include verbal attacks of a serious or threatening nature. Less serious verbal attacks are recorded separately.
Lynn Sherry, head of education at South Lanarkshire Council, said: “Our statistics for February and March show that 53 incidents took place over eight schools, involving 21 pupils. Just under half of these pupils have additional support needs.
“We continue to encourage employees to report violent incidents so we can address the root cause and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our frontline staff.
“It is important to note that violent incidents recorded can range from abusive language toward staff to physical contact. In particular we are seeing improved reporting in primary schools and these figures reflect that.
“We monitor these monthly statistics and contact is made with every school where one of these reports is received in order that we can offer as much support as possible to pupils and staff. Where patterns or concerns emerge, more in-depth support can be offered.”
In response to increasing violence within schools, Bill says teachers are being encouraged to report incidents to police if they feel it is appropriate.
He said: “We decided it was appropriate for us to send advice to schools.
“We encourage our members that they should make sure they record the incident with their head teacher and if they judge suitable they should report it to the police as well.”
He added: “There have been cuts in local government funding for years and that’s inevitably going to have an impact on resources.
“In our view we need to properly resource schools to provide the support that’s needed.”