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Wednesday, February 10, 1999 Published at 15:48 GMT


Teachers face violence from pupils and parents

Unions say assaults on teachers and school staff are rising

A survey of violence against teachers in Scotland's schools has found an average of three incidents each day in term time.

BBC Scotland Education Correspondent Ken Macdonald reports on the survey
In response to the findings of the first government-backed inquiry into attacks on teachers in Scotland, the Education Minister, Helen Liddell, has promised action to protect school staff, including extra training in how to manage disruptive pupils.

The survey of local authority schools in Scotland found 743 incidents of violence against teachers in 1997-98, with the qualification that this figure is likely to be an underestimate because of under-reporting and incomplete returns from some schools.

These incidents, which include physical and verbal violence, were most likely to involve a pupil and to have taken place in the classroom in lesson time. But in around 12% of cases the aggressor was a parent.

Although half of all incidents in secondary school involved physical violence, only 15% of the total incidents were passed on to the police for further action.

[ image: Helen Liddell says that there is no place for violence in schools]
Helen Liddell says that there is no place for violence in schools
The recording of incidents has not been broken down by local authority or by specific cases, in order to protect the confidentiality of the survey, but it is intended that the information can be used as firm evidence for future efforts to reduce levels of violence.

Teachers' unions have complained for years that violence against their members - and other school staff - is growing. Now the government survey provides a clearer picture of the extent of the problem.

Although there had been much anecdotal evidence about rising levels of violence against teachers, there has until now been little statistical information to support the claims.

"Violence and threatening behaviour has no place in a school. Teachers and other school staff must not be subjected to abuse, whether it is verbal, physical or through damage to their personal property," said Helen Liddell.

"I am announcing today that we are funding the development of a new training package for staff in managing difficult and disruptive behaviour in the classroom."

The minister also pointed to funds available to help teachers learn about personal safety and a scheme to help schools develop alternative strategies in handling problem pupils.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment said there were no plans to collect figures on violence against teachers in England's schools.

But he added that one of the government's priorities was improving behaviour and discipline in the classroom.

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