Page last updated at 00:06 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 01:06 UK

Teachers report widespread abuse

Pupils on way to school
A quarter of those surveyed said they had been attacked

Four in 10 teachers have faced verbal or physical aggression from a pupil's parent or guardian, according to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

And of the 1,000 teachers surveyed, a quarter said a pupil had attacked them.

Over a third of teachers in primary schools said they had experienced physical aggression, compared with 20% in secondary schools.

The government says teachers have sufficient means at their disposal to punish disruptive pupils.

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Almost 60% of those questioned for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' survey thought pupil behaviour had worsened during the past five years.

The survey questioned over 1,000 teachers from primary and secondary schools.

The responses appear to suggest that bad behaviour is not the preserve of secondary schools.

'Off sick'

One teacher at a primary school in England said: "A six-year-old completely trashed the staff room, put a knife through a computer screen, attacked staff and we had to call the police.

"Another six-year-old attacked staff and pupils with the teacher's scissors."

People often underestimate that young children can be as violent and intimidating as the older ones
Primary school teacher

Another teacher said: "I and other members of staff were physically assaulted daily by a five-year-old (including head-butting, punching).

"He was taken to the head to 'calm down' then brought back to apologise.

"It became a vicious circle. I was off sick as a result.

"People often underestimate that young children can be as violent and intimidating as the older ones."

Around one third of teachers surveyed said that they had lost confidence as a result of the behaviour they had faced.

But most teachers (90%) reported that "disruptive behaviour" constituted talking in class.

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Teacher on classroom violence

"Persistent low-level rudeness and disruption seems to have become a fact of life in education today and no longer raises eyebrows or seems to merit special attention," said Dr Ian Lancaster, a secondary school teacher from Cheshire.

Teachers will discuss the problem at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' conference next week.

Last year it emerged that more than 300 pupils a day were being temporarily, rather than permanently, excluded for violent conduct.

A similar survey by ATL two years ago suggested half of teachers knew another who had been driven out of the profession by violent conduct.

ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said it was "shocking that over a third of teaching staff have experienced aggression from students' parents or guardians".

"ATL firmly believes no member of staff should be subjected to violent behaviour by either students or parents.

"Parents should be acting as good role models by supporting staff and helping them create a more positive learning environment for their children."

The government said it was right that head teachers were using short, sharp shocks as a punishment.



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