Page last updated at 20:05 GMT, Wednesday, 7 June 2006 21:05 UK

Figures reveal abuse at schools

School children viewed through a fence
The figures show more than 3,500 assaults and abuse cases

New figures obtained by the BBC show that in the past four years there have been more than 3,500 cases of assault and verbal abuse in Swindon schools.

In 2004 alone there were 1,289 incidents involving pupils and adults.

Phil Baker, who left his job at a Swindon school because of the level of violence, said: "On several occasions I've had to take knives off pupils."

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, cover Swindon's 54 primary and 10 secondary schools.

Mr Baker added: "One of the incidents I remember vividly was when a fight broke out between two pupils and I went behind them as we are trained to do to restrain, then one of them ducked and the other one punched me."

School violence
2002/03: 258 cases, including 89 pupil assaults and 35 adults assaulted
2003/04: 1196, including 371 pupils assaulted and 154 adults
2004/05: 1289, including 416 pupils attacked, 149 adults
2005-May 06: 845, including 354 pupils attack, 86 adults

In the 2002/03 school year there were 258 exclusions for physical assaults and verbal abuse.

During that year there were 89 cases of pupils being assaulted and 34 incidents involving adults being assaulted.

But in 2003 the total number of cases shot up to 1196, the majority were suspended for a fixed period of time, one was given detention and four were expelled.

The figures got worse in the 2004 school year with 1289 cases, including 411 incidents of physical assaults against pupils. There were also 143 cases of pupils assaulting adults.

The figures for the current school year, up to the end of May, show 845 cases, including 351 assaults against pupils and 84 against adults.

Verbal abuse accounted for 344 cases involving adults and 347 cases with pupils involved.

Steady increase

David Michel, secretary of the Bristol branch of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) said the figures for Swindon reflect a steady increase in incidents of verbal and physical abuse over 20 years.

"It isn't a loss of control - what it is for teachers is the sanctions are no longer there," he said.

"The moment there is an assault on a pupil or a teacher two things need to happen: one is permanent exclusion and the other is the police should be informed."

But Geoff Hogg, director of children's services for Swindon Borough Council, believes Mr Michel's demands go too far.

"Schools have a graduated response to different behaviour in children to meet the individual requirements of pupils," he said.

"If a pupil attacks a teacher or another pupil the school may decide to have a fixed term exclusion but we as a local authority have a range of measures available to support schools."

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