Page last updated at 09:04 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 10:04 UK

Teachers get self-defence courses

Book on desk
A call has been made for political agreement over education

Teachers in Northern Ireland are taking classes in self-defence because of the threat of violence from pupils and parents, a trade union has said.

It comes as the NI Education minister sets up a working group on violence.

Every teacher is to be asked for their experiences of aggression and disruptive behaviour in schools.

Mark Langhammer, NI director of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers was speaking as his union published a UK wide report on violence at work.

The report says around a quarter of staff in the UK have faced violence at work.

Mr Langhammer said there was "no doubt the classroom has become a more fraught environment".

"It is demonstrating itself in terms of teacher wellbeing, stress, absences from work and so on," he added.

"We have had five industrial actions in the last five years - all five of these been related to teaching a pupil who has been violent in some respect or other.

"Likewise our most demanded course is physical restraint - a course on effectively self-defence."

In a separate development, the union has called for political agreement in Northern Ireland over education.

It has launched a manifesto that says the running of local education is too fragmented.

Mr Langhammer said the union was making a call for more "common ground in the system".

"We have a very contested education system and it should not be as contested as it is," he said.



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