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Education correspondent Kenneth Macdonald
"More than half the incidents involved physical violence"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 16 February, 2000, 19:04 GMT
Classroom violence increase

violence graphic The statistics show an alarming increase

The number of incidents involving violence against teachers in Scotland's schools has more than doubled, according to latest figures.

A report for the Scottish Executive shows there were almost 1,900 attacks last year.

More than half involved physical violence, the rest were mostly verbal.

Officials said the increase was partly due to incomplete reporting previously, but this year's figures may still under-represent the true extent of the problem.

'No place' for violence

The total number of recorded incidents (autumn 1998-99) in secondary, primary and special education sectors was 1898.

That is more than double the previous total of 743 and represents 245 incidents per 100,000 pupils.

As much as 40% of incidents were recorded in primary schools, with the secondary and special sectors each accounting for 30%.

Sam Galbraith Sam Galbraith: Guidelines review
Scottish Education Minister Sam Galbraith said: "Violence and threatening behaviour against teachers has no place in our classrooms. Teachers should be able to work without fear of aggression or intimidation."

A number of initiatives were already under way to tackle the problem, said Mr Galbraith, who also announced a review of the guidelines for recording incidents of violence.

"Far more incidents have been reported this year than last year.

"We are not convinced, however, that reporting is yet consistent across the country and, to ensure that we tackle the problem effectively, we really must have an accurate indication of the scale of the problem," he added.

Accurate picture

The significant leap can partly be attributed to incomplete recording procedures previously.

For the year 1997-98, one in five schools either did not submit figures or they were too late for inclusion.

There was also confusion as to how to categorise certain incidents.

This year's report gives a much more accurate picture of the level of violence against teaching staff in Scotland.

bullies Violence amongst pupils is not included
Education authorities were asked to begin to monitor instances of violence in 1997 in response to teacher's concerns.

Violence is defined as being incidents of physical attack, verbal abuse or violence to personal property against school staff.

The figures do not show the extent of violence between pupils.

Although many local authorities do monitor violence among pupils, there are no plans to pull the figures together nationally.

The difficulty for education officials is balancing discipline with the commitment to educate.

They are working on areas like alternatives to exclusion, including reinforcing good behaviour.

Psychologists say that, unless good behaviour is rewarded, pupils do not realise they have an incentive to behave well.

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See also:
10 Feb 99 |  Education
Teachers face violence from pupils and parents
13 Oct 98 |  Education
Parents asked to help with school security

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