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Friday, 5 May, 2000, 08:21 GMT 09:21 UK
School violence protection call
Survey results graphic
More than 2,000 teachers took part in the survey
Scotland's second biggest teaching union has unanimously called for more protection for teachers.

Delegates at the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association annual conference in Aviemore also approved a motion demanding more resources to deal with problem pupils.

Union leaders claimed the government's social inclusion policies were making things worse although they stressed they did not oppose them in principle.

Delegates at the conference were given details of a survey which indicates indiscipline and violence are on the rise in Scottish schools.

Lab scene
Classroom discipline can also be a problem
A poll of SSTA members suggested more than 70% thought indiscipline had increased greatly over the last five years.

It followed in the wake of a report by the Scottish Executive which showed there were 1,900 attacks in schools last year.

Almost half of the 2,000 teachers polled thought indiscipline was a very or extremely significant problem - and 70% said it had risen greatly in the last five years.

While almost 50% blamed changing pupil attitudes for the increase, nearly 20% pointed the finger at anti-exclusion policies. Just one in 10 blamed parents.

The union's general secretary, David Eaglesham, said the survey reflected the concern teachers had about the extent to which the problem of violence had increased.

Arbitrary reduction

He added that they were anxious to have something done about it before the situation deteriorated further.

"We're sometimes accused of being complacent. On this occasion we're not. Teachers are saying there is a problem that has to be addressed," said Mr Eaglesham.

With reference to the government target of reducing school exclusions by 30% over the coming years, he said: "We believe this arbitrary reduction is a nonsense.

"There is no rationality behind it and it needs to be re-examined quickly."

However, he reiterated that the principal reason for the increase in violence was a change in pupils' attitudes.

Call for resources

He said: "We need a long-term strategy to make pupils realise the importance society places on education."

The Scottish Executive report said more than half of the incidents involved physical violence and the rest were verbal attacks.

Ministers promised action to tackle the problem but said they also wanted to reduce the number of exclusions and improve attendance.

They said violence would have no place in the classroom and a number of initiatives were already under way to control disruptive behaviour.

However, SSTA delegates attending their annual conference in Aviemore were expected to warn that tackling the problem would require more resources.

In his address, the union's president, Bill Fitzpatrick, was preparing to accuse some councils of failing to protect teachers.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Ken Macdonald, education correspondent
"Almost half of the teachers thought indiscipline was a significant problem"
David Eaglesham, SSTA general secretary
"Teachers are saying there is a problem that has to be addressed"
Penny Macmillan reports
"The executive says exclusion is not the answer"
See also:

13 Oct 98 | UK Education
16 Feb 00 | Scotland
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