Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Friday, 22 January 2010

Pupil fight warning for teachers

Teachers have been warned not to intervene in playground fights

A teachers' union is planning to write to all of its members warning them not to intervene in playground fights.

The union said the "final straw" came when Glasgow City Council refused to let an injured teacher take time off to complete dental surgery.

The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association said staff would now be less inclined to break up disputes.

Glasgow council said it judged claims on their individual merits and advised staff to not put themselves at risk.

The SSTA's move comes six months after a 58-year-old teacher was accidentally punched in the mouth when she intervened between two children at a special school.

Her dental surgery has so far cost about £2,500.

'Final straw'

The union is sending advice to its 8,500 members across Scotland warning them to think carefully before stepping into similar situations.

Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the union, said: "Our original advice was for her to go through the normal procedure with the council.

Advice is given to staff to consider their own safety and not put themselves at risk or any danger in a particular situation
Glasgow City Council spokeswoman

"We were stunned when the response was to say it was not the council's responsibility. They said they hadn't been negligent.

"Our member never claimed the council had been negligent, we never said that."

She added that the SSTA was now considering legal action to support the teacher.

The union's advice will be issued to Glasgow teachers within a week, and to other union members in Scotland shortly after.

Ms Ballinger said: "We are advising teachers to be very careful. They have to be aware that the employer may not support them financially."

The council said safety was taken seriously and staff are advised not to put themselves at risk.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said: "All claims are judged on their individual merits.

'Professional duty'

"Advice is given to staff to consider their own safety and not put themselves at risk or any danger in a particular situation.

"We take the safety of our staff very seriously."

The Scottish Conservatives said the decision by Glasgow City Council had "worrying implications" for school discipline across Scotland.

The party's schools spokeswoman, Liz Smith MSP, said: "It will give no comfort to teachers and head teachers who, quite rightly, believe it is their professional duty to act firmly and fairly when it comes to addressing indiscipline.

"Parents will be alarmed by the fact that teachers might feel reluctant to intervene when a fight breaks out.

"We need radical measures to improve discipline in our schools, not pander to those who seek to cause trouble."

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