The NASUWT teaching union polled almost 8,500 teachers last month
More than one in 10 teachers have been physically assaulted by a pupil in the last year, a survey suggests.
Nearly half (48%) of teachers surveyed said they do not feel that their school’s behaviour policy is effective and “fit for purpose”, according to a poll by the NASUWT teaching union.
The survey, of 8,466 NASUWT members in the UK in March, suggests that 13% of teachers have been physical assaulted by a pupil in the last year.
More than one in four (28%) teachers said they have been subjected to verbal abuse by a parent or carer during the last year, the poll found.
Teachers reported to the union that they had been kicked at, bitten, punched and slapped by pupils, while NASUWT members also said parents had screamed and shouted at them.
The findings have been released during the union’s annual conference in Glasgow over the Easter weekend.
Delegates at the NASUWT conference are due to debate a motion on Sunday which suggests that assaults are seen as “a normal part of teaching” in too many schools.
Teachers have been subjected to pushing/shoving (22%), threats of physical assault (19%) and verbal abuse (58%) by pupils during the last year, according to the survey.
A teacher who responded to the survey said: “I regularly had a child that would throw chairs at me, threaten to kill me and my family. Say he was going to stab me.”
Another said: “I was upskirted. I have had an unknown substance sprayed in my face. I have been verbally abused and shoved several times.”
Another respondent said: “I’ve been spat at, swore at, pushed, punched, kicked. I’ve been called a hole for the lads to shove their dicks in. I’ve had two Year 11 boys trap me in my room and threaten to go through my things.”
Among the teachers who said they had experienced abuse from a parent or pupil, more than one in three (36%) said they did not feel their school dealt with the issue satisfactorily.
The motion, which delegates will vote on, says the union is worried that employers are “failing” in their duties to protect teachers by either not completing risk assessments or seeing them as a paper exercise.
It adds that the union is concerned that many school leaders are “not given sufficient guidance in the completion of risk assessments for violent pupils”.
Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “No teacher should have to go to work expecting to suffer from physical or verbal abuse by pupils.
“Employers have a statutory duty to carry out effective risk assessments – they cannot simply choose to ignore or underestimate the dangers of violent pupils.
“Where employers do fail to protect our members from aggression and violence, we will take them on and act to support and protect our members by any means necessary.”
A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “No teacher should feel unsafe or face violence in the workplace and we are taking action to improve pupils’ behaviour to ensure every school has a safe and respectable environment.
“Our ongoing £10 million Behaviour Hubs programme aims to support up to 700 schools between 2021 and 2024 in improving their behaviour by partnering them with selected exemplary lead schools and multi academy trusts.
“Our updated Behaviour in Schools guidance provides advice on creating whole-school cultures which explicitly sets out what good behaviour looks like. This is so pupils can understand and uphold high expectations of behaviour, which in turn establishes calm and safe environments.”
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