According to a recent survey 4 out of 10 teachers have experienced violence from pupils in the past year. Of the 1,250 staff surveyed by the ATL, 77% claimed that they have been pushed, shoved, kicked or even had objects thrown at them. The Government claims that to combat this teachers have been given greater powers and are now able to search pupils to help reduce the threat of violence in schools.
45% of the panel of teachers surveyed across England, Wales and Northern Ireland believe that generally pupil behaviour is deteriorating and has got drastically worse over the past two years with 9 out of 10 teachers claimed to have dealt with challenging behaviour such as swearing or shouting. One special needs worker at a school in Bedfordshire claimed that she was stabbed in the head with a pencil, while another teacher at a Suffolk secondary academy said she was sprayed in the face with deodorant.
In the survey, teachers claimed that there were a number of reasons why violence occurs within schools. A lack of boundaries at home was singled out as the main reason for challenging, disruptive or violent behaviour. 78% pointed to emotional and behavioural problems as the cause, while nearly half said it was down to pupils’ mental health issues.
General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Dr Mary Boustead believes that dealing and coping with challenging and disruptive behaviour is nowadays unfortunately part of the job for education staff however this violence in the classroom should not be tolerated. “It’s shocking that 43% of education professionals last year had to deal with physical violence from their pupils and no member of staff should be subjected to violence, of any form, while in the workplace”.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said “Teachers and staff have the right to feel safe while doing their jobs and violence towards them is totally unacceptable.” The Department for Education claim to have taken decisive action to put teachers back in charge of the classroom by giving them the powers they need to tackle poor behaviour and discipline. The ‘no touch’ rules that stopped teachers removing disruptive pupils from classrooms have been scrapped and decisions on exclusions from schools can no longer be overruled.
But is this enough to stop violence in the classroom? And if so what can be done to solve this issue? With almost half the teachers surveyed claiming violence occurs in their classroom, is this something the school is responsible for? Or should parents of the children responsible be held accountable? What do you think? Have your say…