Serious violence is having a devastating impact on children and young people’s safety, wellbeing and future life chances, the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has told TUC Congress.

The Union has told Congress in Brighton that the Government is failing to respond appropriately to preventing and addressing serious violence involving children and young people. The NASUWT also recognised the work of teachers and headteachers who every day seek to ensure schools are safe sanctuaries for all children and young people.

The NASUWT has called on the TUC to press the Government to support schools and colleges in dealing with violence and disruption, underpinned by a commitment to substantially increase the levels of investment in welfare and support services for children, young people and families.

The NASUWT also wants to see an end to the culture of blaming teachers for pupil indiscipline.  

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, moving the motion, said:

“No one should go to work with the expectation that they will be verbally or physically abused. 

“Across the UK, teachers increasingly are reporting pupil indiscipline as one of the top concerns about their job. In the most recent evidence, 82% of teachers believe there is a widespread problem across schools with pupil indiscipline.

“Many teachers experience stress, anxiety, depression, loss of confidence and other adverse effects on their mental health, and in too many cases physical injury occurs.

“Children and young people are suffering the consequences of flawed social, economic and education policies and teachers and support staff left to pick up the pieces.

“Whilst this might explain some of the issues contributing to pupil indiscipline, it does not excuse the behaviour.

“Nor does it make acceptable the practices prevalent in too many schools that place sole responsibility for poor pupil behaviour on teachers.  The culture of teacher blaming has become increasingly widespread, with employers failing to accept their responsibilities to promoting good order.

“Maintaining an orderly behaviour environment in schools is central not only to the safety, health and wellbeing of all pupils and staff but also is critical in ensuring that teachers can teach and pupils can learn.

“Where employers fail to act, trade unions must commit to do so.”

Pupil behaviour and mental health

Motion 59 and amendment, and 60

Congress is alarmed at the reports that serious violence involving children and young people is a significant and growing problem within schools and on our streets and notes the increasing concerns being reported about youth violence, knife crime and the behaviour and mental health of children and young people. 

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Congress deplores the decimation of services under austerity, pushing families and communities to breaking point, and seeks concerted government action to address the causes of disaffection and violence. 

Congress deplores the government’s failure to respond appropriately to preventing and addressing serious violence involving children and young people and notes with concern the devastating impact of serious violence, including knife crime, on children and young people’s safety, wellbeing and future life chances. 

Congress applauds the commitment and efforts of public sector workers who are dedicated to working with children and young people suffering under austerity policies, deeply regretting the violence they may face and further applauds the work of teachers and headteachers who, every day, seek to ensure that schools are safe sanctuaries for all children and young people. 

Congress rejects the expectation that teachers and other public service workers should accept violence as part of the job and applauds the efforts of unions in taking industrial action to protect their members from pupil violence and abuse. 

Congress welcomes DfE making £10m available for a network to help schools to manage their children’s behaviour, however, there are concerns about how this money will be used given a recent report from the BBC. It sent FOIs to 1,000 secondary schools and academies last year and received 600 responses. Two hundred of those responding had set up isolation units and they reported that 225 CYP had spent a whole week in isolation booths as a single punishment. 

Being kept apart from other children and young people for the whole of the school day means that children are not able to participate in the usual school life. Many of the children and young people whose behaviour leads to them being socially isolated from other children are those who do not communicate easily with others, eg those with autism and are particularly vulnerable to the deleterious effects of isolation that infringe the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

Congress calls on the government to: 

  1. Support schools and colleges in dealing with violence and disruption 
  2. Commit substantially to increase the levels of investment in specialist education provision, welfare and support services for children, young people and families 
  3. Reverse the effects of austerity policies 
  4. End the culture of blaming teachers for pupil behaviour 
  5. Ensure that additional monies will be used to support schools to develop effective whole-school policies that foster positive relationships between all members of their communities 
  6. Give a guarantee none of the £10m will be spent on setting up isolation units. 

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