From education to employment

Physical violence against teachers is a weekly occurrence

Nearly a quarter of teachers (24%) are experiencing physical violence from pupils at least once a week or more, a survey by the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, has found. 4% stated they are attacked on a daily basis.

The survey of almost 5,000 teachers found that nearly nine in ten (89%) have suffered physical or verbal abuse from pupils over the last 12 months. 86% of teachers have been sworn at, while more than four in ten (42%) have been verbally threatened.

Nearly a third (29%) of teachers have been hit, punched or kicked, and 39% have been shoved or barged. 7% have been spat at, and 3% have been head-butted. Over a quarter (27%) report having had their property damaged.

Nearly half (46%) experienced anxiety, depression or stress, and more than eight in ten (81%) say the abuse from pupils has affected their morale and enthusiasm for their job.

Three-quarters of teachers (75%) do not feel they have the resources or support to meet the behavioural needs of all the pupils they teach.

The physical and verbal abuse from pupils has driven over half (52%) of teachers to seriously consider leaving the profession or they are planning to leave teaching shortly.

More than half (52%) of teachers report being made to feel that they are to blame by their school for issues regarding poor pupil behaviour, while 49% say the culture in their school is that verbal and physical abuse is part of the job and teachers should expect this behaviour.

Only half of teachers (57%) reported all of the incidents of abuse to their managers, with 41% reporting some or most of the incidents. When asked for the reasons behind not reporting all of the occurrences, two-thirds (66%) felt nothing would be done.

Less than a fifth of teachers (15%) feel that when incidents were reported, the pupil or pupils were dealt with appropriately. 6% state that no action was taken by the school to tackle the perpetrators.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“No teacher should ever have to go to work with the expectation of being verbally or physically abused, but it is clear from this survey that for too many teachers this is the day-to-day reality.

“Pupil indiscipline is now second only to workload in teachers’ concern about their job and is a contributory factor to the teacher recruitment and retention crisis.

“It is simply unacceptable that employers are failing in their legal duty of care to provide a safe working environment.

“Why is it that hospitals, job centres, railway stations and many other workplaces are now littered with posters in which employers make clear that abuse of staff will not be tolerated and yet the most teachers get is fault finding and blame. 

“The school system is riven with poor and unacceptable employment practices that are putting teachers at risk and ultimately driving them out of the profession. 

“Teachers provide one of the most important public services and they deserve better.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

“Teachers and school staff have a right to be safe while doing their jobs and any form of misconduct, particularly violence towards them, is completely unacceptable.

“The majority of schools provide a safe environment for pupils and teaching staff, and it’s important that they remain as such.

“We are committed to tackling bad behaviour in schools have made great strides in empowering teachers to tackle this issue and have recently announced a £10 million investment to support schools to share best practice in behaviour management.

“The school behaviour policy should set out how poor behaviour, including incidents of violence, is dealt with. While the department expects schools to take immediate and robust action if incidents of violence occur, any decision on how to punish the pupil involved is a matter for the school.

“We have a range of guidance, including advice on health and safety, school security and target advice on gangs and youth violence to support schools to make sure teachers and pupil are safe.”

Related Articles