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ATL Survey Highlights Pupil Violence Concerns

  • ATL Survey Highlights Pupil Violence Concerns

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has published the results of a survey into the level of violence directed at teachers by pupils.

The survey was carried out in autumn 2015 among 1250 education staff employed in state schools. 43% of respondents reported having to deal with at least one instance of physical violence from a pupil within the past year. Of those, 77% reported having been pushed, 52% kicked, 50% confronted with pupils throwing furniture at them and 37% being punched.

68% of all respondents meanwhile reported having dealt with various forms of physical aggression – including not just kicks and punches, but also spitting, scratching and stabbing – at some point over the course of their career.

Stress and anxiety

The survey also asked education staff about their experience of challenging behaviour in a wider sense. 89% of the staff surveyed stated having dealt with challenging or disruptive pupils within the past year; just over half (50.8%) said that doing so had caused them stress, and 41% that it had caused them anxiety.

The results also hint at the implications of such figures. As a direct result of dealing with challenging behaviour, 10% of respondents said they had to visit their doctor, 26% had considered changing schools and 35% had considered leaving the profession altogether. 45% of all respondents felt that pupil behaviour had become worse over the past two years.

Commenting on the results, ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said, “Many schools do excellent work day in, day out, to help pupils stay on track and to keep schools a safe place for pupils and staff. But schools need support from social and health services and parents to deal with the complex issues many pupils face due to chaotic home lives or mental health issues.

“Schools need firm and consistent discipline policies in place and support from parents to ensure they support pupils the best they can.”

Earlier this week, The Mirror reported that schoolteachers received nearly £400,000 in compensation payouts in 2015, after being physically injured by violent students and pupils.

Stabbings, sprayings, stones

Some examples of the pupil aggression cited anonymously by the survey’s respondents:

“A pupil, who was destructive when upset and turned over tables and chairs and shouted at other children, showed signs of similar behaviour. To ensure their safety, I asked all the children to move away and he shouted out, kicked his chair over and stomped out of the room. By calmly talking to the pupil outside the classroom the situation was defused.”
– Supply teacher, Warwickshire

“Pencil stabbed in my head.”
– Primary SEN staff member, Bedfordshire

“Sprayed in the face with deodorant”
– Secondary academy teacher, Suffolk

“Stones thrown at my house.”
– Academy teacher, Yorkshire

“I was injured as a result of silly behaviour by a student and I suffered a dislocated finger.”
– Member of secondary academy support staff, Staffordshire

For more information, visit www.atl.org.uk or follow @atlunion

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