A school classroom with desks and chairs

A new report from the teachers’ union NASUWT has found that the overwhelmingly majority of teachers say verbal and physical abuse from pupils has increased significantly in the last 12 months.

37 per cent of respondents to a survey of over 6,5000 NASUWT members reported experiencing violence or physical abuse from pupils in the last year. Amongst the shocking reports from teachers, some said they have had furniture thrown at them, been bitten, spat at, headbutted, punched and kicked.

90 per cent of teachers said they had received verbal abuse, including being sworn at, threatened or targeted with racial or sexual insults. 89 per cent said the number of pupils exhibiting physically violent and abusive behaviours has increased in the last 12 months. 93 per cent said that the number of pupils verbally abusing staff members has increased in the last 12 months.

The impact of the experience of teachers has been significant, nearly one in five (18 per cent) reported needing time off work due to the stress, physical or mental health impact of violence and abuse from pupils. Meanwhile, 5 per cent said they are leaving teaching as a result of poor pupil behaviour and over half (53 per cent) said they are seriously considering leaving as a result of violence and abuse from pupils.

Nearly half (45 per cent) strongly agree or agree that they are made to feel to blame by their employer if they have an issue with poor pupil behaviour, while nearly three quarters cited poor socialisation skills following Covid restrictions as the greatest driving factor behind the rise.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said: “While concerns about pupil behaviour are not new, our research indicates an alarming increase in violent and defiant behaviour by some pupils. The lack of appropriate in-school support and long waiting lists to access specialist services are contributing to a behavior crisis which schools are struggling to contain.

“However, instead of giving better support to classroom teachers too many schools and colleges are placing responsibility for poor pupil behaviour at the door of teachers.  This culture of teacher blaming is becoming increasingly widespread, whilst bad employers are failing to take seriously their responsibilities for ensuring the health, safety and welfare of staff working in schools.

“A failure to tackle violence and abuse in schools today will have long-lasting consequences for teacher recruitment and retention and for the education of children and young people.

“The NASUWT will continue to take all steps possible to protect our members from violence and abuse at work. But, we need to see action from government to ensure all schools and colleges are safe and orderly environments for teachers to teach and for children and young people to learn.”

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