‘The abuse teachers are expected to put up with is simply obscene’

Tes reports that teachers have warned that violence and verbal abuse are on the increase in schools – and they blame the national inclusion policy.

Teaching is a caring, altruistic profession, and to be on the end of verbal abuse from someone you are trying to help can be hugely disheartening, not to mention stressful or even frightening.

And, according to many of the 1,079 teachers who responded to a survey by the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, these sort of incidents are on the rise. Many feel that aggressive swearing is now commonplace in school, with few if any sanctions applied when it happens.

One teacher summed up a widespread view about pupils’ behaviour in school: “I feel as though you are expected to be threatened in my council and you are expected to accept it. Even on a bus a sign says, ‘Any assault against our staff will be followed by legal proceedings.’ Teaching is the only job where any form of assault is not followed through.”

Of course, now more than ever, schools are aware of the underlying issues that may be driving violent or abusive behaviour. A few years ago, at an EIS teaching union event on child poverty, a children’s charity boss recalled an incident in which a boy, after receiving a dressing down for not having his PE kit, exploded and told the teacher to **** off. Later, the backstory emerged: the boy’s alcoholic father had come in late the previous night and eaten the boy’s dinner – a tin of tomato soup, the only food in the cupboard.

The fact that schools and education authorities now take the troubles behind the behaviour much more into account is a sign of progress. However, many respondents in the survey often felt that they did not get enough support when faced with violence from pupils; some even suggested that the reporting processes were deliberately complex and time-consuming, to discourage staff from using them.

When teachers are faced with violence from pupils who are struggling at school, it is not good enough for them to be told they must put up with it “because, inclusion”. Often this challenging behaviour is a sign that pupils are floundering because the right support is not there. That’s not inclusion – and it’s not fair on them, their peers or teachers.

Read the full article ‘The abuse teachers are expected to put up with is simply obscene’

Please tell us your thoughts and in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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