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Commenting on statistics from the Department of Education which show a trebling of pupil suspensions for assaults on education staff, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union said: “These figures are deeply shocking but regretably not all that suprising as it reflects what our members are reporting to us, that they are being assaulted and threatened with violence by pupils, many still in primary school.

“No teacher or other worker should go to work with an expectation that they should tolerate violence and abuse.

“Where violence occurs, employers should adopt a zero tolerance approach. In schools this would send a strong message to parents, pupils and the community that such behaviour has no place in schools.”

NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland Justin McCamphill said: “The NASUWT is being uinundated with teachers are reporting assaults that are happening to them on a daily basis.

“Any discussion of violent and disruptive behaviour in schools has to be put in the context of the budget cuts that are happening in Northern Ireland which is a significant contributing factor.

“Schools are losing the specialist support that they did have to work with vulnerable younger people, class sizes are getting bigger and there are not enough resources being put into supporting pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Many young people who should have dedicated support to help them in the classroom have seen that support  withdrawn.

“Schools should be havens of peace but in too many discipline is breaking down.”

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