Budget cuts, rising class sizes and the cutting of specialist support services are leading to increases in physical and verbal abuse against staff, representatives of the NASUWT - The Teachers’ Union, will hear today.
The Union’s Annual Conference in Belfast will debate a motion which highlights the that more than one in ten (13%) NASUWT members have been assaulted at work.
The debate follows recent revelations that the number of suspensions for assaults on school staff trebled between 2014/15 and 2015/16.
In the last academic year NASUWT members in three schools in Northern Ireland have voted overwhelmingly in a ballot to refuse to teach violent pupils who had attacked teachers.
The motion says the levels of assaults on teachers “can be attributed directly to budget cuts, redundancies, rising class sizes and fewer resources for specialist support.”
It calls on employers to fulfil their statutory obligations to maintain a safe environment for all staff.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“The NASUWT is being inundated with teachers that are reporting assaults happening to them on a daily basis.
“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 and send a strong message to parents, pupils and the community that violence against school staff is completely unacceptable.”
NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland Justin McCamphill said:
“In too many schools discipline is breaking down and teachers are bearing the brunt of this.
“But 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.
“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).
“Employers and managers must fulfil their statutory obligations to maintain a safe working environment for all staff.”