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Teachers head butted and strangled by violent pupils

SENCO tells how nine year old pupil tried to strangle her with scarf

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SENCO tells how nine year old pupil tried to strangle her with scarf

Teachers have been headbutted and strangled by violent pupils, and made to wear specialist tabards to protect themselves from spitting students, a union conference has been told. 

Delegates at the NASUWT conference in Birmingham said that pupil behaviour had got worse in the last couple of years, with children as young as four attacking teachers and other pupils. 

In a debate on violent pupils, Russ Walters, a member of the NASUWT executive, spoke about a friend in Bolton who had been hospitalised by a 14 year old student.

The friend - an assistant head teacher - had been walking down a corridor in his school when he saw the child misbehaving. "When he stopped to reprimand him, the child turned around and headbutted him," Mr Walters said. 

The assistant head was left with a "broken nose and quite a large amount of facial damage", which "put him in hospital for nearly a week".

It transpired that a risk assessment had been carried out on the child, indicating that he would respond violent to being reprimanded - but the assistant head had not been shown the document.

Mr Walters also spoke about a special school in Bolton, which had a "problem with students spitting at the teachers". To deal with the situation, the school had issued the teachers with tabards to protect themselves.

"I asked, why don't they put a bullseye in the middle of the tabards and go the whole hog?" Mr Walters said.

He said that violence was a more serious issue than in the past because of a "curriculum that actively disengages so many pupils from the learning" and because of "the lack of adequate behavioural policies agreed with unions".

The conference also heard from Kelly Watkins, a SENCO who works at a mainstream secondary in Shropshire, who said that poor behaviour in her school had "increased to an extremely violent level".

Ms Watkins said she was regularly called to deal with violent pupils, despite the fact that she is 18 weeks pregnant. 

Speaking to journalists afterwards, she said she had been "spat at, bitten and pinched" by students. 

On one occasion, a nine year old child tried to strangle her with the scarf she was wearing - an incident which Ms Watkins said had resulted in her changing what she wore at school.

She said children as young as four had "bitten, scratched, gouged eyes and pulled hair".

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Pupil behaviour is one of the top concerns that teachers raise about their job.

“Yet evidence shows that teachers are not receiving the support to tackle these issues. 

“Where a pupil is known to exhibit violent and disruptive behaviour, a risk assessment should be undertaken and action taken to support the pupil to address their behaviour and to protect other pupils and staff. 

“In too many cases no effective assessment is ever undertaken. Even if it is, all too often this is not always shared with all staff or is not passed on to receiving schools if the pupil is moved.

“Employers who fail to disclose safety information leave themselves vulnerable to legal challenge and industrial action, but more importantly they are behaving recklessly with the health and wellbeing of staff and other pupils and this simply cannot be justified.”


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