23rd April 2010 at 01:00
The problem: A nine-year-old pupil recently hit me in anger. She walked up behind me, slapped my arm and walked off. I sent her to the head, but she hasn't been punished. This is not the first time she has misbehaved. I feel the head doesn't believe my story


"Your head seems to have a serious spinal condition - the absence of one. Make sure you inform them in writing that you are not satisfied with the outcome of their investigation."


"Inform your union in writing. It is an assault ... and it needs to be recorded as a statistic, but if anything develops from it you have a record of the incident lodged with a third party."


"Of course her (the pupil's) needs are important, but she needs to learn that hitting people is very serious. She needs to understand how to deal with adults with respect and she needs to apologise. Incidentally, it sounds like your head needs a few things, too."

Tom Bennett


Teachers need to be confident that senior management will apply behaviour policies and take account of the circumstances in cases of this type, just as pupils need to be clear about what behaviour is expected and the sanctions in place if they misbehave.

Your school's behaviour policy should promote a positive ethos and set out pupils' obligations to show respect for teachers and other pupils through their behaviour and language. The policy should also set out your school's strategies to tackle behaviour that disrupts or impacts on learning.

It should include a statement about how incidents of violent behaviour must be reported and what steps should be taken. In this case, it could be that the behaviour policy needs reviewing, or the headteacher has chosen not to apply a sanction, or has merely admonished the child on a one-to-one basis. You should put your concerns to your head in writing, requesting that in future they apply the appropriate sanction for this type of behaviour.

Unacceptable pupil behaviour that is not tackled can develop into a health and safety problem for all staff. There is a legal duty on employers to carry out risk assessments to protect the safety of employees. All employers must maintain an accident book and the Health and Safety Executive provides guidance on how accidents should be recorded and reported.

If you are concerned that this incident has not been properly recorded and reported, or you are not satisfied with your head's response you should ask your union representative to take up the issue on behalf of all staff to ensure that your school's behaviour policy is well thought out, clear and implemented.

Amanda Brown is assistant secretary for employment conditions and rights at the NUT



- Put your concerns to your headteacher in writing.

- Ask your union representative to take up the issue if you are not happy with the response.

- Seek advice on whether you have a claim for compensation.


- Allow it to go unresolved - the child will not learn that hitting people is wrong.

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