Hero teachers risk assault in poorest areas

27th April 2007 at 01:00
TEACHERS IN state schools with the poorest intakes are eight times more likely to be physically assaulted by pupils than those who work in better-off areas, according to government figures.

Teachers' leaders, shocked by the disparity in danger levels, are calling for more social workers and educational psychologists to help staff in poorer areas.

Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "Teachers working in these schools are heroes because they have to deal with challenges at all levels to a much greater degree."

The information emerged from a parliamentary answer that detailed the number of pupils excluded from state schools for physical assault against adults.

During 200405, there were only 220 such exclusions - permanent and temporary -in the 10 per cent of secondaries in the most affluent areas, as measured by free school meals. This equates to 0.63 exclusions for every 1,000 pupils.

But in the 10 per cent of secondaries in the poorest areas, there were 1,860 exclusions for the same offence - a rate of 6.35 per 1,000 pupils, more than 10 times that in schools in the most affluent areas.

A similar discrepancy showed up in the primary sector: 121 exclusions or 0.4 per 1,000 pupils in richer areas compared with 1,480 or 3.04 per 1,000 pupils in poorer areas.

"We don't want to stigmatise these children, but if physical assaults are more frequent, then other forms of bad behaviour - from verbal assaults to low-level disruption - will be too," said Ms Bousted.

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