Major assaults on staff reach five-year high

19th November 2010 at 00:00
In last year, 44 had to be rushed to hospital with serious injuries

Almost 300 school staff have suffered "major" injuries as a consequence of violent attacks so severe, in the past 10 years, that they have had to leave in an ambulance, new Government figures show.

A total of 44 were so seriously hurt in the last academic year that they had to be rushed to hospital - the highest number in more than five years. Over the same period, 207 more teachers were assaulted and needed longer than three days to recover.

The statistics, revealed by schools minister Nick Gibb in answer to a parliamentary question this week, show that 2,126 teachers have been violently injured at school since 2001. A total of 17,120 pupils have been suspended for assaulting an adult in school in 200809.

In a recent survey this year, 38 per cent of members of teaching union ATL said they had had to "deal" with physical aggression, and 7.6 per cent said they had suffered "physical harm".

A teacher on The TES forums, writing under the name Darjones, said his school had not done enough for him following an assault. "I've had very little support or no support at all (after being shot at by a pupil with a ball-bearing gun). There seems to be a loop in the law system and I didn't get any representation in court.

"The boy got off with nothing and the papers were allowed to report on the boys' views, while I couldn't defend myself. I thought perhaps I couldn't be the only teacher in the UK who has had a gun pointed at their head and fired."

Julian Stanley, chief executive of the Teacher Support Network, said: "We believe that great teachers are made in part by the environment in which they work.

"How can we expect teachers to reach their full potential or, by extension, our children to reach theirs if teachers are not fully protected and supported?

"When violence and disruption occurs in schools, it can have a negative effect on both the well-being of teachers and the attainment of pupils.

"Training is vitally important to ensure that they can manage violence and disruption confidently and effectively and should be provided to every teacher."

Mary Bousted, chief executive of ATL, said: "Regrettably, we are not surprised by these statistics. Every year some staff suffer violence from pupils and some are so severely affected they aren't able to continue working in schools.

"Any violence against education staff is unacceptable. Schools need to be safe places where pupils and staff alike feel safe from harm and can work in a calm environment."

Education secretary Michael Gove is expected to announce changes to school discipline laws in the forthcoming white paper.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "Violence against teachers is completely unacceptable - that's why we are sweeping away red tape and giving schools the tough powers they need to get a grip in the classroom."

At present, the only official national record of assaults against teachers is held by the Health and Safety Executive, which records significant injuries reported to it.

The Government still does not collect detailed information about assaults in school - something teaching unions have campaigned for.

TES forums: `Y10 tried to push me through wall'


"I remember the time a local authority education adviser happened to be in the building when one of our social, emotional and behavioural special needs pupils went on the rampage, destroying property and assaulting several members of staff. It happened to be me to whom he addressed the comment: `What could you have done differently to avoid being punched several times in the stomach by X?' My respect for said adviser matched his comment."


"I taught for 21 years in two schools in the North West. My highlight was when I ended up restraining a Year 10 boy, who had tried to push me through a wall. Head's response: `Why did you stand in his way? Child protection have been brought in and parents have contacted police about a possible assault charge' (on me for restraining the child - who was about 6ft tall - I am 5' 7"). Luckily, it ended up with the boy being permanently excluded some months later. Six months later, he attacked a disabled man with a home-made spear which he drove into the guy's head. I wish I had called the police the day he assaulted me."


"At my school, a Year 7 pupil shot a teacher with a BB (ball-bearing) gun. The teacher was not injured. The pupil was permanently expelled (though the school did not report the incident to the police). The pupil's friend also admitted to having a BB gun in his bag. He was suspended for three weeks."

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Incidents reported to the Teacher Support Network support lines

"A teacher who had scissors thrown at his head called our support line. He said he felt the school was unsupportive and he threatened to resign. Teacher Support Network helped this individual expunge some of his frustration and see what he really wanted to do, which in his case is leave the profession."

"A special needs teacher is being counselled by us as preparation for return to work after an incident in which a pupil significantly hurt him. In three school years, he has been injured in some way 14 times."

  • Original headline: Call an ambulance: major assaults on school staff reach five-year high

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