Pupils threaten one in six teachers

19th May 2000 at 01:00
Union leader blames cutbacks in child exclusions for increase in

physical and verbal abuse

MORE than one in six teachers have faced verbal or physical threats from pupils and nearly one in eight has received similar abuse from parents, new statistics reveal.

Telephone calls to a teacher

helpline about aggressive parents and pupils are now running at 1,000 a month, with counsellors citing intimidation in schools as a contributing factor to stress.

In a separate development, the director of public prosecutions has written to his 43 senior managers highlighting headteachers' concerns of escalating violence in schools - and the need to take action.

The scale of threatening behaviour is revealed in a survey of 500 teachers, commissioned by Teacherline.

Its figures, extrapolated to cover all of England and Wales, suggest that 85,000 teachers have experienced threats or verbal aggression from pupils in the past two years. In an unknown number of cases these led to actual physical assaults. Around 58,000 had similar problems with parents.

David Calvert-Smith, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, has told the National Association of Headteachers that he shares its concerns about violence in schools.

His comments came after an NAHT survey last month revealed that thousands of heads had experienced problems with violent and abusive parents. David Hart, general secretary f the NAHT, said: "Whether it's pupils or parents, this is a serious matter."

The 1988 Elton inquiry into discipline estimated that one in 200 secondary teachers had been subjected to incidents of a "clearly violent nature" in a week.

The Teacherline survey, carried out by Opinion Leader Research, has been released as the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers is supporting 15 cases where teachers are refusing to teach disruptive pupils.

This takes the total to 35 for the first four months of the year.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary, said: "The Government boasts of around 2,000 fewer youngsters permanently excluded and this is the result."

A spokesman for Teacherline, backed by the Teachers' Benevolent Fund, said:

"Teachers should not have to put up with this as part of their job."

Dr Roger Hewitt, a senior research associate at Goldsmiths' College, London, who was involved in a study of violence in six secondary schools, was cautious about the findings.

"Our survey did not find a picture of predominant menace towards teachers, as would be suggested by this survey," he said.

Teacherline will present more of its findings at a conference in London on Monday, addressed by Lord Puttnam, chairman of the General Teaching Council. For more details, tel 020 7453 5499. Helpline 08000 562561

Parent attacks head, 5

Leader, 18


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