Only four out of 10 members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers believe that their school's discipline policies work.
The union's Scottish conference in Carnoustie yesterday (Thursday) turned up the heat in the debate on classroom indiscipline and violence by releasing the findings of a survey across nurseries, primaries and secondaries.
One in five staff reports suffering physical assaults by pupils. In secondaries, more than six out of 10 (64 per cent) have experienced verbal abuse. In primaries, this falls to 46 per cent.
Even in nurseries, three out of five teachers experienced abuse or assault, although the union does not spell out how many teachers took part in its survey.
A further concern is that pupils refuse to follow teachers' requests. In primaries, 75 per cent reported this as a persistent problem but in secondaries this rose to 91 per cent.
Ian Clydesdale, the union's Scottish president and a Paisley secondary teacher, said that discipline problems were an "insidious cancer" in schools. "Had you asked me just for my own views and my own experience, I would have said today we are heading for meltdown in some schools as discipline dissolves and inappropriate inclusivity invades our once stable classrooms. However, the views are not simply my own. The figures make horrifying reading," Mr Clydesdale told delegates.
It had become too much for some teachers, who had become ill or had resigned and been forced into early retirement.
"What chance is there for the pupils who do want to learn if they are surrounded by those who are hell-bent on behaving as yobs and delinquents?"
Victor Topping, Scottish member on the union's United Kingdom executive, said: "The survey confirms what we have suspected over the last decade.
Many children are out of control. Some parents seem not to be parenting.
Teachers cannot undo in a few hours of school each day years of parental neglect."
Jane Peckham, union assistant, who organised the survey, said: "As a former primary teacher, the most disturbing fact for me is that the increase in unruly behaviour is across the board, not just in secondary as is generally assumed. Parents must assume responsibility and stop expecting teachers to fix the problems."