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Violence policy gap alarms union

The vast majority of local authority schools have no policy for dealing with abuse of teachers, according to a survey which shows a quarter of teaching staff have felt physically threatened and one in seven has been assaulted by pupils.

The survey, carried out in Manchester by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, has discovered that independent schools are much more likely to have a policy compared with LEA secondary schools (20 per cent) and primary schools (10 per cent).

Three out of four secondary members say they have had to endure verbal abuse from pupils, 43 per cent of primary members have been verbally abused by parents, and 29 per cent have felt physically threatened by a parent. It appears, according to the survey, that those most at risk teach upils aged three to seven.

In a third of the cases reported to management of the secondary schools, the victim was not happy with the outcome, while in the case of primary schools half were dissatisfied.

Brian Waters, Manchester ATL branch secretary, said: "Although assault from outsiders appears to be the least frequent occurrence, improved external security was the main request from teachers for improved conditions. In two particular cases, members reported that their school had refused requests for personal alarms and improved security because it would send the wrong message about the school."

The branch has tabled a motion to the union's annual conference this Easter in Torquay urging legislation to ensure schools invest adequate and appropriate safety and surveillance systems to protect staff and deter intruders."

Peter Smith, the ATL's general secretary, said: "The Dunblane primary school tragedy has shocked the nation into realising just how vulnerable children and teachers can be in our schools.

"Calls for more investment and further measures to safeguard security look set to be a government priority."

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