RIS­ING TIDE OF VI­O­LENCE AGAINST SCHOOLS’ UN­SUNG HE­ROES

At­tacks on class­room as­sis­tants soar­ing

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - Front Page - By An­drew Picken

Scot­land’s class­room sup­port staff are bear­ing the brunt of soar­ing lev­els of at­tacks and abuse.

An av­er­age of 35 in­ci­dents – in­clud­ing bit­ing, punch­ing, kick­ing and verbal abuse – were recorded for ev­ery school day last year.

Union chiefs say the at­tacks, on Scot­land’s 13,000 class­room as­sis­tants in pri­mary and sec­ondary schools, are the “un­told story of Scot­tish ed­u­ca­tion”.

GMB Scot­land or­gan­iser Kirsty Nimmo said: “Ag­gres­sion and vi­o­lence at work can never be ac­cepted as nor­mal, ir­re­spec­tive of the work­ing en­vi­ron­ment, and there needs to be a far greater recog­ni­tion and re­spect for the vi­tal pub­lic ser­vice de­liv­ered by these un­sung he­roes.”

The union says the prob­lem is the re­sult of years of cuts to ed­u­ca­tion bud­gets.

Vi­o­lent at­tacks by pupils on Scot­land’s class­room as­sis­tants have rock­eted by nearly a third in the space of just three years, new fig­ures have re­vealed.

The 13,000 sup­port work­ers in pri­mary and sec­ondary schools are now reg­u­larly be­ing sub­jected to bites, punches and verbal abuse from un­ruly chil­dren.

An av­er­age of 35 at­tacks were recorded per school day last year ac­cord­ing to union chiefs who claim pres­sure on the work­ers, who take home a frac­tion of the wage earned by teach­ers, is the “un­told story of Scot­tish ed­u­ca­tion”.

One in four Scots chil­dren now has ad­di­tional sup­port needs – a rate which has more than dou­bled since 2010 – but the num­ber of ded­i­cated staff for these de­mands has not kept pace.

GMB Scot­land or­gan­iser Kirsty Nimmo: “We of­ten hear about the pres­sures fac­ing teach­ers on the front­line but rarely do we hear about or un­der­stand the in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing con­di­tions fac­ing school sup­port staff – it’s the un­told story of Scot­tish ed­u­ca­tion.

“The ris­ing lev­els of ag­gres­sion and vi­o­lence against sup­port staff are shock­ing and the tes­ti­monies of our mem­bers should serve as a wake-up call to the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and coun­cils.

“Un­for­tu­nately this is yet an­other symp­tom of Scot­land’s aus­ter­ity shame after a decade of cuts to lo­cal gov­ern­ment fund­ing and year-on-year re­duc­tions to lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion bud­gets. But this can­not go un­chal­lenged, even amid the mount­ing prob­lems af­fect­ing ed­u­ca­tion.

“Ag­gres­sion and vi­o­lence at work can never be ac­cepted as nor­mal, ir­re­spec­tive of the work­ing en­vi­ron­ment, and there needs to be a far greater recog­ni­tion and re­spect for the vi­tal pub­lic ser­vice de­liv­ered by these un­sung he­roes.”

The GMB trade union asked Scot­land’s coun­cils for in­for­ma­tion on all in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence and ag­gres­sion against class­room and pupil sup­port as­sis­tants over the last three years.

In Jan­uary it emerged al­most 10,000 teach­ers had also been at­tacked in Scot­land’s schools over the past three years.

Of Scot­land’s 32 coun­cils, only 20 re­sponded with the data re­quested so the to­tal num­ber of in­ci­dents will be even higher.

From the data pro­vided, there were 6690 in­ci­dents of ag­gres­sion or vi­o­lence to­wards sup­port staff in 2016/17, up from 5193 in 2014/15. Among the ar­eas with the big­gest in­crease was Aberdeen which saw its haul of in­ci­dents jump from 99 to 517 over the same pe­riod.

In Ed­in­burgh, the num­ber of cases has more than dou­bled in the space of three years from 405 to 1006, just be­hind Glas­gow which had the big­gest haul last year at 1113, up from 781 in 2014/15.

Scot­tish Labour’s ed­u­ca­tion spokesman Iain Gray de­scribed the in­crease as “very wor­ry­ing”.

For­mer teacher Mr Gray said: “All school staff face an in­creas­ing work­load with thou­sands fewer teach­ers and sup­port staff.

“The im­pact of cuts has many neg­a­tive ef­fects and this is a par­tic­u­larly wor­ry­ing re­sult – no­body should face the threat of as­sault at work. It is time the SNP stopped their cuts to the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and gave our teach­ers and other staff in schools the sup­port they de­serve.” The num­ber of at­tacks in Dundee in­creased from 261 to 405 – a hike of 35% – while South La­nark­shire teach­ing as­sis­tants were sub­jected to 310 acts of vi­o­lence last year com­pared to 232 three years ago.

The num­ber rose from 161 to 255 in West Loth­ian and from 282 to 391 in An­gus over the same pe­riod.

There were 69,587 chil­dren with Ad­di­tional Sup­port Needs (ASN) in

The ris­ing lev­els of ag­gres­sion and vi­o­lence against sup­port staff are shock­ing and the tes­ti­monies of our mem­bers should serve as a wake-up call

GMB or­gan­iser Kirsty Nimmo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.