Pupil violence against teachers getting worse, union says

Jimmy Nsubuga
·2-min read
Teachers have been subjected to threats and violence. (Getty)
Teachers have been subjected to threats and violence. (Getty)

Pupil's use of “derogatory sexualised” terms, violence and threats against teachers is increasing, a union has said.

The NASUWT union’s annual conference heard teachers had witnessed a “deterioration” in pupil behaviour over recent years, with many staff “struggling alone” with extreme cases in the classroom.

A motion passed at the virtual conference on Saturday condemned schools and colleges who claim “unacceptable” pupil behaviour is just “part of the job”.

It also noted teachers are often left with no access to appropriate support as “many school and college leaders do not receive adequate training” in how to deal with challenging pupil behaviour.

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Teachers have asked for more help dealing with challenging pupils. (Getty)

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Wendy Exton, a member of the union’s executive, told the conference: “Today’s behaviour directed to us as teachers include not only vile language, but derogatory sexualised terms, threats to ourselves and our families, and indeed, violence itself."

She added: “In classrooms, many staff are struggling alone with extreme behaviours.”

A survey of more than 4,700 NASUWT members suggests 38% have been subjected to verbal abuse from students in the past year, while 10% have received threats of physical violence from pupils during the same period.

The poll found 6% of teachers were subjected to physical violence by pupils last year.

Ms Exton said a new culture had emerged where any blame for poor behaviour is taken away from the student, and a variety of excuses are made – from “living on a council estate to trauma and even lack of tobacco”.

The motion applauded NASUWT members across the country who have successfully balloted to take industrial action to refuse to teach violent pupils.

Delegates voted for the executive to lobby employers and governments to ensure that teachers and headteachers receive appropriate training on behaviour management issues.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “The union is continuing to take steps, up to and including industrial action and refusal to teach ballots, where members report to us that serious pupil indiscipline or abuse is going unchallenged by their school.”

Meanwhile, it emerged at the conference some parents have seen it as “fair game” to comment on teachers’ competence and to interfere during online lessons amid the pandemic.

According to a survey by the NASUWT teaching union, more than one in four teachers have been criticised by parents or carers in the past year, including “parent bombing” during remote lessons.

Dr Roach called for schools to take “a tough line” on criticism from parents – including “abusive parent bombing” during online lessons – by setting out the behaviour expectations that they have for families.

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