Violence and verbal abuse 'taking toll on teachers’ health'

Survey finds more than half of Aberdeen teachers have experienced verbal abuse in the 2021/22 academic session.

More than six in ten teachers surveyed in Aberdeen say physical violence and verbal abuse in schools is having an impact on their health and wellbeing.

The survey by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) of more than 600 members in Aberdeen found almost three in ten (28.54%) had been physically assaulted in the 2021/22 session.

It is now calling for the creation of a joint working group to better support staff.

Aberdeen City Council says it has created a new incident reporting process but appreciates further work is required.

Over the 2021/22 period, more than half (54.14%) of teachers said they experienced verbal abuse, an increase on 2019, including racist, sexual orientation and gender specific comments.

When asked if physical violence and verbal abuse has had an impact on their health and wellbeing, 33.5% of members surveyed agreed while 29.4% strongly agreed.

Meanwhile, the majority of teachers (89.91%) who responded indicated more support is needed from the local authority.

EIS local association secretary Ron Constable said: “The returns from our local survey of teachers in Aberdeen city makes for very worrying reading.

“Teachers are experiencing high levels of physical and verbal abuse, coupled with the additional strains of teaching during the pandemic.

“This is placing severe stress on our members right across the city. International research has shown that teacher wellbeing is a prerequisite for pupil wellbeing and effective teaching and learning.

“It is also evident from the comments that teachers are concerned about the level of support available to deal with violent incidents. In many cases they feel it simply isn’t there.

“The vast majority of teachers feel they are seeking to manage children presenting complex needs without the correct resources. It is also very telling that almost 50% of teachers have thought about leaving their career in teaching.

“The survey results and comments send a very clear message, which must be heeded by Aberdeen City Council.”

Half of all teachers (50%) said that when they reported a violent incident, it was not satisfactorily resolved.

The survey of teachers and associated professionals also found nearly half (47.46%) of teachers have considered leaving the profession.

Councillor Yvonne Allan, convener of staff governance at Aberdeen City Council, said: “We welcome the results of the EIS survey and appreciate being able to compare the responses from November 2021 with those gathered in 2019.

“The safety and wellbeing of staff and pupils in our schools is of the utmost priority for Aberdeen City Council and we note that the EIS report recognises the collaborative and co-operative approach the council and the union have to tackle the issues following the EIS survey of 2019.

“As the report indicates, we have worked positively together to create a new incident reporting process and a sub-committee dedicated to ensuring the safety of staff.

“We are pleased to see that some areas have improved, including the upward trend in the number of survey respondents who feel there is a clear strategy in place to support them in comparison with the 2019 survey.

“However, we are never complacent. We appreciate that we still have work to do. The recommendation to maintain the supporting learners sub-group to continue to consider how best to collaboratively support the workforce is welcomed.

“We look forward to continuing to work with our trade unions to help ensure that our schools staff have all the support they need to be able to undertake their valuable work.”

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