Teachers leaders are demanding action amid concerns that “workplace violence” is “becoming normalised” in Scotland’s schools.
The NASUWT teaching union has claimed that in “too many schools, verbal and physical abuse against teachers is going unchallenged”.
General secretary Patrick Roach wants the Scottish Government to make “strong and unequivocal statements about the rights of teachers to a safe working environment”.
The union is to discuss the issue, which it regards as a growing problem, at an Scottish conference on Saturday.
Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Roach said the restorative behaviour policies used to deal with some incidents – which see the pupil responsible required to discuss their actions with staff – are “becoming synonymous in too many cases with no punishment or sanctions for unacceptable behaviour”.
A motion, to be discussed during the online event, “notes with concern that ‘workplace violence’ is becoming normalised as part of teaching” – as well as highlighting the “increased use of restorative conversations across Scotland’s local authorities”.
The motion goes on to claim that “the health of teachers in schools is being put at risk by pupil indiscipline, firstly by the stress induced and secondly by the increased risk of more serious incidents through tolerating this indiscipline”.
Concerns are also raised that the education and wellbeing of children in schools is “being compromised through tolerating this indiscipline and violence”.
Dr Roach insisted: “In too many schools, verbal and physical abuse against teachers is going unchallenged.
“There is a growing culture in schools of ‘blame the teacher’ rather than holding pupils accountable for their behaviour, and this is being aided and abetted in some cases by the misuse and abuse of restorative behaviour policies, which are becoming synonymous in too many cases with no punishment or sanctions for unacceptable behaviour.
“While good behaviour management policies encourage pupils to reflect on their own behaviour, they also have in place clear and consistently enforced sanctions for verbal abuse or physical violence and make clear to all pupils that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
“Evidence shows that positive pupil behaviour stems from a whole school approach where managements lead and support staff in maintaining good discipline.
“No teacher should go to work with the expectation that they will be either verbally or physically abused. All teachers are entitled to dignity at work and a safe working environment.
“Teachers are being disempowered by the failure of government to ensure that across the country, behaviour policies are supporting teachers in maintaining high standards of discipline.
“It’s about time the Scottish Government made strong and unequivocal statements about the rights of teachers to a safe working environment, and took action to ensure that these rights are being delivered.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “No teacher should have to suffer verbal or physical abuse in schools.
“We all want pupils to behave in a respectful manner towards their peers and staff and we have produced guidance for local authorities and schools to prevent exclusions and manage behaviour which they can implement according to local needs and circumstances.
“Through our advisory group on relationships and behaviour, we work with a wide range of partners, including NASUWT, to deliver programmes and resources to support our local authorities and schools promote positive behaviour and relationships.”
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