Teachers' union calls for government action to tackle violence in schools

Teachers' union NASUWT condemn 'half-baked proposals' from ministers over escalating violence and abuse in classrooms.

A teaching union has called for Government action to tackle escalating violence and abuse from pupils in schools, claiming ministers have “failed” to address the issue.

Members of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union is demanding a system of strategies to be put in place for “dangerous and disruptive behaviour” including consequences for pupils at its Scotland Annual Conference on Friday.

NASUWT members at the conference, which is being held virtually, said ministers have “failed to publish and implement nationally recognised clear behaviour guidelines” for all schools.

It comes after a series of national behaviour summits were organised by the cabinet secretary in 2023.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “In the absence of the robust provisions needed from Government, we will continue to take all steps in schools to ensure our members are protected from violence and abuse.

“But teachers should also be able to rely on their elected government to back them in safely undertaking the vital work they do every day with our children and young people.

“Despite the cabinet secretary professing to be deeply concerned about pupil behaviour in schools, all that she has done is announce a set of half-baked proposals that do not go anywhere near far enough to deal with the realities that teachers are experiencing day-in day-out in their classrooms.”  

Mike Corbett, NASUWT Scotland national official, said: “While it is clear much more needs to be done to tackle the root causes of the upsurge in violence, abuse and poor behaviour, immediate action can and should be taken to address its effects in our schools.

“In the past fortnight there have been two serious weapon attacks by pupils on staff and fellow pupils on school premises in the UK. Teachers are not being hyperbolic when they say they fear for their safety and feel the Scottish Government is currently not doing all it could to protect them.

“The cabinet secretary cannot claim to be in any doubt about what is needed to help address this problem. She needs to show real leadership by putting in place national guidelines that make it clear to schools what is expected of them and which uphold teachers’ right to work in safety.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “The NASUWT are part of the national group tasked with producing a behaviour action plan – which shows clear partnership working between Scottish Government and the teaching professional associations.

“As members of this group, the NASUWT helped to write the action plan, which will publish in the coming weeks.

“Changes in behaviour in Scotland’s schools since the pandemic are well understood – this is why the Cabinet Secretary committed to holding a series of summits focused on behaviour, convened the headteacher’s taskforce and published the behaviour in Scotland’s Schools research last November – culminating in the commitment to this action plan.

“Actions will set our responsibilities for Government nationally and for Local Authorities who have the statutory responsibility for the delivery of education in Scotland.

“The Cabinet Secretary regularly meets with Mr Corbett on a range of issues including workload and reducing class contact most recently.

“Ms Gilruth extends her warm welcome to Dr Roach to meet on any of these issues.”

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