Young pupils becoming ‘more violent due to impact of Covid’

Teaching union EIS said one teacher suffered a broken jaw after being kicked in the face by a pupil.

Young pupils becoming ‘more violent due to impact of Covid’ iStock

Young primary school children are showing more violent behaviour due to the impact of coronavirus, Scotland’s largest teaching union has said.

In evidence to MSPs, the EIS union said one primary teacher suffered a broken jaw after being kicked in the face and another lost a tooth to a punch.

The EIS also said more children now have additional support needs (ASN), while growing numbers are arriving at primary one showing signs of delayed development – such as still wearing nappies or lacking speech skills.

Holyrood’s Education Committee is examining the impact of lockdowns and coronavirus on children with ASN.

In written evidence, the EIS said: “Also reported has been an increase in violent incidents arising from pupils’ distressed behaviour, most notably among P1 and P2 children who traditionally have been less likely to exhibit violent behaviour.

“It was recently reported to the EIS national executive committee from one local association area that over the period of a few days in that week, one early primary teacher had suffered a broken jaw and damage to the eye socket from being kicked in the face by a pupil; and another in a different school had a tooth knocked out, having been punched in the face by a child in primary two.”

Laurie Black, convener of the EIS union’s ASN committee, spoke to MSPs on Wednesday.

She said: “A number of children are displaying quite violent or distressed behaviour, which is impacting their learning and their peers’ as well.”

The union’s submission to the committee said some teachers feel behavioural support resources have diminished significantly over the last decade.

The EIS also raised concerns about mental health issues among pupils, noting that waiting lists for support are growing.

A need for more bereavement support services as a result of the pandemic was also highlighted by the union.

It raised further concerns about the disproportionate impact of the shift to online learning on pupils who speak English as a second language.

ASN children displayed worsening behaviour during the pandemic, the union said, saying there was “an increase in impulsive behaviours, more swearing, and use of transphobic and misogynistic language”.