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Violence in schools ‘becoming normal’

TEACHING union NASUWT is demanding action as concerns grow  that workplace violence is becoming normalised in Scotland’s schools.

The union has claimed that in “too many schools, verbal and physical abuse against teachers is going unchallenged.”

General secretary Patrick Roach wants the government to make “strong and unequivocal statements about the rights of teachers to a safe working environment.”

The union is to discuss the issue at its Scottish conference today, with a motion noting “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 proposed motion also claims that teachers’ health 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.” 

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Roach said that the restorative behaviour policies used to deal with some incidents — which see the pupils responsible required to discuss their actions with staff — are “becoming synonymous in too many cases with no punishment or sanctions for unacceptable behaviour.”

He called for clear guidelines to be introduced for all schools to support teachers.

“No teacher should go to work with the expectation that they will be either verbally or physically abused,” he said.

“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 that 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.”

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