Teachers in Wales are being subjected to physical violence and verbal abuse on a daily basis, a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has revealed.
A third of the school and college staff surveyed claim to have endured punching, kicking and pushing while at work, 25 per cent of whom say they were targeted personally. Another quarter said they had witnessed violence directed at a colleague.
In Cardiff, figures obtained by the Conservative Party under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in February show an increase in violent incidents in the capital’s schools, which increased by 85 to 226 in 2010-11 from 141 in 2007-08.
The trend is mirrored across Wales with 13 of its 22 local authorities recording an increase in violence towards staff last year while Cardiff and Caerphilly recorded the highest number of pupil exclusions during the 2010-11 academic year.
Dr Philip Dixon, Director of ATL Cymru, said: “It is completely unacceptable that a third of teaching staff in our schools and colleges have experienced violence. We need a zero tolerance approach to violent behaviour in schools.
“School staff and the vast majority of other pupils should not be expected to tolerate the appalling bahaviour of the few.”
He also called on parents to lead by example, adding: “Problems at home are often at the root of bad behaviour. Parents have a duty to their children and society to be good role models.”
Despite ATL Wales members reporting the majority of bad behaviour was low-level disruption, 57 per cent of respondants to the survey said they believed the situation had deteriorated over the last five years.
Echoing Dr Dixon’s sentiments, 73 per cent of school staff cited a lack of positive role models at home as one of the major factors contributing to bad behaviour in schools while 63 per cent blamed relational breakdowns for the disruptions.
But despite the rate of exclusions rising across more than half of Wales’s local authorites, 53 per cent of respondents said there had been no permanant exclusions for poor behaviour in the current academic year at their school with exclusion the sixth most used form of discipline ranking behind warnings, detentions and suspensions.
Owen Hathway, Policy Officer for NUT Wales, said: “This feedback shows the huge challenges teachers across Wales face.
“We hope the Welsh Government, and local authorities, ensure action is taken to tackle this issue.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said it would not tolderate violence and aggression in schools and colleges against teachers or pupils.
"It is important schools are safe places to ensure the best possible educational environment for young people. We have already introduced powers for school discipline, parental responsibility and exclusion which include revised guidance on the use of force to control or restrain pupils.
"The Minister made it clear in his 20 point plan he wants to improve behaviour in schools and we are taking steps to achieve this. We have distributed to each secondary school in Wales a handbook highlighting best practice approaches to manage pupils’ behaviour in the classroom.