Rise in violent attacks on staff in East Renfrewshire schools

Teachers and other staff in schools have faced an increase in physical and verbal attacks.
Teachers and other staff in schools have faced an increase in physical and verbal attacks.

Shocking figures show almost 600 incidents where school staff were affected by violence – either physical or verbal – in East Renfrewshire during the last school year.

Incidents rose from 262 in the 2017/18 school year to 592 in 2018/19, with 492 of these recorded as physical violence.

The statistics were revealed in a report to East Renfrewshire Council’s education committee on health, safety and security in schools.

It states the majority of violent incidents involve pupils with additional support needs or “pupils posing challenging behaviour in predominately seven schools”.

“The Education Department remains fully committed to maintaining and improving its standards in health, safety and security,” the report adds.

“Violence to staff incidents have decreased in some schools but at the same time has increased in others.

“As a result of discussions with union colleagues it has been agreed to establish a working group consisting of staff of various job roles.”

The working group will meet to identify good practice and areas for improvement, according to the report.

In total, 679 accidents and incidents involving staff were recorded last year, with 590 of these including violence. The report shows this breaks down as 98 verbal incidents and 492 physical.

“The overall increase is 330 incidents; this could be attributable to raised awareness of the importance of accident reporting, including as a consequence of trade union colleagues promoting reporting,” it states.

“Many incidents could also be due to younger pupils with additional support needs, who find the school environment challenging.”

The next highest number of recorded incidents involving school employees was 33, under the slips, trips and falls category.

The report states: “The Education Department will ensure that health and safety continues to have a prominent place in the ethos, policy and procedures of individual services and establishments.

“During 2018/2019 the department continued to take every opportunity to emphasise to all staff their responsibilities for minimising health and safety risks at work and to further enhance a positive health and safety culture in each establishment.

“Specific actions included continuation of training opportunities for all staff, updating and completion of departmental and individual establishment risk register, generic risk assessments and reviewing of fire risk assessments across establishments.”