Almost one in three Aberdeen teachers has considered quitting the classroom in the face of “unacceptable” levels of daily violence and abuse.
A shock survey of city teachers has revealed most have been assaulted in city schools – with almost 30% experiencing violence at the hands of a pupil in the last year.
Many others faced a barrage of derogatory comments in their daily working lives, with reports of students aiming sexual slurs and directing abuse related to their age, sexual orientation or race.
The EIS teaching union sought evidence from 660 of its city members in May this year and has now released the findings.
It said the findings portrayed a “worrying picture” of education in the city at a time when the council is, like many, struggling to retain experienced staff and fill posts.
Some 28% of teachers reported they had been hit by a pupil in the last year, with 57% saying it had happened to them over the past five years.
The most common forms of attack were being punched (41%) or being kicked (47%), while others included pushing and shoving, spitting, being struck with an object and biting.
Just over 18% indicated violent behaviour took place in their schools once a day while others (19%) reported it took place once a week and 17% said once a month.
A vast majority of teachers have experienced verbal abuse from pupils, with 53% saying it had occurred in the last year and 85% reporting it over the past five years.
There is also widespread concern about the council’s reporting procedures, with only around a third of staff feeling there was a “clear strategy” to support an assaulted worker and 16.53% “strongly disagreeing” this was the case.
Given long-standing recruitment issues in Aberdeen schools, the results also reveal around 30% have considered leaving the profession due to “disruptive, challenging or violent pupils”.
Now unions will work with local authority bosses to come up with a new plan to crack down on the assaults.
There will be a further survey of members next year to see if the situation has improved.
Ron Constable, of the EIS, said: “At no point should teachers be going into their place of employment in fear they could be assaulted or verbally abused.
“Nearly 30% of our 660 members surveyed said they had been physically assaulted in the last session and 18% indicated they had seen assaults every day in their educational establishment.
“We have requested that a working group be set up, meeting every month, to look closely at these issues.”
The EIS report reads: “In the session 2018/19, 53.75% responding to the survey experience verbal abuse, with 85.66% experiencing abuse over last five years.
“By far the largest category of verbal abuse was swearing. The other categories included racist, sexual orientation, sex or gender specific, disability, religion and belief and age-related remarks being made to teachers.
“Members provided evidence of “general sexual remarks” as well as “sexually explicit comments.”
“There were also comments linked to violence, “threat of violence, challenged to a fight and personal insults.”
“This portrays a worrying picture given the challenge to recruit and retain staff in the council.”
Last September, the P&J revealed shocking statistics that showed north-east teachers had been attacked with BB guns, saws and classroom furniture.
A number of weapons were seized by staff, including multi-tools, maths compasses and craft knives.
Aberdeen City Council education committee member Martin Greig said: “The attacks on staff are completely unacceptable and should not become the norm. ”
A city council spokeswoman said: “The safety of our teaching staff is of paramount importance to the council.
“Teaching and support staff in schools receive advice and guidance to ensure they are equipped to diffuse situations and reduce levels of risk, with these arrangements kept under regular review.
“We engage regularly with trade unions and are committed to continuing that positive dialogue with a view to continuing to protect and support staff.”