Teachers attacked daily in Suffolk – with many at primary schools

Primary schools reported the highest number of physical and verbal assaults against teachers in Suff

Primary schools reported the highest number of physical and verbal assaults against teachers in Suffolk, new data reveals. Picture: DAVE THOMPSON/PA - Credit: PA

Teachers in Suffolk were assaulted hundreds of times in the last three years – with many physical attacks happening in primary schools.

Suffolk NUT secretary Graham White said pupils may be reacting to an inappropriate curriculum. Pictu

Suffolk NUT secretary Graham White said pupils may be reacting to an inappropriate curriculum. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Andy Abbott

The total number of assaults, which can range from being strangled, punched and kicked to having tables and chairs thrown at teachers, was 649.

That is the equivalent of one teacher being attacked for each day of the academic year.

Latest data, recorded at the county’s schools in 2015, 2016 and 2017, reveals more than 300 incidents were reported at primary schools.

Worst affected schools included Pipers Vale Primary in Ipswich with 16 attacks, Heath Primary in Kesgrave had 14 while Maidstone Infant School recorded 16.

Suffolk County Council's Gordon Jones said children should not be taken out of school without good r

Suffolk County Council's Gordon Jones said children should not be taken out of school without good reason. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER - Credit: Archant


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Roman Hill Primary School in Lowestoft had the most with 29, while Clements Primary Academy in Haverhill reported 19.

Union officials claim such attacks may be sparked by a negative reaction to the curriculum.

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Suffolk NUT secretary Graham White said: “Any attack on a teacher is terrible and entirely unacceptable, and sadly it is not uncommon.

“What you have to think of is why did they do it, particularly with primary school children.

“The curriculum may be inappropriate which causes a reaction in children and makes them disconnect, getting angry at the teacher as a consequence.

“They may have a troubled home life, some of these attacks will be down to outside influences or more complex behavioural issues.

“It’s all about managing behaviour with that in mind. We have to look at the root cause.”

Representatives for Piper’s Vale said since it was taken over by the Paradigm Trust in September 2017 no attacks had been reported.

Clements Primary Academy chiefs said they were delighted with improvements made since it was taken over by the Samuel Ward Academy Trust – and added the school adopts a zero-tolerance policy towards violence.

Other schools mentioned were approached for comment but did not respond.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education, Gordon Jones, said: “We take the health and safety of all staff incredibly seriously.

“It is incredibly disappointing to hear of any teacher being subjected to verbal or physical harm.

“We encourage all schools to report incidents that affect staff so that they can get the correct level of support and advice, should such situations occur.”

Fixed period exclusions up but no figures for Essex

Essex County Council and the Department for Education said data for schools in the county was not available at the time of submitting our request for information.

However, latest government figures from September 2017 suggest the number of fixed period exclusions for physical attacks against adults – which include teachers and support staff – rose from 470 to 501 in 2015/16.

Overall numbers climbed from 6,560 to 7,008.

At the time, Essex NUT secretary Jerry Glazier warned that bosses needed to target causes, not the symptoms – and added cuts to health services and social services were making the situation worse.

The figures for Suffolk also increased by 46% in a year.

According to the data, published by the Department for Education, 340 physical assaults against adults were recorded in primary, secondary and special schools in Suffolk during 2014/15.

This compares with 498 for the 2015/16 academic year.

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