Apr 28 2010

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UK: Violence against staff in schools falls

By Calum Ross, The Press and Journal.

Violence against staff in Aberdeen schools has fallen to a five-year low, new figures revealed yesterday.

The number of violent incidents against employees in city secondary schools almost halved between 2007-08 and 2008-09, falling from 311 to 157.

There was a similar downward trend in Aberdeen’s primary schools, where the number of incidents fell to 122 – down from 140 in 2007-08 and 444 the year before.

Figures released by Aberdeen City Council under freedom of information legislation showed 466 violent incidents against staff across all schools in 2008-09, compared with 754 the previous year and 1,151 in 2006-07.

At schools in the neighbouring Aberdeenshire local authority area, the total number of incidents increased from 278 in 2007-08 to 317 in 2008-09, although overall the figures were lower than in the city and more stable.

Rob Peaker, north-east health and safety officer for teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland, welcomed the figures.

He said the surge in incidents three years ago arose when the local authority tightened up reporting procedures, and the reduction was probably a reflection of schools learning lessons from problems in the past.

“I think the reporting is robust and the numbers will be fairly accurate, so if it has come down then it must reflect the fact there are fewer violent incidents going on,” he said.

“You learn from it and put measures in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Councillor Martin Greig, vice-convener of education in Aberdeen, said: “It’s absolutely correct that people report violent incidents against staff.

“These are appalling incidents which we need to tackle, and it’s good news to see the figures coming down.”

Aberdeen City Council’s education director Annette Bruton said: “The ethos and behaviour in our schools is central to children learning successfully. I welcome the reduction in violent incidents in our schools and we will continue to work to support this positive trend.”

Councillor Andy May, convener of education in Aberdeen and a former head teacher, said the figures were “heartening”.

He said: “I am delighted to hear that the figures have dropped.

“Violence against teachers is taken very seriously in Aberdeen. As a head teacher we were encouraged to report each incident of violence, whether it was verbal or physical, so that everyone knew what was going on.

“These figures paint a pretty accurate picture, and clearly we’re moving in the right direction.”

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