More than half of teachers in Dundee have been physical assaulted whilst at work, a union survey has revealed.
The Dundee branch of Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), surveyed its members on the violent and aggressive behaviour they had experienced.
The initial findings revealed that over half of respondents had been physically assaulted, whilst a further 91% said they had been verbally abused by a pupil at school.
Verbal and physical violence towards staff also appears to be an issue at pre-school level and a separate survey canvassing opinion from nursery staff – also carried out by the Dundee EIS branch – found that all of the respondents had been physically assaulted at work.
Initial results also showed a further 86% of nursery staff also said they had experienced verbal abuse.
Both surveys raised questions over the amount of support being offered to those who had experienced abuse at work, with 86% of teachers surveyed saying that they felt Dundee City Council had offered no support to them on these issues.
Similarly, it was revealed that 71% of nursery staff also felt unsupported by the local authority.
“It’s completely unacceptable”
Georgia Cruickshank, who acts as Labour’s education spokesperson in the city, condemned the initial findings of the survey and called on the council to do more to support those who have been affected.
She said: “I think it’s disgraceful that any teacher should have to put up with any kind of abuse. Nobody goes to work to be abused.
“I’m sure through the EIS union, they will provide support to the members and I would expect the council do to the same.”
Councillor Fraser MacPherson, who represents the West End ward in the city, raised concerns over the findings of the survey – deeming the abuse “unacceptable”.
He said: “It’s completely unacceptable for any member of teaching staff or anyone else who works in the school setting to be subject to abuse.
“I can only speak for my own local area but I would say that schools take these matters exceptionally seriously.
“I would hope that any member of staff who has been subject to that would report it and I would expect that the children and family service would actively help them and investigate each and every report.”
The longstanding Lib Dem councillor also offered his praise to those who had been working with young people during the pandemic and argued it was all the more reason for teachers to be well supported in dealing with abusive behaviour.
Mr MacPherson added: “Teaching staff have done a superb job during what has been a very challenging year and we are very grateful for that.
“Therefore, it’s vitally important that the teachers and other staff in schools are always well supported at all times and that any inappropriate behaviour is dealt with.”
“I would hope that any member of staff who has been subject to that would report it.”
Councillor Fraser MacPherson
Responding the findings of the survey, Dundee City Council said it will work with the EIS to address the issues raised.
A spokesman for the local authority said: “Teachers are encouraged to report any incident that they regard as violent and we work closely with them to offer support.
“All incidents are treated extremely seriously.
“Schools also take the appropriate action against pupils where this is necessary.
“We discuss these issues regularly with the trade unions and will be looking closely the contents of this survey.
“We are aware that this is a matter which is also considered at a national level.”