Campaign highlights abuse of NI teachers — 14% assaulted in past year

Posters produced by NASUWT
Posters produced by NASUWT

A teacher’s union has introduced a series of posters highlighting the abuse of teachers after a recent survey found 14% of teachers in Northern Ireland had been physially assaulted in the last year.

NASUWT, (National Association of Schoolmasters Union and Women Teachers) has produced the posters to go on display in schools to “build on the success of similar campaigns in NHS hospitals, public sector buildings and railway stations, which make a clear statement that abuse of staff will not be tolerated.”

A recent survey of Northern Ireland teachers found that 82% identified a widespread problem of poor pupil behaviour in schools today, and pupil indiscipline is now second only to workload in teachers’ top concerns about their job.

More than half (57%) of teachers told NASUWT in a survey carried out earlier this year that they had been subjected to verbal abuse by a pupil in the last 12 months and 27% said they had been verbally abused by a parent or carer.

As many as 18% had received threats of physical assault by a pupil in the preceding 12 months and 14% had actually been physically assaulted.

Two percent had been threatened with physical assault by a parent or carer.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Go into any NHS hospital, GP surgery, railway station and many other workplaces and you will find posters being displayed which state clearly the expectations of how staff should be treated and that abuse of staff will not be tolerated.

“The NASUWT believes that those who employ teachers and headteachers should also be prepared to make such a clear commitment to the safety and dignity of their staff.

“All teachers and headteachers are entitled to a safe working environment free from violence and abuse. Employers have a legal duty of care to provide this.”

The union boss continued: “Too many teachers are going to work each day with an expectation that they will be verbally or physically abused. More and more headteachers report being abused by parents and carers.

“Verbal and physical abuse is not part of the job. It is unacceptable and must be challenged.

“Our aim is to have these posters displayed prominently in every school across the country where they will be seen by pupils, parents and visitors to the site.”

The NASUWT General Secretary added: “Whether or not there is a problem of abuse of teachers and other staff in the school, the posters will reinforce the standards of behaviour which are expected towards staff.”

“Good employers will have no problem with displaying the posters.”