Survey shows 3 in 4 teaching assistants face pupil violence

More than three-quarters of teaching assistants taking part in a new survey have experienced violence in schools, it was revealed today.

Research from the GMB union shows that 77 per cent of teaching assistants who took part in a survey have faced attacks.

The survey was based on responses from 1,000 teaching assistants based in mainstream schools across the Home Counties, London and the East of England.

Responses showed that a third experienced violence every week. Injuries reportedly received include broken bones and teeth, concussions, black eyes, torn ligaments and bites that break the skin.

Nearly seven out of ten (69 per cent) participants felt that violence is expected to be tolerated as part of the job, and more than half (53 per cent) believe the assaults are not taken seriously by school leadership when reported.

GMB added that 90 per cent of teaching assistants in England’s schools are women.

One anonymous contributor said: “I do not enjoy going to work knowing I won’t be supported…It does not matter how many incident report forms I fill in.”

Almost six out of ten teaching assistants told the GMB they do not see risk assessments on pupils and the same number report that these assessments, as well as behavior plans, are not updated after incidents.

GMB told Tes that there could be scope for the survey on violence faced by teaching assistants to be extended nationally but, as yet, no plans were confirmed.

Lisa Bangs, schools lead for GMB London Schools, criticized headteachers for not fulfilling their duties in protecting staff from this violence in schools.

“This tolerance of violence and abuse against support staff in schools must end,” she said. “Headteachers are failing in their legal duty of care by allowing abuse and violence against their staff and this wouldn’t happen in any other workplace.”

“It is simple – nobody should be harmed or injured at work and GMB will be holding schools to account when they fail to protect members,” she said.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Teaching assistants play a vital role in schools. The support they offer, particularly to pupils with special educational needs, is invaluable.

“Nobody should be subjected to violence while at school, and these figures are simply appalling. Schools have stringent behavior policies in place and treat any act of violence extremely seriously.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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