A fresh wave of violence is sweeping our primary schools, with a 20% increase in the number of physical assaults on teachers over the last year.
Violence in our schools is an ongoing issue and has been causing a stir for a number of years. A spike in violent attacks by primary school students on teachers in 2009 saw 190 students excluded from their places of study. Since then the number of exclusions has been falling year on year but with 2012 once again showing dramatic increases in violent incidents against adults and 176 children being excluded, there is real concern that not enough is being done to tackle the issue.
Although a widespread problem, some institutions seem more affected than others. Whitehawk City Academy, Homewood College and Carden Primary school have each excluded more than 20 pupils for violence and aggression against their teachers in the past year, far above the national average.
This spike in the exclusion rate coincides with a recent change in regulations that has seen head teachers given more powers to deal with unruly students. Some people are saying this could be to blame for the increase as head teachers lay down the law in an attempt to establish an example for their students.
Andrew Stephenson, School Business Manager at Varndean School was eager to illustrate that the new system is working saying “While there may be a rise for a short period, the numbers of exclusions have gone down again.” So for some at least these new powers seem to be having the desired effect.
Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education takes a hard line on these young offenders stating, “Schools should be safe zones not battle zones and that a zero tolerance policy has to prevail.”
However he is also committed to ensuring that those affected are not abandoned by the education system worried that excluded students who are often put off education for life are instead “educated and cared for, until they are ready for re-integration, but not at the expense of the remainder of the school community.”
The council also seem keen not to let the failings of a few institutions tarnish the reputation of other schools in the area, a council spokesman said “It is worth noting that over 80% of our mainstream schools in Brighton and Hove are judged good or outstanding for Behaviour and Safety by Ofsted.”
This being said there is certainly an issue here that is not being addressed, and while national programs reduce inter-pupil violence have seen figures fall by almost 40% it is clear that a new approach is needed when it comes to protecting the teachers on the front line.