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Scottish Conservatives to urge SNP to tackle “national scandal” of classroom violence

The Scottish Conservatives will use their party business in Holyrood this week to focus on the “crisis” of classroom violence in Scotland’s schools.

They will accuse the SNP of presiding over 16 years of failure in Scottish education, with resources stretched to breaking point and teachers operating under intolerable strain as classroom violence has spiralled out of control.

There have been 75,198 physical and verbal attacks on teachers and school staff since 2017-2018, with 22,000 in 2021-2022.

Dangerous weapons were seized from school pupils almost 200 times in the past year alone.

Former EIS president Heather Hughes has suggested that these incidents are on the rise because teachers and young people are not getting the support that they urgently need.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Kerr will urge the SNP-Green Government to produce a comprehensive plan that will tackle this “national scandal”.

Alongside party colleagues, he will call for the creation of a School Violence Working Group involving all relevant stakeholders to tackle the issue, and promote acceptable classroom behaviour.

The debate will also urge minsters to review current exclusion policies and to explore whether alternative educational provision would be suitable for repeat offenders.

Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for education Stephen Kerr MSP, said: “The escalation of violent incidents in schools in recent years is nothing short of a national scandal.

“The SNP have taken their eye off the ball on this issue and violent incidents have soared as a result. Only earlier this month we saw a shocking incident at Johnstone High School where three teachers had to be rushed to hospital.

“The Scottish Conservatives are using our party business on Wednesday to urge ministers to produce a comprehensive plan to address this crisis of violence which has become endemic in our schools.

“We will urge the setting up of a School Violence Working Group as well as a review of current exclusion policies would be positive steps forward to get on top of this serious issue.

“Ministers must also provide parents and schools with guidance, materials and support that would assist them in promoting acceptable behaviour and tackling disruption.

“If education really is the SNP’s number one priority, then they will back the calls made by the Scottish Conservatives during our debate, to ensure that everyone in our schools is free from the risk of their learning being disrupted by violence.”

 

Notes

  • There were more than 22,000 attacks on school teachers and staff in 2021-2022. Scotland's teachers have been attacked 22,507 times in the past year. (Daily Record, 4 December 2022, link).
  • There were nearly 11,000 reports of school violence in primary schools in 2021-2022. In 2021-2022, there were 10,852 reports of violence against pupils and staff in primary schools. (Daily Record, 18 May 2023, link). 
  • There have been almost 75,000 verbal or physical attacks on school teachers and staff since 2017-18. Information gathered by the Scottish Conservatives reveals there have been at least 73,198 instances of verbal or physical abuse aimed at school teachers or staff since 2017-18. (Scottish Daily Express, 6 December 2022, link).

 

  • Recorded attacks on school teachers and staff has risen by 10% since 2018-19. In 2021-22 there was at least 19,517 verbal or physical attacks on school teachers and staff. This is almost 2,000 more than in 2018-19 where there were 17,602 attacks on teachers and school staff. (Scottish Daily Express, 6 December 2022, link).

 

  • Dangerous weapons seized from school pupils almost 200 times in the past year. Data reveals that between January 2022 and the 27 January 2023 there were 191 occasions where kids aged 7-16 were found to be carrying potentially dangerous items. (The Scottish Sun, 5 February 2023, link).

 

  • Increasing School violence is a result of a lack of classroom support for teachers according to the former EIS president. Former EIS President, Heather Hughes said: ‘Violent incidents are happening more and more in our schools because the young people and teachers are not getting the support they need to prevent them from happening’ (The Herald, 9 June 2022, link)

 

  • Teachers are made to feel they are to blame for increasing school violence to the former EIS president. Heather Hughes said: ‘Teachers often feel unsupported when reporting these issues. All too often they are made to feel that the blame lies with them and not with the lack of support for young people who are expressing their frustrations over the lack of appropriate’. (The Herald, 9 June 2022, link)

 

  • Teachers at an Aberdeen School voted to strike over school violence. Teachers at Northfield Academy have voted to strike as result of pupil violence. (BBC News, 23 November 2022, link).

 

  • Teachers at a Glasgow high school voted to hold 12 days of strike action over violent and abusive pupil behaviour. Teachers at Bannerman High School have voted to hold 12 days of strikes with the first day the 24th November and then 11 more days to in the run -up to the Christmas holidays. (BBC News, 10 November 2022, link).
  • The number of exclusions decreased by over 60% between 2007-08 and 2018-19. The number of exclusions has decreased from     39,717 in 2007-08 to 14,990 in 2018-19. (School Exclusions, 15 March 2022, link).