A summit organised by the Scottish Government on Wednesday revealed a disturbing increase in misogynistic abuse and physical attacks targeting teachers in Scottish schools. The emergency meeting, chaired by Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth, brought together teachers, unions, parents, and child experts to address the escalating violence.
During the summit, shocking accounts of assaults were shared, shedding light on the alarming incidents occurring within classrooms across Scotland. Mike Corbett, NASUWT Scotland officer, relayed the experiences of their members, which ranged from being pelted with rocks to suffering physical assaults while attempting to break up fights, as well as enduring misogynistic abuse. The summit served as a platform for educators to voice their concerns and seek government action to protect teachers and students from the violence and abusive behaviour of a small but disruptive segment of young individuals.
The focus of the summit was to explore interventions and strategies that the Scottish Government can implement to tackle the growing epidemic of youth violence by addressing behavioural issues and fostering healthy relationships. The first phase of the meeting, held the previous month, concentrated on the reporting and monitoring of incidents within classrooms.
Startling statistics revealed that violence incidents in primary schools surged to nearly 11,000 in the academic year 2021/22, marking a 56% increase compared to the previous year—a trend that coincided with the onset of the pandemic. In secondary schools, reports of violent incidents rose from 1,544 in 2020/21 to 2,951 in the following year, indicating another significant escalation.
A survey conducted by the GMB shed further light on the dire situation, with one in six support staff admitting to experiencing violence on a daily basis in Scottish schools. Additionally, one in three support staff revealed being subjected to attacks on a weekly basis, with incidents ranging from physical assault to being punched, kicked, and spat on.
Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth emphasised the importance of collaborative efforts between teachers, children’s organisations, parents, and stakeholders within the education sector to develop effective solutions for improving behaviour and ensuring safer school environments. The constructive input provided by all participants was acknowledged and appreciated in the pursuit of addressing this pressing issue.
The summit served as a platform to raise awareness of the escalating violence within Scottish schools and to urge decisive action to protect teachers, promote a respectful learning environment, and safeguard the well-being of students and staff members alike.