Claim of regular student attacks on teachers
TUI conference told escalation in violence is linked to a growing gang culture in schools
In affected schools, teacher absenteeism is rocketing as staff are afraid to come work
Teachers are being brought to hospital in ambulances after being seriously assaulted by students in a number of disadvantaged schools, delegates on the final day of the Teachers Union of Ireland conference in Kilkenny have claimed.
Teachers linked the escalation in violence to a growing gang culture in schools, which is leading to criminality both inside and outside the school gates. The problem has grown over the past two years, they say, and school managers and principals are often failing to deal with it.
Teachers have suffered broken bones, chipped teeth and kicks to the face from their students, while some pregnant teachers have been punched and pushed. Several have required months of physiotherapy. Many are regularly spat at and verbal abuse is common.
In affected schools, teacher absenteeism is rocketing as staff are afraid to come work. Many schools are breaching the law by failing to implement proper safety procedures, according to Audrey Cepeda, a member of the Dublin city TUI branch.
“School managers are making teachers feel that the problem lies with their inability to control the class, but the problems go deeper than that,”she said.
The problem was affecting teachers, particularly in areas of social and economic deprivation, and it had worsened in the last two years. Ms Cepeda emphasised that some schools were dealing with the issue quite effectively.
June Coughlan, who also teaches in Dublin city, said teachers were on the front line dealing with the social problems caused by cutbacks.
“The cutbacks have made life difficult for young people who are supposed to be receiving an education and they feel neglected. No matter how liberal or understanding a teacher may be, they see us as the first point of contact with the machine. We face appalling working conditions on a daily basis, with countless members subjected to abuse, intimidation and violence every day.” Ms Coughlan called on the HSE to investigate.
Several teachers claimed that the reduction in guidance counselling services since 2012 had exacerbated the situation.