Teachers wearing protective gear against assaults by pupils

INTO conference hears of kicking, biting, punching, throwing furniture and verbal threats

Several teachers said  training colleges did not provide guidance in dealing with assaults and  the Department of Education had not issued guidelines.

Several teachers said training colleges did not provide guidance in dealing with assaults and the Department of Education had not issued guidelines.

 

Teachers are wearing protective gear to school to defend themselves from physical assaults by pupils and the Department of Education has failed to protect them, delegates heard on the closing day of the Irish National Teachers Organisation conference in Belfast.

Kicking, biting, screaming, shouting, throwing furniture and verbal threats happen in both mainstream and special primary and post-primary schools across Ireland, said Bríd Stack, a teacher from Cork city.

The children involved may have emotional difficulties, including autistic spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, ADHD, ADD or oppositional defiance disorder, and some may be experiencing homelessness or serious family problems.

Several teachers said that training colleges did not provide guidance in dealing with assaults and that the Department of Education had not issued guidelines or provided supports for special needs children.

Bigger and stronger

Jane Bastible, a teacher from Galway who works with 15-16 year-olds in a special school, said many of the pupils were “bigger and stronger than me, and my colleagues and I have been at the receiving end of assaults”.

“I have been kicked, hit with open and closed fists, been pushed and had furniture thrown at me. I have had cuts and bruises and had to go to doctors. Our right to a safe working environment is compromised on a daily basis,” she said.

“We use low arousal techniques, moving away from the pupil and also distraction, but these don’t always work. This is a daunting part of my school day. We need intervention, but I have had no formal training as to how to deal with these attacks. I am at a loss as to how to deal with these attacks.”