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Teachers call out rape threats as poll says 13% physically assaulted by pupils

09 Apr 2023 4 minute read
School pupils, image by David Jones, PA Images

Teachers have called for action on homophobia and rape threats as a survey suggests more than one in 10 teachers have been physically assaulted by a pupil in the last year.

Nearly half (48%) of teachers surveyed said they do not feel that their school’s behaviour policy is effective and “fit for purpose”, according to a poll by the NASUWT teaching union.

The survey, of 8,466 NASUWT members in the UK in March, suggests that 13% of teachers have been physically assaulted by a pupil in the last year.

At the teaching union’s annual conference in Glasgow on Sunday, teachers told how they had also been subjected to racism, sexual assault and physical assaults including being kicked at, bitten, punched and slapped by pupils.

Meanwhile, the survey said more than one in four (28%) of teachers said they have been subjected to verbal abuse by a parent or carer during the last year.

As delegates debated a motion on Sunday which suggested assaults are seen as a “normal part of teaching” in too many schools, Bristol-based teacher Wendy Exton urged the union to take a stand.

The teacher of 28 years, the last 14 of which have been in alternative provision, said: “The continual abuse directed at myself, and I’m not alone here, takes its toll on your wellbeing.

“It’s simply another stress that we do not need. Not only are we subjected to derogatory language, but racism and homophobic language and more recently threats of rape, sexual assault, being stabbed or even threats to harm family members.”

Online pornography

Ms Exton also said threats of sexual assault are becoming “increasingly common” due to the rise of online pornography, exacerbated by the Covid-19 lockdown.

“We need to gain back control and spread the message that verbal and physical violence will not be tolerated and that as a union we will take action when employers refuse to deal with violence and abuse in their schools.”

Teachers have been subjected to pushing/shoving (22%), threats of physical assault (19%) and verbal abuse (58%) by pupils during the last year, according to the survey.

A teacher who responded to the survey said: “I regularly had a child that would throw chairs at me, threaten to kill me and my family. Say he was going to stab me.”

Another said: “I was upskirted. I have had an unknown substance sprayed in my face. I have been verbally abused and shoved several times.”

Another respondent said: “I’ve been spat at, swore at, pushed, punched, kicked. I’ve been called a hole for the lads to shove their dicks in. I’ve had two Year 11 boys trap me in my room and threaten to go through my things.”

Fail to protect

Among the teachers who said they had experienced abuse from a parent or pupil, more than one in three (36%) said they did not feel their school dealt with the issue satisfactorily.

The motion, which was unanimously agreed by delegates, said the union is worried that employers are “failing” in their duties to protect teachers by either not completing risk assessments or seeing them as a paper exercise.

It added that the union is concerned that many school leaders are “not given sufficient guidance in the completion of risk assessments for violent pupils”.

Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “No teacher should have to go to work expecting to suffer from physical or verbal abuse by pupils.

“Employers have a statutory duty to carry out effective risk assessments – they cannot simply choose to ignore or underestimate the dangers of violent pupils.

“Where employers do fail to protect our members from aggression and violence, we will take them on and act to support and protect our members by any means necessary.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

These kids are killing each other on a daily basis, why is that I wonder…something to do with the country they live in perhaps…

hdavies15
hdavies15
10 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Maybe it’s rotten from top to bottom. Government sets a bad example but so do public figures and the celebs that everybody seem to admire. Nearer home, family life is often abusive so pupils take that trashy set of values with them when they go to school. There is a vein of scum running through all levels of this nation and wider UK. How we solve it is beyond me, thinking too deeply about it brings me dangerously close to a rabid reactionary place, but trying to be nice and tolerant doesn’t seem to have worked out well either. .

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Amen to that hd

ONS says knife crime has shot up under the Tories especially since the Fat Shanks effect has become the norm…

Last edited 10 months ago by Mab Meirion
Mr Williams
Mr Williams
10 months ago

A lot of the problem is weak management in schools. Management allowing the ‘smaller issues’ to go unchallenged, which means that the bigger issues are festering. For example, recently, I was told to “F off” by a pupil who stormed out of the class. I reported this to our deputy head, who couldn’t be bothered to deal with it – telling me to pass it to someone else. How are classroom teachers supposed to deal with behavioural issues if highly paid management can’t be bothered? If they deal with the smaller issues more effectively, the bigger issues will become rarer.… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by Mr Williams

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