GMB, the trade union for school support staff, welcomes the introduction of a detailed policy for Swindon schools, which is designed to address the rising level of violence and abuse directed at school staff by pupils and parents.
Earlier this year GMB carried out a snapshot survey of school staff in Swindon that showed 42% of them had experienced violence from pupils during the preceding 18 months.
The snapshot survey also showed that in mainstream schools 25% had been spat at and 46% had suffered verbal abuse. In special schools for pupils who need additional support, 94% of staff had suffered violence. GMB initiated a survey of school support staff after a GMB member had their finger dislocated by an 8 year old pupil and felt the school’s response was inadequate.
Andy Newman, GMB branch secretary said:
“Following the survey, GMB were extremely concerned that 25% of staff reported they were afraid or apprehensive at work, but when they report incidents or concerns to schools management, half of our members reported that the response was inadequate. GMB felt that school leadership teams did not have sufficiently clear guidance on how to deal with violence and aggressive behaviour towards staff.
“We then held detailed discussions with Swindon Borough Council’s Health and Safety team, and we were surprised to discover that not only did Swindon borough council have no policy relating to violence against school staff, but we were unable to find any council in the country that had an adequate policy.
“GMB are delighted that Swindon Borough Council’s Health and safety team took the issue very seriously, and the new policy being rolled out to schools is a big step forward.
“The policy unambiguously states that violence, and aggressive and anti-social behaviour towards school staff is unacceptable, and sets out in detail the responsibilities of school governors, head teachers and other school managers, and of staff themselves, to manage and reduce risks.
“In line with health and safety best practice, not only should all incidents be reported, but for very serious incidents where there is a potential for a life changing injury, then “near misses” should also be reported. Schools should escalate serious incidents, and near misses, to the Swindon Borough Council health and safety team for support and advice.”