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Schools warned violence will drive out skilled and committed staff

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Escalating violence in Scotland’s schools will drive out talented and committed staff without urgent action, according to GMB Scotland.

The union warned classroom assistants and other support workers are facing as much if not more physical and verbal abuse than teachers with many on the brink of leaving.

A survey of GMB Scotland members working in school support roles last year revealed one in five report violence as a daily issue while warning 60% of incidents are never recorded.

GMB Scotland delegate Karen Dennis told the STUC congress in Dundee on Tuesday that level of threats and assaults endured by support staff is intolerable and demands urgent, practical and effective action.

Dennis said: “Without more safeguards and better reporting and investigation, our schools will lose excellent staff along with their skills and experience.

“They are working to give our young Scots the best possible education and life chances but everyone has a breaking point.

“Only urgent action and greater protection will stop many of our members reaching theirs.”

The crisis is Scotland-wide with GMB members in Aberdeen currently campaigning for more training, better protection and improved reporting procedures months after staff in the Highlands  called for similar action in the region’s schools.

Dennis said: “Pupil support assistants are paid less than teachers but are often bearing the brunt of abuse and violence.

“No one should be asked to leave for work fearing physical or verbal abuse and return relieved if they are unharmed.”

GMB Scotland is calling for more training for staff, more rigorous reporting procedures to ensure every incident is recorded, and more effective action in response to violence and verbal abuse.

Dennis said: “More responsibility is being placed on our members to support some of the most challenging pupils but employers have failed to even properly record the threats and assaults.

“Our members are still waiting for official advice and guidance on how to deal with violent incidents never mind effective and adequate protection.”