Reports of assaults on staff have increased by almost 1000 per cent since 2018, a Freedom of Information request by Falkirk Conservatives has highlighted.
The FOI revealed that between April 2017 and March 2018, there were 95 reported incidents – including verbal abuse and physical assault – on teachers and staff members. Between April 2021 and March 2022, however, this had risen to 940 reported assaults – an increase of 989 per cent.
The figures show that from April 2021 to March 2022, 615 assaults were reported in Falkirk primary schools and 325 in secondary.
The council said the rise was linked to a new system of reporting assaults.
A separate FOI however, revealed that 276 members of staff in Falkirk’s schools had been signed off with stress or poor mental health in the 2021/2022 academic year.
Conservative councillor James Bundy is now urging Falkirk Council to take urgent action to investigate this “significant increase” and put a plan in place to reduce it.
Councillor Bundy raised the issue at a meeting of Falkirk Council’s education, children and young people’s executive today (Tuesday).
He criticised the director of children’s services, Robert Naylor, for telling councillors at a previous committee meeting that he was “not aware of any significant increase in violence by pupils towards teachers in Falkirk at all”.
Mr Bundy told the meeting that the director had given an answer “that does not stand up to the facts”. Speaking after the debate, Mr Bundy said: “The figures I received showed that between April 2017 and March 2018, there was an assault against teachers and staff members every second day in Falkirk’s classrooms. This is not an ‘odd incident’.
“Between April 2021 and March 2022, however, there were 4.95 assaults per day in Falkirk’s school. This is certainly not an ‘odd incident’. With an increase of 989 per cent in the rate of assault of teachers and staff members in five years, then there can be no other way to describe this other than a ‘significant increase’.
“Falkirk Council must take urgent action to investigate this significant increase in violence against teachers and come up with a deliverable plan to seriously reduce this number.”
Mr Naylor replied that his understanding was that the question had been asked in relation to media reports of incidents in both Glasgow and Aberdeen, “which had referred to quite serious physical attacks on teachers”.
He added: “My answer therefore reflected that to my knowledge such incidents had not been reported to me in Falkirk schools.”
He said that the FOI data reflected a new system of reporting assaults that includes any and all incidences of assault which includes verbal abuse and harassment as well as physical assault.
Mr Naylor promised to go and look at the data and break it down in order to report back to councillors.