The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said that a fall in the number of teachers, specialist support staff and educational psychologists are making it more difficult for schools to deal with badly behaved children.
The union is currently gathering information on indiscipline from teachers around the country to help inform future EIS policy on the issue.
It found that most incidents are “low-level” in nature, such as talking or texting in class, but that dealing with them can take up far too much of a teacher’s time during the school week.
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EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said that continuing cuts to education budgets and staffing levels have had an impact on the levels of support available to tackle indiscipline in many schools.
He said: “Reductions in staffing - including a decline in teacher numbers, deep cuts to specialist support staff, and the fall in the number of professional educational psychologists - are exacerbating the problems that many schools face in supporting pupils who have displayed challenging behaviour.
“With teacher numbers falling and class sizes rising, schools and teachers will face an ever-greater challenge in maintaining effective discipline in the classroom.
“That is bad news for staff, with indiscipline one of the key causes of stress for teachers, and bad news for the majority of pupils who are keen to learn.”
The EIS found that the majority of pupils are normally well behaved, but that a “persistent minority” often fail to behave appropriately.
It said that it is essential for all schools to have effective strategies in place to support teachers as they deal with poor discipline.
On the issue of violence against teachers it said that a swift response is needed.
Mr Flanagan said: “Thankfully, serious disruption and violence continue to be a much less common problem than persistent low-level disruption such as talking out of turn or texting in class.
“However, it is essential that when serious incidents do occur, they are dealt with swiftly and firmly - including police involvement where a teacher has been physically assaulted or placed under severe threat.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Clearly any form of violence or abuse towards pupils or staff is totally unacceptable. As indicated by the EIS, the overwhelming majority of pupils in Scotland’s schools are generally well-behaved.
“However, we continue to work with schools, local authorities and through curriculum programmes to reduce instances of bad behaviour and violence at school even further.”
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