Rona Mackay made the remarks as she addressed a fringe event organised by the NASUWT teaching union at the SNP’s conference in Edinburgh yesterday. Union leaders had been setting out concerns about indiscipline problems in the classroom.
John Swinney later defended the SNP’s record on education as he told delegates that standards in Scotland’s classrooms are on the rise and the attainment gap between affluent and poorer areas is closing.
Jane Peckham, national officer for Scotland, at the NASUWT, told the fringe meeting that a staggering 87 per cent of its members say there is a “widespread problem” of indiscipline in schools.
“That’s gone up massively, even in the last year,” she said.
“There’s clearly something going on. Seventy-one per cent say they’re considering leaving the profession,” she said.
“We have a meeting with John Swinney next week. We’re having to use industrial action to have an issue taken seriously. This is an unacceptable position.”
She added: “There comes a point where being kicked in the head, spat at, told to eff off – and the sanction is being taken to McDonald’s for lunch – trashing classrooms, beating each other up... what is it we are supposed to do?
“We can’t have a situation where our members, on a daily basis, are going to work and facing this abuse.”
Mackay, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s education committee, told delegates that violence against teachers is “unacceptable.”
She added: “The stats are absolutely shocking and the fact there has been a rise can’t be underestimated.
“Stress levels must be through the roof,” she added.
“I would not do your job for all the money in the world with existing pressures and rising pressures.”
But Swinney defended the SNP’s education record as he set out a “progress report” on the party’s achievements during a keynote speech to party delegates yesterday afternoon.
“Attainment overall is up,” he said.
He highlighted an increase in exam passes. “Last year, for the first time ever, more than 30 per cent of pupils achieved at least five passes at Higher level or better – up from 22.2 per cent in 2009/10.
“And the poverty related attainment gap is narrowing.
“The gap between those from the most and least deprived areas achieving a Higher or better has reduced for the 8th successive year and is now at a record low.
“Standards up, the attainment gap closing. That’s the SNP record on education.”