Children as young as three have been disciplined for assaults on nursery school staff in Dundee.
Figures obtained from a Freedom of Information response reveal 50 children at city nurseries have been accused of verbal or physical attacks on staff in the past five years.
In the same period, pupils under 11 have attacked staff at Dundee primary schools on 1,601 occasions.
There were 203 assaults by pupils at city secondary schools and 4,556 “reported incidents” against teachers in special education schools – where incidents are recorded differently.
Teaching officials said yesterday they were working to prevent such incidents.
Colin Coupar, regional organiser for Unite, which represents some staff in schools, said: “The statistics from nurseries make you wonder what constitutes assault – three and four-year-olds can’t really be held responsible for that.
“I think it starts with looking at what kind of environment these kids are coming from – what are they seeing on TV and what is going on at home. You can’t condone this type of behaviour. Staff in schools should be able to work without the threat of violence. We have to take steps to understand why it is occurring in young kids.”
David Baxter, secretary of the Dundee EIS branch that represents teachers, said: “We monitor these numbers with the local authority and are working to bring these numbers down. No worker should expect to turn up to work and be assaulted.”
In the academic year 2010-11, there were eight exclusions in Dundee schools as a result of incidents that involved a pupil attacking a member of staff with an improvised weapon.
A further 260 pupils were excluded for verbally abusing staff.
In 2011-12 the number of attacks on staff with an improvised weapon dropped. The following school year, seven people were excluded for assaults with an improvised weapon in city schools and a further 41 for assaults against staff without a weapon.
At least one pupil was excluded for assaulting staff with an improvised weapon or an offensive weapon in 2013-14 and 2014-15. So far this year, there have been 12 pupils excluded for assaults on staff.