Wigan teachers under attack

Assaults on teachers are up
Assaults on teachers are up

Attacks on Wigan teaching staff by pupils are on the rise, but schools are “doing a great job” in handling the situation, council bosses have said.

Figures obtained via the Freedom of Information Act show that 342 pupils have been excluded as a result of physical assaults on adults in school since 2015 - 63 per cent of the total number of school exclusions recorded in the same time period (546).

There were 128 such incidents in the 2017/18 academic year, compared to 123 in 2016/17. This was a considerable increase from 91 incidents in 2015/16.

Details of the incidents, such as the type of attack in each instance such as punching, biting, kicking, were not disclosed, nor were the identities of any specific schools where incidents had taken place.

But Wiganers know all too well how attacks can turn to tragedy.

Four years ago Scholes-born teacher Ann Maguire was stabbed to death in her Leeds classroom by a crazed pupil.

It was the first such murder in modern times and it shocked the nation.

The teacher assault figures in the borough, however, are relatively low as a percentage of the 47,111 pupils on roll at all borough schools.

Alan Lindsay, Wigan Council’s assistant director for children’s services, was quick to praise the borough’s schools for responding to a “very complex position.”

“There has been an increase in these incidents, but historically they wouldn’t ever have been reported, say 20 years ago,” he said.

“There are not predetermined attacks, these pupils don’t go in planning them. They will be responding to a challenge from a member of staff or a pupil.

“Sometimes it is an outburst of frustration or anger. Some pupils have complex needs, so we need to recognise that. Something else we need to recognise is the significant pressure, sometimes they (pupils) live with increased pressure at home and at school. Sometimes that frustration can boil over for them. But this is a very small number of pupils.”

He added: “It is absolutely paramount for schools to make sure they have systems and processes in place, and schools will have behaviour policies in place to support children.

“We are dealing with something that is a national pressure. The key thing is that we recognise this is a pressure, we are not hiding that. But schools in Wigan are doing a great job. They are in a very changing and complex position, but they are responding well to it.”

Lisa Morgan, services manager for standards and learning at Wigan Council, spoke about the support from the town hall that was available to both pupils and staff.

“Schools are doing some incredible work for support for children,” she said.

“We have an educational psychology service that is very strong.

“Schools have pastoral officers that deal with their families as well. Our schools are very strong in really understanding the background and circumstances of individual children.”

Lisa added: “Supporting children early on in primary schools has led to a reduction (in assaults) in secondary schools.

“Services are working well together for the children.”

Assault figures:

Year 2015/16:

Number of pupils excluded for asaults on staff: 91.

High school: 27

Primary School: 43

Special schools: 21

Year 2016/17:

Number of pupils excluded of assaults on staff: 123.

High school: 41

Primary School: 52

Special schools: 30

Year 2017/18:

Number of pupils excluded for assaults on staff: 128

High school: 45

Primary School: 68

Special school: 15