Union president in appeal to halt schools violence

Union president in appeal to halt schools violence

10 April 2019

A LOCAL teacher has welcomed police efforts towards combatting growing levels of violence in the classroom.

Carney Cumper, vice-principal of Killyleagh Integrated Primary school and president of the Ulster Teachers’ Union, said the PSNI were working with teachers to halt the “obscene levels of violence” which teachers were encountering on a daily basis.

She warned that the violence would have to stop before there was a tragedy.

Mrs Cumper warned that everyone “coming to the gates of any school should be aware that violence against staff will not be tolerated and where it arises, the police will be involved.” 

She said: The incidences we encounter in our profession are horrifying and in any other setting would trigger an immediate response yet teachers are expected to take it as part of their job, regardless of the impact it has on their mental and physical well-being.

“One teacher was told by a seven-year old that he would ‘stab her pregnant belly’ because he didn’t want to do literacy.

“In another incident a senior teacher of 30 years’ experience was pinned to a wall studded with coat hooks by a P7 boy simply because he got in his way.”

She said that in another incident a pregnant teacher, with two physically and verbally abusive children in her P2 class, was told there was no funding for extra help and she would just have to hold the boys’ hands at all times to ensure they were behaving.

Mrs Crumper said: “She had 28 other children in the class – of whom ten had individual education plans because of their special educational needs.

“So these are the realities behind the headlines when the public sees teachers asking for help and highlighting their growing fears about violence in the classroom.

“What’s happening in the classroom today is on an entirely different level and teachers feel they are being increasingly scapegoated and isolated.

“They are expected to embrace the well-intentioned ‘inclusion’ policy of educating all children together, including those with special educational and behavioural needs, yet they’re not being given the funding or training to support this.

A police spokesman said: ”Abuse of any kind whether physical, verbal or online is unacceptable, and police officers are committed to investigating offences, supporting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.

“We are mindful of the impact that abuse can have on family and work life.

“We would therefore encourage any member of teaching and teaching support staff who has been subjected to abuse to report it to police.”