West Lothian teachers’ survey reveals staff assaults

Teaching union EIS has warned councillors that West Lothian teachers are suffering assaults in local schools.
Teaching union EIS has warned councillors that West Lothian teachers are suffering assaults in local schools.

A survey of teachers in West Lothian has revealed “ absolutely shocking” results of daily assaults on staff – a teaching union has claimed.

Speaking to West Lothian Council’s Partnership and Resources PDSP, the EIS, Scotland’s largest teaching  union’s, local secretary Heather Hughes said she would be passing on results of the survey carried out among staff in West Lothian schools.

“The results are absolutely shocking, there are teachers who are physically hurt on a daily basis. What are you going to do to keep us safe?”

She added that an NHS survey on teacher stress recently published revealed “ teachers are suffering so much stress it is having a massive effect on the young people in our classrooms”.

She said:  “These are things we would very much like our human resources to take very seriously for us.”

Julie Whitelaw, head of corporate services,  who had earlier revealed high levels of stress among council staff, said there were Scottish Government policies designed to help teaching staff  take themselves out of danger. These policies are being rolled out across the county. 

“There is training available for all staff including teachers to take themselves out of danger,” she said.

Ms Whitelaw added that regular meetings were held with teaching staff,  HR, school managers and staff representatives to discuss incidents of violence in schools and classroom safety.

Ms Hughes said this training is  known as MAPA (Management of Actual or Potential Aggression), adding: “At present only special education schools and one cluster have been trained.

“There is a plan on rolling this out but it is exceptionally expensive and  I’m afraid at the moment our staff are absolutely not trained in removing themselves from the situation.” 

Welcoming some measures put in place to deal with workplace and personal stress, she added: “The idea is prevention. We really need to look at the reasons behind stress.

“We have workload, we have violence and aggression and we have a lack of ASN resources. These are areas we should be looking at.”

Chairing the meeting, council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: “You can have our assurance that the well-being of staff is paramount among all elected members and that the matter will be looked at.”