GMB call on councils and schools to sign violence prevention charter
GMB call on councils and schools to sign GMB charter to help prevent violence in schools as 1,594 cases of physical assault against support staff reported in 13 councils
By signing up to the GMB Charter, headteachers and councils would send a clear message, that violence in schools in any shape or form will not be tolerated, says GMB London
GMB, the union for school support staff, have called on councils and schools to sign a charter of key demands to help prevent violence against support staff in schools.
Violence against school support staff is on the rise, and GMB members have reported that they have been punched, spat at, kicked and suffered intimidating verbal and sexual abuse.
Results from 13 Freedom of Information requests carried out by GMB London Region have shown that there have been 455 cases of support staff being physically assaulted by pupils in Hertfordshire County Council, as well as 16 cases of verbal abuse and 56 cases of physical and verbal abuse. In Havering there have been 279 cases of physical assault, and in Southend-on-Sea there have been 126 cases of physical assault and 68 cases of verbal abuse.
Responses from Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Councils showed that they have had 150 and 152 cases of physical assault respectively, with Suffolk also having 28 cases of physical and verbal abuse. In Tower Hamlets there have been 111 physical assaults, 52 cases of verbal abuse and 32 cases of both. In Ealing there have been 108 cases of both physical and verbal abuse, with Hounslow, Haringey, Camden and Harrow councils also showing a significant number of cases of physical assault by pupils on support staff.
The charter from the GMB demands that…
· All staff are treated fairly & equally, regardless of perceived status/grade.
· Negotiated & agreed policies & procedures are used to reduce the risk of violence as much as possible.
· Absence for a work-related incident should not be counted towards sickness reviews.
· All staff are consulted on violence issues, not just teachers.
· Serious incidents suffered by any staff member are reported, so trends can be analysed & hotspots identified.
· All school leaders acknowledge that violence presents a risk to the school workforce & a source of stress.
· Feedback is given after every report made, even if only to confirm the incident has been logged.
· All school assess the risk of violence both within school premises & for all external activities.
· Sanctions are issued whenever aggressive incidents occur.
· Performance is regularly monitored & reviewed & the lessons learned & shared from all significant incidents.
· Sufficient time is given for recovery when incidents occur & counselling & support provided where needed.
· Personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided where required.
Keith Williams, GMB Senior Organiser said:
"The responses received to date from councils, who keep records on the number of incidences reported by LEA schools of support staff who have been subjected to physical and verbal assault whilst carrying out their role is the tip of the iceberg.
“It is clear that if all councils and schools kept a record of all incidences of physical and verbal assaults that support staff have suffered, then the figures would be much greater, and clearly show what support staff have to face on a regular basis.
“For councils and schools who do not keep statistics on physical and verbal assaults, suggests, that they are in denial of the increasing levels of violence that are taking place in schools, to the extent that violence towards support staff is acceptable and part and parcel of the job.
“These initial figures, reinforce the GMB call for all councils and schools to sign up to GMB’s code of conduct to ensure attacks on school support staff when they happen, are dealt with properly.
"School support staff care passionately about the role they undertake within schools and want to carry on doing their best for the children, however, all they are asking is that when they have been subjected to physical or verbal assault, that the school will support them and take a common sense approach to protect them.
“By signing up to the GMB Charter, headteachers and councils would send a clear message, that violence in schools in any shape or form will not be tolerated, and would demonstrate that they are fully backing support staff, and that they would take appropriate measures when staff have been subjected to this behaviour.”
Contact: Keith Williams 07710 631 339 or GMB London Press Office 07970 114 762