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One in 10 school principals suffer attack by parents

By Lindsay Fergus

More than one in 10 headteachers have been attacked by a parent of a pupil at their school, according to figures released today.

School principals, including those in Northern Ireland have been punched, kicked, spat on, headbutted, bitten, attacked with chairs and tables and sexually assaulted, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said.

In a survey, almost 75% of those quizzed said they had suffered verbal abuse or threats from a parent in the last five years.

Some 20% have been victimised on a social networking site and more than 68% said parents' behaviour towards teachers has worsened over time.

Headteachers polled said that in some cases parents have turned up at school drunk or on drugs.

The NAHT (NI) hit out at the Department of Education in |January for dragging its feet on establishing a policy statement on tackling violence against teachers.

At the time it said it was concerned that despite all the assurances it had received from the department in the past, “attacks on staff are still not being centrally collected and collated”.

It has taken the department more than two years to finalise guidance for schools on how to tackle violent behaviour and offer support to teachers.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “Policy-makers must be aware that school leaders are not faceless bureaucrats who must be exposed to the public to help them ‘shape up'.

“They live and work in the cities, towns and villages that they serve. They meet parents daily inside and outside school and they are instantly recognisable.

“The vast majority of families are a pleasure to work with, but not all. Emotions run high when children are involved. School leaders often have to make difficult |decisions about discipline, exclusions, holidays and the distribution of limited budgets.

“Many come under unacceptable pressure designed to effect undue influence on them. All are dedicated to doing what is best for the children in their care. Some pay a high personal cost for this.”

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