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Unison says classroom violence brunt borne by teaching assistants

Teaching assistants are bearing the brunt of violence in the classroom, with most suffering or witnessing attacks, a new survey has revealed.

A survey of over 14,500 members of Unison across the UK showed that most of the violence was from pupils.

Just over half of teaching assistants said they had experienced physical violence in the past year, while three out of four had witnessed incidents.

Unison said its study showed that teaching assistants were facing a "barrage" of verbal threats and abuse in their job.

The union's head of education, Jon Richards, said the report painted a "grim picture" of how spending cuts were affecting school support staff.

He said: "Lessons couldn't go ahead without teaching assistants and staff should not have to put up with violence and abuse in the classroom. These are not just occasional incidents.

"Abuse is becoming a regular and alarming occurrence with more than half of teaching assistants coming across violent behaviour in the classroom, the playground or at the school gates.

"A lack of resources means schools are unable to address behavioural issues. Dealing with these problems can dominate the day when time could be better spent supporting children's learning."

Unison called on school governors and head teachers to do more to manage the behaviour of unruly and disruptive pupils to minimise the impact in the classroom, and to provide full support to staff encountering violence.

The Department for Education said Education Secretary Nicky Morgan had addressed the issue at the annual conference of the NASUWT over Easter, saying: "I want to be absolutely clear, that no teacher should ever have to work in fear of violence or harassment, either in school, outside of school, or online.

"Teachers are the pinnacle of the community, they are charged with the greatest of responsibilities, moulding the next generation, and that means we owe it to you to treat you with the greatest of respect.

"Yes, I absolutely want parents to be involved in their children's education and if they're unhappy I want them to be able to demand more of schools. But if their actions spill over into abuse or violence, they should expect to be dealt with severely. Because there is never an excuse to threaten, harass or attack a teacher."

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