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Savage students: More teachers in England have fallen victim to violence

A new study has found that almost one in five teachers in England have been hit by a pupil, demonstrating that student’s behaviour is ‘getting worse’.  

The research, which was commissioned by the BBC, found that since the Covid-19 pandemic violence and abuse from students has gotten severely worse.

boy in gray sweater beside boy in gray and white plaid dress shirt

To conduct the study, of which the results were published yesterday, experts used the survey tool Teacher App, where 9,000 teachers in England were asked about their experiences of behaviour in the classroom from February to March 2024.

The results found that:

  • 30% of all teachers said they had witnessed pupils fighting during the week they responded to the questions
  • Two in five respondents said they had witnessed aggressively violent behaviour that needed an intervention in a single week
  • 15% of secondary teachers said they have experienced sexual harassment from a pupil when working at school

Overall, a greater proportion of primary and secondary school teachers reported pupils fighting, pushing, and shoving compared to two years ago.

Findings from the survey have come as a surprise as the government have previously invested funds to better pupils behaviour. Back in 2020, the Department for Education (DfE) launched a £10m behaviour hub programme to allow hundreds of struggling schools to be paired with others to learn new ways of dealing with poor behaviour.

However, this particular scheme is set to finish this year.

In response to the new research, a spokesperson from the DfE said authorities have doubled its mental health and wellbeing scheme for head teachers this year, which has been backed by a £1.1m investment.

As well as helping to support teachers, the DfE has also stated that ‘decisive action’ is being taken to better students’ behaviour.

News of this study has come just five days after the four-year anniversary of when the first lockdown for the pandemic was announced.

Against this backdrop, various studies have highlighted how students’ experience of school has never been the same. One example of this is findings that have been published by the charity Save the Children which show that almost 90% of teachers believe emotional and social delay they are seeing in classrooms is related to lockdown and remote learning.

The findings from the charity also include:

  • 80% of teachers said they have seen disadvantaged pupils fall behind their peers as a result of the pandemic
  • 78% of head teachers believe the UK government needs to invest in more covid catch-up funding for pupils beyond the £5bn already pledged
  • A mere 5% of teachers believe the current money for educational recovery has been effective

Image: Adam Winger

More on this topic:

Safety valve funding protects SEND in four more councils

Childline gets 40 calls a day from unhappy children

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