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Education workers urge schools and councils to back safety charter

A GMB Freedom of Information request found 1,594 physical assaults on school support staff since January 2017

EDUCATION workers urged local schools and councils today to add their weight to a union charter aimed at ending violence against school staff by pupils.

Between January 2017 and November 2018 1,594 physical assaults were carried out by pupils against school support staff across 13 local education authorities (LEAs), a Freedom of Information request by the GMB union has revealed.

GMB members working in the education sector have complained to their union about being punched, kicked, spat on and being at the receiving end of verbal and sexual intimidation in the workplace.

The union warned numbers have been rising every year in recent times and have called on councils and schools to sign a charter to help prevent violence.

In Hertfordshire there were 455 cases of support workers being physically assaulted last year along with 56 cases of physical and verbal abuse.

In Havering, 279 workers have reported being physically assaulted, while in Southend-on-Sea there have been 126 cases of physical attacks on staff.

In Tower Hamlets in London there have been 112 physical assaults, 52 cases of verbal abuse and 32 cases of both.

The union’s charter demands that all staff receive fair treatment in the workplace and commits employers to moving forward with policies that can feasibly reduce violence.

The charter also calls on employers to acknowledge that anxiety caused by workplace violence is a source of stress to workers and pledge that trends of violence in schools will be identified.

GMB senior organiser Keith Williams said that the LEA responses are the “tip of the iceberg.

“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.

“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.”

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