Saturday 29 April 2017

'Teachers being failed by the State over violent assaults'

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Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Teachers are subjected to violent assaults in schools, with black eyes "at the lower end of the scale of injuries".

They claim this is a result of the Government's failure to provide therapeutic supports for children and training for teachers on how to handle such situations.

One principal in a special school, who told how her teachers are forced to wear shin guards to protect themselves against attacks from children, revealed that no proper training was provided by the Department of Education for teachers.

The principal said the State was failing to protect the health and safety of its teachers.

Teachers in mainstream schools in "every corner of Ireland" were also experiencing aggressive behaviour, the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) Congress heard.

These incidents can include "verbal threats, shouting, screaming, kicking chairs, throwing furniture, self-injurious behaviours and violence towards others, the list goes on," said Brid Stack, from Cork city.

Teacher Jane Bastible, from Galway, described how teachers do all they can to prevent physical outbursts but sometimes distractions don't work on the child.

"I've been hurt, I've visited the doctor," she said, adding: "It is an unfortunate and daunting part of my school day."

Angela Leonard, principal of a special school in Dublin with 54 pupils with moderate to severe autism and who also all have a learning disability, told how her staff try to read and observe their pupils to see if they are sleep deprived or have low blood sugar, or are disturbed by other factors. However, some of the challenging behaviour was beyond control, she said.

Staff protect themselves as best they can, with protective clothing, shin guards and some wear a hat to protect themselves from hair pulling.

"There were 93 bites from one child in 12 weeks," she told the congress.

Irish Independent

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