Monday 11 December 2017

Teacher Tracey Whyte tells union AGM how she has been head-butted, spat at, kicked in head and had fire extinguisher thrown at her in classroom

Tracey Whyte, Monaghan attending the INTO annual Congress at the West County Hotel, Ennis on Wednesday. Photograph by Eamon Ward
Tracey Whyte, Monaghan attending the INTO annual Congress at the West County Hotel, Ennis on Wednesday. Photograph by Eamon Ward

Gordon Deegan

ONE school teacher told how she has been head-butted, spat at, kicked in the head and had a fire extinguisher thrown at her while in the classroom.

On the final day of the INTO congress in Ennis, Clones native Tracey Whyte told delegates that in the current school year, she has suffered 20 physical assaults with a total of 60 serious assaults against staff at her school. Ms Whyte is a teacher at a Dublin school for children with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties.

She said: "I have been head-butted in the face on more than one occasion, punched in the nose and face; received a kick to the head more than once, been thumped in the arms; kicked in the legs and repeatedly punched in the stomach.

"Children have spat in my face repeatedly."

Tracey Whyte at the INTO’s annual congress in Ennis
Tracey Whyte at the INTO’s annual congress in Ennis

Read more here: ESRI: most disadvantaged schools need more funding  

Ms Whyte stressed that she loves her job. However, she said: "Of the 20 serious assaults on me, I have hobbled back to the classroom black and blue with my biggest fear that I will exhaust my sick leave."

"Nobody deserves to be physically assaulted. However, the greater insult is that when I'm assaulted I have to use my own personal sick leave.

"I was not sick. In fact, I was assaulted in the workplace. This is not the same thing. I want it classified from the beginning that it is assault leave and to be recognised as that."

Read more here: Teachers urged to vote 'Yes' on same-sex marriage 

Ms Whyte was one of several speakers who outlined physical assaults on them and successfully called for a nationwide ballot for industrial action if the Department of Education doesn't by next January exempt 'assault leave' from normal sick leave. The INTO executive had opposed the call for a nationwide ballot on the issue.

Executive INTO member, Brendan O'Sullivan said the Department of Education had confirmed that assault leave would not be combined with sick leave for the purpose of reducing sick leave pay.

Irish Independent

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