One-in-10 head teachers 'attacked by parents'

Woman with head in hands Survey respondents reported being punched and kicked

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As many as one-in-10 head teachers has been physically assaulted by a pupil's parent or carer, a survey by the NAHT school leaders' union suggests.

Incidents reported by the 1,362 heads surveyed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland included being punched, spat on, kicked, head butted, bitten and sexually assaulted.

Twice as many reported being victimised on social networking websites.

The government said attacks on teachers were "completely unacceptable".

About 1,300 of the NAHT's 28,000 members in primary and secondary schools took part in the survey.

'Unacceptable pressure'

One respondent described a "serious kicking attack" that left its victim "badly bruised" and with "difficulty walking for a couple of days".

Another said a table had been thrown at them. There was one case where a head teacher said a parent had tried to run them over in a car park. And one description read: "Punched in the face, bitten, kicked, spat at, hand down T-shirt to grab breasts, hair pulled."

Almost 75% of respondents said they had suffered verbal abuse or threats from a parent in the past five years, and 86% said parents' behaviour towards teachers had worsened.

National Association of Head Teachers general secretary Russell Hobby said: "School leaders often have to make difficult decisions about discipline, exclusions, holidays and the distribution of limited budgets.

"Many come under unacceptable pressure designed to effect undue influence on them. All are dedicated to doing what is best for the children in their care. Some pay a high personal cost for this dedication."

But he also said "the vast majority of families" were "a pleasure to work with".

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Violence against staff by parents or pupils is completely unacceptable. A physical assault against a teacher is a criminal offence and we support schools in working with the police to take firm action where needed."

The report comes about a week after a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, in which about a quarter of those surveyed said they had been bullied by another member of staff.

Among the teachers who felt they had been bullied, 50% said it was by a senior member of staff, compared with 25% by pupils and 23% by parents.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I don't agree with violence, towards anyone. Just as children shouldn't be abused, neither should adults. Some parents think they are above the law but some teachers & Heads think they are too & that they know all there is to know and very often fail to take into account that parents may actually know something too. How much better would it be for both sides to treat each other with respect?

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    My wife, a teacher, was approached by a female parent at the end of the school day who asked the whereabouts of another teacher.
    When my wife said she didn't know where the other teacher was, the woman said, "You'll do", and hit my wife hard on the head with her rolled umbrella! A physical assault, it happened 45 years ago, unusual in those days but sadly not now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    My Husband was an LSA for several years. He confirms that this sort of issue is a big problem, some parents/carers think the sun shines from somewhere on their children and become wholly rude and unreasonable when asked to come into the office. This makes school dicipline very difficult when parents don't co operate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    A terrifying report. Any workplace, for any employee in Britain, must be safe and conducive to decent working practices.
    Schools and teachers are no different, and have the right to expect safety in the workplace, plus HR departments. No wonder that more teachers and lecturers are joining Agencies so they can walk away from abuse and ABH/GBH. Parents must face law as any criminal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Some heads only have themselves to blame and I have experienced 1st hand, provocation from my sons old head at a Junior School in Manchester. I wanted to 'kick off' but fortunately I'm not in any way violent or abusive and I'm also wise enough to know that that would only be held against me. Better to report them officially, then there is an official record of their failings and the issue.


Comments 5 of 6


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