Primary teachers headbutted as rise in pupil attacks

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Media captionYoung pupils in North Yorkshire reveal their anger management techniques

Primary school teachers have been bitten, headbutted and attacked with knives by pupils at some schools in Yorkshire, the BBC has learnt.

The number of children suspended for attacks in the region rose from at least 396 in 2011-12 to 623 last year, figures obtained by the BBC reveal.

One West Yorkshire teacher said she was punched in the chest by a five-year-old boy who went on to be suspended.

Former head Anne Swift said some pupils came to school "fizzing with anger".

Ms Swift, who is vice president of the NUT union, said violent behaviour in young pupils was "all too common".

During her time at a primary school in Scarborough, Ms Swift said she had been attacked by a six-year-old girl who did not want to do what was being asked.

She said the youngster "started to swear and get quite violent" in the classroom before kicking her.

Children suspended for physical assaults on teachers and school staff
2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 Since September 2015
Barnsley 25 35 45 42 31
Rotherham 42 52 32 41 21
Bradford 73 110 143 149 83
Calderdale 11 8 20 36 30
Kirklees 59 91 81 97 41
Wakefield 55 72 68 59 44
York 8 10 15 13 1
North Yorkshire 123 97 145 186 68
TOTAL 396 475 549 623 319
Children expelled for physical assaults on teachers and school staff
2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 Since September 2015
Barnsley 0 0 0 0 4
Rotherham 5 1 1 2 0
Bradford 0 0 2 0 1
Calderdale 1 0 1 0 0
Kirklees 0 0 0 5 4
Wakefield 0 1 1 0 0
TOTAL 6 2 5 7 9

All local authorities in North, West and South Yorkshire were asked via a freedom of information request to reveal details about the number of pupils expelled and suspended for physically attacking teachers and other school staff, such as teaching assistants, since the 2011-12 school year.

Two attacks on teachers in Bradford in 2014-15 involved knives, the responses revealed.

Of the councils asked, Doncaster, Leeds and Sheffield said they did not hold the required information.

Many of the authorities said their figures did not include academies and free schools.

Figures from the responding councils show a rise in the number of children suspended, as well as an additional 319 pupils between September 2015 and January 2016.

Since 2011-12, 20 pupils have been expelled for violence in schools in Barnsley, Rotherham, Kirklees, Bradford, Calderdale and Wakefield.

Ms Swift told the BBC: "Some children come into school fizzing with anger.

"It's not only upsetting for the children but it has a devastating impact on the teacher and leaves them feeling very drained."

Ms Swift blamed rising violent behaviour on increasing demands in the classroom and problems at home.

"There is a lot of pressure on youngsters to perform, particularly because of the testing and assessments the government insists on.

"Sometimes it does not suit the children, they don't want to be sat at a table learning facts and having tests, it can cause them a lot of stress and anxiety."

'No touch' scrapped

The Department for Education (DfE) said it had given schools more powers to tackle poor behaviour, including scrapping rules that stopped teachers from removing disruptive pupils from classrooms.

"Teachers and school staff have a right to feel safe while doing their jobs and violence towards them is completely unacceptable," said a spokesperson.

"We have taken decisive action to put teachers back in charge of the classroom by giving them the powers they need to tackle poor behaviour and discipline.

"We have scrapped 'no touch' rules that stopped teachers removing disruptive pupils from classrooms, and ensured schools' decisions on exclusions can no longer be overruled."

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