New figures point to a worrying rise in the number of assaults in classrooms in the Scottish Borders.
Official figures, released in response to a freedom of information request, reveal that last academic year 79 assaults on teachers by pupils were recorded. This is three times the level of the previous year and 16 more than in 2014-15.
In their response, officials from Scottish Borders Council said that the reason the figure was so low for 2015-16 wasn’t because of fewer assaults but “due to a reduction overall in incidents reported.”
Local MP John Lamont has described the increase in assaults and the apparent under-reporting of incidents in previous years as “concerning.” He is also calling for the introduction of school based counselling for Scottish pupils, something which is already available in Wales and Northern Ireland.
John Lamont MP said: “Schools in the Borders are generally excellent and very safe places to work, but these figures are concerning and the Council is right to be treating them seriously.
“It’s important to recognise that these are a relatively small number of instances. However, teachers should not be subjected to any form of assault at school. It just simply should not be happening.
“What is equally as concerning is that teachers felt unable to report incidents in 2015 for some reason.
“It’s important to make sure teachers feel empowered to tackle this type of behaviour and it should remain the case that head teachers can expel pupils where necessary. However, we also need to look at the root causes for behaviour like this.
“I understand that the Council are looking at what preventative strategies need to be put in place to better support pupils who demonstrate a pattern of abusive behaviour towards staff.
“One measure which should be considered by the Scottish Government is centrally funding school based counselling, as is provided to pupils in Wales and Northern Ireland. Measures like that would go some way to helping support pupils and tackle this disruptive behaviour.”