11 July 2024

London, United Kingdom – Nearly one in five teachers in England says they have been hit by a pupil in the past year, a poll revealed Thursday, as schools grapple with a post-pandemic slide in behaviour.

The findings come after education chief Amanda Spielman last year blamed a national increase in disruptive classroom behaviour on the loss of “socialisation” caused by Covid lockdowns. The outgoing head of the UK’s school inspection agency Ofsted said the problem would take years to resolve and was taking up “disproportionate” amounts of headteachers’ time.

The poll of around 9,000 staff in February and March, carried out by the BBC using the Teacher Tapp survey tool, also found that 30 percent of teachers said they had seen pupils fighting in the previous week. Fifteen percent of teachers working with pupils aged 11-18 said they had experienced sexual harassment from a pupil while at school.

The NASUWT teaching union is currently mulling fresh strike action over what it has described as “dystopian levels” of stress faced by staff.

Teachers — along with other workers from doctors to train drivers — walked out repeatedly in 2023 amid a national cost-of-living crisis before accepting a 6.5-percent pay deal last July.

The union has been consulting its members on renewed industrial action on pay, workload and wellbeing and is due to announce the result in the coming days.

“Teachers in the UK are experiencing dystopian levels of workload and work-related stress,” said NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach.

“They can’t go on much longer without reform to their pay, their workloads, their working hours and their rights at work,” he added.

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© Agence France-Presse