Assaults on teachers rise

Bethany Hiatt
Dangerous times: Assaults on teachers are on the rise. Picture: Supplied

At 11am, five boys carrying a stick are wandering around a high school when a teacher with their back turned to them is struck from behind.

They then refused to say who did it.

The principal of the southern suburbs high school wrote in a report that they "thought it was funny" and ran to an area near the maths block.

"Another teacher wanted to enter that maths block and approached the door and had to request a number of times to be let past," the principal wrote. "(The teacher) felt intimidated and scared."

When the teacher entered and tried to close the door, a student jammed a stick in it. One boy pulled the door open and they piled into the office, injuring the teacher's finger. Five boys were later suspended for three days each and police notified.

The teacher sought medical attention for the finger and was advised about workers' compensation.

The report is just one example of many detailing physical assaults in public schools in the last four weeks of last term. Education Department figures show a third of all student suspensions last year were for assaults on other students but suspensions for assaulting teachers increased 12 per cent.

In a report in March, WA Auditor-General Colin Murphy said the department needed to review the way it managed students with "extremely challenging behaviours" by the end of this year.

When asked if the review was on track, the department's Statewide services director Lindsay Hale said yesterday it was "continuing to work" on implementing Mr Murphy's recommendations.

  • *Basil Hanna, chief executive of Parkerville Children and Youth Care, which provides outreach and early intervention services to schools, has seen an increase in children showing extreme behaviour.

Mr Hanna said research showed experiencing or witnessing violence or abuse affected children's brain development and this was often played out in their behaviour in the classroom.

State School Teachers Union president Pat Byrne said changes to school funding next year meant less money to deal with extreme behaviour.

Bethany Hiatt