Pupil violence and abuse driving teachers from profession

Two schoolboys fighting
Violence appears to have increased both between pupils and towards staff in Welsh schools [Getty Images]

A teacher has said she is looking for a job outside of the profession in the hope it will improve her wellbeing.

The secondary school teacher, who has been teaching for 20 years, said it is the worst it's been since she started.

Her comments come as the teachers' union, NASUWT, said the Welsh government needs to do more to protect teachers from violent pupil behaviour.

The government said any form of violence against staff in schools is completely unacceptable.

The Carmarthenshire teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, said she thought in her school it was "mostly down to weak leadership and a fear of making decisions".

"Pupils frequently swear at teachers and consequences are inconsistently applied, for example a child can tell a teacher [an expletive] with little to no repercussion, yet if they displease senior management in any way they are excluded.

"The behaviour policy exists, but if a parent complains sanctions are removed.

"A number of pupils roam around the school not attending lessons, when they are challenged staff are sworn at, again with no consequences - it feels as though the pupils are in charge.

"It's worse since Covid - there's no respect for staff and blame is always laid at the teachers' door."

'Teaching bleeds you dry'

She added that it felt like staff wellbeing was a low priority, with staff from all areas including admin "leaving in droves".

"Teaching is not about teaching anymore, that's a tiny part of it compared to all the paperwork, lesson planning, marking and reports.

"The average teacher gets five periods a fortnight to plan, prepare, mark, which isn't enough, so work needs to be done at home in the evenings, weekends and 'school holidays'.

"Teaching bleeds you dry, leaving very little for your own family and friends," she said.

Boy hitting another boy with a teacher running down the corridor to intervene
Teachers at Caldicot High School in Monmouthshire and Pencoedtre High School in Barry recently went on strike over issues with pupil behaviour [Getty Images]

She said that the government should concentrate on keeping the teachers they have, rather than pushing to recruit more.

She added that there were lovely moments, but those were fewer and fewer.

"Education is broken, the decision to leave is easy, finding a job with a similar salary is not, however, that is the price I am willing to pay," she said.

NASUWT reported that 38% of teachers in Wales experienced violence or physical abuse from a pupil in the last 12 months.

Its general secretary Patrick Roach said: "We do not accept a situation in which teachers in Wales feel abandoned by their employers or by the Welsh government, and left alone to deal with serious episodes of pupil indiscipline and violence.

"Teachers did not sign up to become punch bags or referees in physical altercations between pupils, they have a right to feel and to be safe at work.

Neil Butler, the union's national officer for Wales, said teachers were operating in a hostile environment where they cannot teach and their calls for help were being ignored.

"The Welsh government must open its eyes to the crisis unfolding in our schools.

"As a matter of urgency we need funding for alternative provision and increased classroom support, teachers should be empowered to deal with challenging behaviour through decreased class sizes and balanced workloads."

A Welsh government spokesperson added: "We want our schools to be safe and welcoming environments where teachers can get on with their jobs, ensuring that every child and young person is supported to reach their potential.

"There is a duty on local authorities and schools to ensure schools are a safe environment for all."