End violence against teaching assistants in our schools says union bosses

Education / Mon 28th Nov 2022 at 05:29pm

GMB London has called for an end to violence against teaching assistants after a shock survey showed 77 per cent have experienced violence at work. 

The union surveyed over 1000 teaching assistants based in mainstream schools across the Home Counties, London and the East of England. 

Responses showed a third experience violence every week. Injuries sustained at work from respondents include; broken bones, black eyes, broken noses, concussion, broken teeth, bites that break the skin, torn ligaments and many more. 

GMB London today (25/11/22) launches its ‘Not Part of the Job’ campaign by projecting videos on the House of Commons and the Shard on the eve of United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. 

The survey also showed: 

  • 90 per cent of teaching assistants in schools are women. 
  • 92 per cent of respondents work in mainstream schools. 
  • Over 50 per cent feel violent assaults are not taken seriously by school leadership 
  • 70 per cent believe violence is expected to be tolerated as ‘part of the job’ 

One GMB London teaching assistant said: 

(I got a)…”Black eye from a 5-year-old. It made me feel weak, like I couldn’t deal with a situation, deflated, stressed and impacted on home life as husband didn’t want people to think he had hurt me…It really affects my mental health and I do not enjoy going to work knowing I won’t be supported …. It does not matter how many incidents report forms I fill in.” 

Another said: 

“It impacts on my daily life as I’m expected to turn up to my place of employment with the expectation of being physically harmed” 

Another said:

(I had) …”a lacerated eye after a child stabbed me in the eye with a pencil- I would rather not be one to one.” Another said: (I was) …” bitten, kicked, scratched, hair cut, stamped on, punched and slapped- I felt unappreciated and alone” 

Lisa Bangs, GMB London Schools Lead, said: 

“The injuries being sustained by teaching assistants are brutal and we have been hearing from our members how the violence and abuse also impacts on their emotional wellbeing.” 

“This tolerance of violence and abuse against support staff in schools must end. Head Teachers are failing in their legal duty of care by allowing abuse and violence against their staff. This wouldn’t happen in any other workplace.” 

“It is simple – nobody should be harmed or injured at work and GMB will be holding schools to account when they fail to protect members.” 

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4 Comments for End violence against teaching assistants in our schools says union bosses:

David Forman
2022-11-28 22:07:33

Nobody should be subjected to violence, intimidation and bullying at work. As the GMB's 'Not part of the Job' campaign shows the best way to tackle it is to join a trade union. Trade unions wil also represent your interests in matters of pay, pensions, annual & sick leave, discipline and safety at work. The small amount of money it costs each month is worth its weight in gold, especially when the bosses want to make people redundant.

2022-11-28 23:01:42

Or you could not join a trade union which is only interested in taking your money to further its political agenda. Instead threaten you employer with a tribunal if you are subject to unreasonable behaviour. And If they do not sort it, you will get 15- 20 k from your employer even if you are making it up, as it costs this much to defend an industrial tribunal even if the employee is wrong. they will settle out of court. I know several teaching assistance and they get the rough end of the stick. What we need is better parenting as far too many people seem to think that school is a substitute for parenting as opposed to a add on to parenting.

David Forman
2022-11-29 09:32:27

For Theman's benefit, trade unions try to settle matters by negotiation before resorting to a tribunal. Also, the union's legal team will sift the cases to see whether there is a reasonable chance of success. Employment Tribunals (ET) carry out a paper sift to see if sufficient evidence is present before organising a hearing. In the ten years from 2010/11 the total number of yearly employment tribunal claims dropped by 100,170, which equates to 45.93%. Depending on type of case the success rate ranges from 47.13% to 5.8%. In 2019/20, there were 580 claims that received compensation for Unfair Dismissal (12% less than 2018/19), the average award was £11,000. Not quite the panacea for a quick buck that Theman makes out.

2022-11-29 11:25:34

If the average payout is 11k then that means the cost to the employer was between 26-30k. As I have mentioned the cost to defend even if the employer wins is 15-20k, so it makes business sense to settle. In fact all claims are encouraged to be settled at some point by the judge during the preliminary hearings, its only if a figure cannot be agreed on that it then goes to full court tribunal. The figures you show above do not include all the cases that get settled this way, and this is why the number of cases seems to go down in the figures as any employer with any sense would try to settle in the majority of cases regardless of guilt. Also you will not read much about these settlements as both parties have to sign Non disclosure agreements.

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