Five teachers a day assaulted by students

South Australia: ALARMING new figures show there were 1062 assaults on teachers in the state's public system last year - an average of more than five every school day.

Education Department figures, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, also show 144 were classed as "critical" incidents.In 2011, teachers lodged 46 compensation claims for assaults by students aged between 5 and 15 - an increase on 38 claims in 2010, and 40 in 2009.

Education leaders say teachers are at greater risk of being assaulted because students have "much more complex problems".SA Primary Principals Association president Steve Portlock said teachers were increasingly at risk of harm from students.

"Students nowadays come with much more complex problems than they did four or five years ago, and teachers don't always know how to deal with this complexity," he said.
"We have an increasing diversity of students in our schools and there are increases in conditions such as autism."

Australian Education Union state secretary Correna Haythorpe said to deal with students who have more behavioural needs, teachers must have more support, especially in the form of school counsellors.
Education Minister Grace Portolesi said the government had employed extra counsellors and 37 behaviour specialists to deal with the problem.

"The issue of violence is taken seriously and that is why there are strict guidelines on reporting all incidents," she said.

"The number of incidents reflects this level of reporting by staff. The criteria staff use to report incidents of assault are broad and are not the same criteria used by police."

Of the 1062 assaults reported last year, 764 were "deliberate" acts by students, while the other 298 were listed as assaults at special schools or disability units.

That compares with 1046 assaults in 2010 and 1001 a year earlier.SA Secondary Principals Association president Jan Paterson said teachers were often put in harm's way, especially when they became caught in the middle of student disputes.

"From what I hear a lot of the problems arise when teachers try and intervene to prevent things blowing up between students and that then leaves them in the middle," she said.
Opposition spokesman David Pisoni, who obtained the figures through FOI laws, said principals "don't have the authority or resources to implement the  tailored responses that are needed".
"Each year for three years we have seen no reduction, the Minister has failed to address these serious assaults on teachers," Mr Pisoni said.
Association of Independent Schools of SA chief executive Garry Le Duff said there was no "central database" of information about assaults within his sector - but was not aware of any issues.  (adelaidenow.com.au)


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