Friday, August 04, 2006

Scotland: Ex-pupils 'break teacher's leg after attacking him in street'

A teacher required surgery to "shocking" injuries after he was set upon by former pupils in the latest in a string of attacks on school staff to provoke warnings teaching is becoming "a dangerous profession". The supply teacher had to have six steel screws inserted in his shattered leg during surgery after he was assaulted in Edinburgh by a gang of between four and six youths, believed to be former pupils of Liberton High School. He also suffered facial injuries during the attack in which the gang kicked and punched him in the head and body as he lay defenceless on the ground.

Last night the head of Scotland's biggest teaching union warned the incident highlighted the increasing violence faced by teachers both in and outside the classroom. The 42-year-old teacher, who did not want to be identified, was attacked as he walked across North Bridge in Edinburgh last Sunday. He said: "I was stopped in the street by the kids - I still call them kids because they were my pupils - but they were young men now. They called me by my name and I recognised some of their faces. "We started talking and I asked them how they were getting on and what they were doing with their lives. Then one of them threw some water on me from a bottle. The next thing I knew someone punched me in the face. Another kicked me in the leg and I heard it snap. I fell to the ground and they started kicking and punching me in the head." He went on: "Being a teacher can be quite stressful, so I look forward to my holidays to relax, but now that's ruined. I'm just shocked that they could have done this."

Ronnie Smith, the general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country's biggest teachers' union, said violence in and out of the classroom was at risk of making teaching a "dangerous profession" - a label that would deter students from training to join it. Last year, a survey found at least 36 teachers in Scottish schools had to have hospital treatment after being assaulted by pupils. Mr Smith said the EIS recognised that violence towards teachers was a growing problem, and increasing numbers of teachers were leaving the profession due to stress. "It is a pretty grim state of affairs if a teacher cannot go out in his or her leisure time without looking over their shoulder," Mr Smith said. "If the job of teaching is seen as not only being pressurised in the classroom but also dangerous on the streets, it will put off people from becoming teachers and that is something we cannot allow to happen."

A police spokeswoman said: "Three men aged 20, 21 and 22 were arrested in connection with an assault." The growing number of attacks on teachers are leading local authorities to take increasingly extreme measures. In the Borders, staff have been issued with panic alarms as classroom violence spirals out of control. The "safe school alert" system works by sending pager alerts to key staff, giving the precise location so they can rush to the scene.


No comments: