Violence and Aggression Survey Information

Created on: 23 Nov 2023

Dear Colleague

The EIS launched its Stand Up for Quality Education (SU4QE) campaign at its AGM in June 2023. The campaign has a key theme that aims to make learning and teaching environments safer for teachers, other school staff and pupils themselves. A focus of this theme is to build the skills, resources, and school culture to address disruptive, distressed, violent and aggressive pupil behaviour.

The Health & Safety Executive and the EIS defines ‘violence and aggression’ as;

‘Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.’  This definition includes:

  • verbal abuse or threats, including face-to-face, online and via telephone;
  • physical attacks.

Part of the SU4QE campaign on ‘violence and aggression’ was a survey of branches to determine the extent and nature of ‘violence and aggression’ faced by both teachers and pupils. The survey also aimed to look at the challenges around ‘violence & aggression’ and good practice to address or mitigate violence & aggression in schools.

Thank you for your work in coordinating responses in your branch. Responses were received from 875 EIS branches – i.e. schools, which is a very high rate of return. The survey results have been used to determine relevant SU4QE campaigning objectives related to ‘violence and aggression’ in schools.

We made strenuous efforts to analyse and publish the survey’s findings as quickly as possible so that we can begin to systematically address the issues identified.

The full survey report is available on our website, the key findings show:

  1. ‘Violence and aggression’ is an urgent issue within Scotland’s schools, with incidents being experienced every week in over three-quarters of schools, and daily in many.  Most schools reported that the amount of ‘violence and aggression’, including prejudice based violence, had grown in the last four years compared to levels before the Covid pandemic.
  2. Almost all schools stated that violent, aggressive or disruptive behaviour, including persistent low-level disruption, has an effect on pupils' learning.  This includes disruption to teaching and learning, difficulties in maintaining or regaining pupils’ attention, and adverse impacts on the behaviour of other pupils.
  3. Many schools/local authorities do not effectively disseminate policies and procedures to address ‘violence and aggression’ as fewer than half of schools report that teachers are aware of the policies and procedures in place for dealing with pupil-on-teacher ‘violence and aggression’. Many individual responses stated that no such policy existed in their school.
  4. A majority of branches reported that the support given to teachers was inconsistent after a ‘violent and aggressive’ incident was reported, with few schools reporting that teachers were always supported after an incident.
  5. Almost all schools reported an increase in stress anxiety and depression for teachers. More than three-quarters of schools said that some of their teachers are afraid of certain pupils. Three-quarters of schools said teachers have sustained physical injuries and almost two-thirds report that teachers in their school had been on sick leave following a ‘violent and aggressive’ incident. A large number of schools reported that teachers had considered leaving the profession as a result of the violence and aggression in their schools.

I have written to the Scottish Government, COSLA, Education Scotland, Parents Groups and individual local authorities to advise them of our report and its findings, and to ask for their cooperation and assistance in delivering the report’s recommendations that arise from its findings.

There are different recommendations at national, local and school level. We hope to work with the Scottish Government and COSLA at national level to deliver the national recommendations; for your EIS Local Association to work with your Local Authority to deliver the local authority level recommendations and for branches to campaign to deliver the school level recommendations from the report.

The recommendations are ambitious and, when realised, will fundamentally change and improve our schools, such that ‘violence and aggression’ is the exception rather than the norm and schools are safe places for teachers and other staff to work, and young people to learn.  

This is a long-term campaign, and some school level recommendations will not be possible without your local authority's support. Branches will need to work systematically through these recommendations and coordinate their efforts with the Local Association.

A guide for branches is here, and for reference, we have included what the local authority recommendations are too.

Yours sincerely

Andrea Bradley
General Secretary