Behaviour in Scottish Schools Data Confirms Rise in Violence in the Classroom

Created on: 28 Nov 2023

The results of the Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research (BiSSR), published by the Scottish Government, have confirmed that incidents of violence, aggression and disruptive behaviours in Scotland’s schools have risen significantly over the past few years. 

major national survey of Scotland’s schools, published last week by the EIS, indicated that 83% of schools report incidents of violence and aggression every single week. 72% of EIS school branches indicated that incidences of violence and aggression have grown over the past four years, compared to levels prior to the Covid pandemic.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said, "The data in the BiSSR confirms the findings of the EIS national survey of school branches, published last week, which identified a significant rise in incidents of violence and aggression in our schools over the past few years.

"The results make worrying reading for everyone involved in Scottish education, with 99% of EIS branches indicating that poor pupil behaviour, including violence and the threat of violence, is having a detrimental impact on the learning experience of pupils in our schools. This is against a backdrop of large class sizes, overworked teachers, rising levels of additional support needs and cuts to specialist provision."

Ms Bradley continued, "The Scottish Government and Scotland’s local authorities simply cannot ignore the evidence of the BiSSR and the EIS national survey, both of which paint a deeply worrying picture of a rising tide of disruptive behaviour, aggression and violence in Scotland’s schools.

"A lack of investment in education and support for young people, coupled with societal issues such as poverty, the influence of social media, mental ill-health and the continuing aftermath of the pandemic, have created an environment where too many young people feel alienated, isolated and distressed. For a growing minority of young people, this is increasingly manifesting itself in unruly, disruptive or violent behaviour, including during the school day and aimed at staff or other pupils."

The national survey of Scotland’s teachers, undertaken by the EIS - the country’s largest teaching union – was carried out over August and September. EIS branches in almost 900 schools took part across all sectors – representing around 45% of EIS members across Scotland.

The EIS represents 65,000 teaching professionals across all sectors of education. The Scottish Government and Local Authorities need to listen to these voices - our education system urgently needs greater investment. Without it, Scotland will face serious social and economic consequences for years to come.