MSP tells teachers: ‘I wouldn’t do your job for all the money in the world’

An MSP has told teachers she “wouldn’t do your job for all the money in the world” at an event discussing violence in the classroom.

The SNP’s Rona Mackay, deputy convener of Holyrood’s Education Committee, said the existing and rising pressures on teachers put her off the role.

She spoke out  at a fringe event at her party’s spring conference in Edinburgh, hosted by teaching union NASUWT about tackling pupil indiscipline.

The event heard about rising levels of violence in the classroom, including teachers being kicked in the head, spat at or sworn at.

Ms Mackay said: “I wouldn’t do your job for all the money in the world. I genuinely mean that.

“I think it must be very, very difficult with the the existing pressures and the rising pressures on teachers today.

Earlier, NASUWT Scotland representative Jane Peckham said 71% of teachers in Scotland are considering leaving the profession and 76% consider pupil indiscipline to be an issue in their own school, up from 50% last year.

She said: “The culture seems more to be about what is it you’re (teachers) doing wrong, what can you do?

“Our profession are, by the very dint of the name, professional. They have the best interests of our young people at heart.

“But there comes a point where being kicked in the head, or spat at or told to eff off, or attacking your teacher and as a sanction being taken to McDonald’s for lunch – that was a punishment for one group of pupils – trashing classrooms, beating each other up … what is it we’re supposed to do?”

She said industrial action would be used to protect members and ensure they are safe.

Ms Peckham added: “We cannot have situation where members are on a daily basis going into work and facing this abuse, because it’s on the increase.

“A particular school had 10 incidents in one day, one member of staff found wandering with concussion in the playground and not a single sanction on the pupils who had created that.

“That is not a culture we want in our country.”

Ms Mackay said: “Violence against teachers is unacceptable at every level.

“Violence against public-sector workers in any profession just can never be tolerated.”

She said the Scottish Government had produced revised guidance on managing exclusions and challenging pupil behaviour two years ago.

Ms Mackay said her figures indicate the majority of incidents take place in primary schools and involve children with additional support needs.

She stressed the need to look at the underlying reasons for violent behaviour.

Ms Mackay added: “The stats are absolutely shocking the fact that there is a rise in these incidents can never be underestimated, but overwhelming the behaviour of our children in schools is good.

“The stats say that 2% of primary school teachers reported experiencing physical assault last year.”

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