Assault on Teachers Policy


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Policy on Assaults on Teachers

In DES Circular 40/97 the Minister for Education wishes to bring to the attention of the school authorities his concern at the increase in the incidents of assaults on staff in primary schools.

Violence in the workplace is an issue of grave concern for employees and employers alike. As in other workplaces, school employees are also the victims of violence in the workplace. During the course of their work, school staff may be at risk from violence in the form of verbal abuse, threats, assaults or other forms of intimidation.

This behaviour may come from pupils, parents, guardians, other staff members or intruders.

The Minister is anxious that every effort would be made to create and maintain a culture in schools where acts of violence are not tolerated and when they do occur, are effectively and speedily dealt with.

In this context, the Board of Management of Kilbride National School has formulated the following policy in order to provide a safe place to work for its employees. This policy outlines the following.

  • Measures to be taken to prevent or minimise the risk of assaults to teachers or other staff employed in schools;
  • Measures to be taken in support of staff who have been assaulted or threatened with assault; and
  • Ensuring that appropriate action is taken to safeguard against a recurrence.

Board's Duty to provide a Safe System of Work

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act became operative on 1 November 1989. It is an important piece of legislation for boards of management and for those who work in schools, as schools and colleges were brought under the scope of safety legislation for the first time.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989 requires employers to ensure the safety and health of their employees. It requires employers to draw up a Safety Statement:

  • Identifying the hazards
  • Assessing the risks to health and safety
  • Putting in place appropriate safeguards

In the Education Sector violence is considered as a potential hazard and assessed accordingly and where there is a risk to health and safety from violence appropriate safeguards must be put in place. Account should be taken of the specific circumstances that pertain in each school.

This policy states that there will be consultation with those at risk concerning the measures to be taken and monitoring their effectiveness. Information will be given to staff on protection and preventative measures which are essential.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Applications) Regulations 1993, provides that the Health and Safety Authority must be notified when an accident/incident occurs in the workplace which requires treatment from a registered medical practitioner or treatment in hospital. An accident or incident which results in an employee being absent from work for 3 days or more will be reported to the Authority.

Preventative Measures

The Board of Management of Kilbride National School outlines considerations and implements measures which would prevent or minimise the risk of assault to the employees of the board. The effectiveness of agreed procedures should be reviewed where necessary.

Admitting parents/visitors to the school

  1. All parents/visitors are to report to the Principal and to enter through the main door at the front of the school.
  2. Parents who wish to have a consultation with a class teacher are to make a prior appointment with the relevant teacher.
  3. In urgent cases where a pre-arranged appointment is not appropriate, parents should be encouraged to report in the first instance to the school principal.
  4. The practice of parents approaching classrooms directly during teaching time is discouraged. Specifically, access to teachers is on an "appointment only" basis where the circumstances of a meeting are likely to provoke confrontation.
  5. Parents are not permitted to enter the school premises after hours when member/members of staff are working.

Parent/teacher meetings

Arrangements for the conduct of formal parent teacher meetings are addressed in the School Plan. Parents are given adequate notice regarding the timing of such meetings and encouraged to raise issues of concern. Where sensitive issues are the subject of discussion, arrangements are made for conducting such interviews in privacy. Conducting interviews at the classroom door, while simultaneously supervising a class of children, is not conducive to open communication. Particular care is taken to ensure that parent/teacher consultations do not take place within the hearing of other pupils and or/parents.

Code of Behaviour

Under the terms of Circular 20/90 the Board of Management of Kilbride National School has developed a Code of Behaviour for Pupils, Staff and Parents. This Code was developed by the principal and staff in consultation with parents and approved by the board of management. This Code has been notified to pupils, staff and parents. Any sanction imposed on a pupil is in accordance with the Code of Behaviour. Procedures for suspending pupils are clearly set out in the school’s Code of Behaviour and should be adhered to.

Complaints Procedure

The Board of Management of Kilbride National School has in place a clear procedure for the processing of potential complaints. The terms of the complaints procedure are notified to parents, and parents should be encouraged to utilise stages of the procedure where necessary.

Internal Procedures

The issues of internal school procedures are discussed from time to time at staff meetings. Staff should be familiar with all relevant procedures.

In circumstances of increased risk, training should be provided for staff:

  • In identifying potentially violent situations, and
  • In calming down potentially violent situations.

Specific examination should be given to circumstances where staff are:

  • Working alone on school premises.
  • Working in an isolated part of the school premises.
  • Engaged in out of class activities.
  • Working with pupils with behavioural difficulties.

Steps to be followed in the event of an assault-Verbal /Physical

The Board of Management of Kilbride National School has devised the following clearly defined procedure to be implemented in the event of an assault on an employee. This policy includes a clear commitment on the board's part to be fully supportive of staff who have been subject to violence both physical and verbal. It is accepted that judgment will have to be exercised in each case. However, the following elements are to be implemented each procedure:

  1. a) The incident should be immediately reported to the principal teacher/other colleague.

The details of the incident should be recorded in an Incident Book kept for this purpose in the workplace. Situations in which members have been intimidated or threatened with physical or verbal violence will also be recorded.

  1. b) Where necessary, immediate medical assistance should be sought.
  2. c) The matter will be reported to the Gardaí, where appropriate. This report would normally be made by the teacher who was assaulted.
  3. d) The board of management will be notified of the incident and where necessary an emergency meeting of the board will take place. The board will notify its legal advisors of the assault. The board’s insurance company will also be notified.
  4. e) Where the assault is by a pupil the matter should be dealt with in accordance with the school's Code of Discipline and as provided for in Rule 130(5) of the Rules for National Schools.
  5. f) Repeatedly aggressive pupils should be referred, with the consent of parents, for psychological assessment in order to assess the pupil's social and emotional needs and to determine how these can be best met.
  6. g) Where the assault is committed by a parent/guardian, the parent/ guardian will be immediately instructed in writing not to make direct contact with the teacher/school pending full consideration of the matter by the board. Subsequently the board will correspond with the parent/ guardian stating:
  • That the board considers the assault unacceptable.
  • What action the board intends to take.
  • Outlining what pre-conditions should be met before access to the school is restored.
  1. h) Applications for leave of absence in relation to a member who has been assaulted will be forwarded to Primary Payments Section, Department of Education, Cornamaddy, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Each application will be assessed on its merits.

This policy was approved by the Board of Management in the academic year 2018/2019 and will be reviewed in the academic year 2019/2020.

Board of Management                                                                                              Kilbride National School