‘Teachers need to be protected’ - union president

Ulster Teachers' Union president Sandra Brown. (2904MM30)
Ulster Teachers' Union president Sandra Brown. (2904MM30)

A County Derry teacher and president of the Ulster Teachers’ Union has said more must be done to protect educators.

Sandra Brown, a teacher at Drumrane Primary School, Dungiven, was speaking after the death of a teacher in England following a classroom stabbing.

“The tragedy for this much-loved teacher’s friends and family is immeasurable and part of that tragedy must be the fact that for some time now the threat of violence facing teachers has been growing,” she said.

The UTU president said teachers need more support to deal with violence in the classroom.

“Of course, the facts regarding the death of our colleague in England remain to be fully revealed but the reasons for violence in the classroom are manifold – not least though are class size, a growing number of children with special needs, lack of resources and support for those children and inadequate training for teachers in SEN and behavioural management,” she said.

Mr Brown said instances of classroom violence often go unreported.

“Schools and teachers don’t publicise incidents because of the sensitivity of issues often involved – these are children, often they have special educational needs – so only the very worst cases make it into the public domain.

“But be under no illusion, violence in the classroom is a daily risk and an all too common occurrence for many teachers. Every week we are contacted by teachers about this.

“The public isn’t hearing about all these incidents, but if a shop worker or a clerical officer was subject to this there would be an outcry,” she said.