ATTACKS on teachers are happening “daily” and teachers don’t feel safe, a committee has heard.

The comments emerged as West Dunbartonshire Council passed a new policy on seclusion and restraint of pupils who “exhibit distressed or challenging behaviour”.

Following an investigation by the Children and Young People’s Commissioner, restraining youngsters is almost completely banned.

Council bosses insisted it was only in extreme situations where a pupil risked harming themselves or others that they would need held in any way.

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But last week’s education services committee heard teachers had concerns about their own safety.

Gavin Corrigan, representing teachers on the committee, said he and colleagues welcomed the new policy but warned attacks on teachers are happening “daily”.

He said: “Although it is a minority, it is an ever increasing number.

“Some examples - and these are happening daily: teachers being kicked, teachers being spat on, being threatened, being attacked. And that’s not to do with any verbal abuse we’re having to deal with.”

Mr Corrigan said the teaching profession was aware of often challenging circumstances in pupils’ home lives.

He also referred to the policy as telling pupils what they should expect. But he said there should also be expectations of pupils.

“That doesn’t appear anywhere in here,” he said. “Pupils are stakeholders, but they don’t have any responsibilities within this document. I think maybe we could look at adding in what expectations we have of the pupils.

“From our experiences, what’s happening is this challenging behaviour or violent incidents, there’s no consequence. The pupil maybe gets removed from the class for the rest of a particular period or the rest of a day.

“They’re back in the next day without a restorative conversation or without, from the teacher’s point of view, any real consequence.

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“A lot of what we’re hearing just now, a lot of schools, they don’t feel safe - they really don’t.”

Claire Cusick, senior education officer, told the committee she was confident they were ensuring the rights of children and acknowledged challenging behaviour was difficult for teachers. She said policies and expectations are reviewed regularly.

Council leader Jonathan McColl said: “I think we need firmer guidance, to better protect our children and young people and also our teachers.

“Anyone who has a child in school will know the challenges that teachers are facing.

“It is a minority, but you wouldn’t even have had that when I was in school, the level of threat being presented to teachers and other pupils, and pupils to themselves.”

But two councillors also said they initially read the council’s policy document as saying restraint and seclusion were happening.

Provost William Hendrie said: “That’s utterly shocking in this day and age. You’re talking about going back to the 1800s.”

And Councillor Danny Lennie said: “When I read it first, I would 100 per cent agree with Provost Hendrie.”

The document defines “restraint” and “seclusion” but council officers said that is part of the policy to show what teachers must not do.

Ms Cusick said it was to explain what is and is not expected.

She said: “We are very, very clear that those things should not be happening.”

And Laura Mason, chief education officer, added: “That would be utterly unacceptable in West Dunbartonshire. We will not have that, we don’t have that.”

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Responding to the provost’s concerns, Cllr McColl said: “This is not what teachers should do - they’re there so teachers are clear. Restraint or seclusion of a child should only be as a last resort for the shortest possible period of time.

“I find it really clear to read.”

Julia Strang, who also sits on the committee and is a MAPA (Management of Actual or Potential Aggression) trainer, said in two years, she has only held a pupil once as a last resort.

She said: “The child is not in any danger at all. Please don’t worry about it. I would definitely endorse it [the policy].”

Speaking after the meeting, new parents’ representative on the committee, Michelle Stuart, said: “I know it’s very challenging for teachers and you do hope the right support and training is in place to ensure pupils and staff are safe. This is a positive debate to be having.”