The number of violent attacks from children against teachers and staff in West Dunbartonshire schools increased by over 300 per cent in five years, exclusive figures reveal.

There were 723 recorded incidents of employees at education hubs across the local authority being the victims of aggression by children in the 2022/23 school year, compared to 175 in 2017/18, an increase of 313 per cent.

The astonishing numbers – attained after an FOI request by the Clydebank Post - highlight the fear staff live with daily and could even be an underrepresentation of the actual figures, say a teachers union.

There are currently 12,226 school pupils in West Dunbartonshire Council and 5,281 pupils have Additional Support Needs (ASN) (43%).

ASN school Kilpatrick had the most recorded incidents, with at least 442 reports since the beginning of the 2017/18 school year and 77 in 2022/23.

Balloch Primary School had at least 214 during the same period, with 61 incidents reported in 2018/19 and 71 the following year. The Early Learning Centre part of the school had 72 incidents during the 2022/23 term.

St Joseph’s Primary in Faifley had 172 since 2017/18 with Clydemuir recording 163 for the same period. Cunard Primary and Kilbowie had 87 and 49 respectively.

Teachers’ union the EIS demanded something has to change to protect West Dunbartonshire teachers and staff, claiming a recent survey they conducted showed 66 per cent of teachers experienced these attacks daily.

Seventy per cent have experienced the physical violence of slapping, punching, kicking, hair pulling, biting and objects thrown at them.

Verbal threats are of a similar intensity.

And joint secretary of the West Dunbartonshire EIS Jim Halfpenny asked local politicians to step in to help.

He told the Clydebank Post: “Where, in any other area of the council, would this be tolerated? Who among our elected representatives and senior managers would come to work in the knowledge that they may be assaulted?

“Undoubtedly, the violence of poverty plays a significant part in a child’s response to perceived problems inside and outside of school.

“Teachers go to their workplaces to teach - to work with young people to help them grow and develop into successful learners and confident individuals but they cannot be expected to overcome problems that are fundamental to a society that keeps more than a quarter of its children in poverty.

“Ninety per cent of teachers felt that the unmet needs of pupils who require additional support exacerbate violent, aggressive or disruptive behaviour. It is estimated that a third of pupils in our schools have additional support needs.”

All teachers surveyed believe that this type of poor behaviour has had a serious effect on the learning of every pupil which can make them less focused on their work, more agitated, more nervous, more withdrawn and less happy in class.

It also had the impact of making teachers more stressed, leading to increased anxiety or depression and leaving around 80 per cent of West Dunbartonshire teachers considering leaving the profession.

West Dunbartonshire Council say they will continue to support teachers and school staff to feel safe at work.

A spokesperson told the Clydebank Post: “The council is committed to reducing physical and verbal abuse and we support employees to record incidents. 

"We all have the right to work without fear of violence or threats and we are committed to working with and supporting our employees to ensure they are safe at work.”