Warning issued over rise in violence from children
Teachers may soon need to start wearing body cameras in primary schools across Neath Port Talbot due to increasing violence from children, a county councillor has warned.
Steve Hunt, chairman of governors for Blaendulais Primary School and also a governor at YGG Blaendulais, said staff at schools across the county were having to deal with increasing numbers of pupils with behavioural issues.
Raising concerns at a recent cabinet scrutiny committee, Councillor Hunt said: “There’s increasing aggression towards teachers and teaching assistants in our primary schools. This is quite alarming to say the least. I’m well aware of a number of cases personally.
“We are getting to the point where in order to feel safe teachers may need to wear body cameras – like traffic wardens and the police – so they have got the evidence to support what they’re saying to officials and officers of the local authority.”
The Seven Sisters ward councillor added: “There are children in schools that shouldn’t be in these schools – the underlying problem is the time it is taking for children’s assessments to be done.
“I know the council is doing its best but my concern is whether we are moving quickly enough – have we got the finances and resources to put into it when everything else needs it as well?”
During the meeting on Friday, January 10, the council’s head of transformation Andrew Thomas said work was ongoing with schools to ensure they followed the correct reporting processes following incidents of aggression to staff.
He said: “The reporting system is there to help protect staff but it’s also useful for us to understand where these pockets of incidents are so we can direct resources to schools.”
He said the council had opened up a number of specialist facilities for children who displayed “extreme behaviour” in recent years, adding that there were plans for a new centre for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at Dwr y Felin Comprehensive School.
He said: “These children display extreme behaviour because of their ASD. In the future we will probably have more specialist facilities.”
Leader of the Council, Councillor Rob Jones said:
“In light of the media coverage this week, the council does not wish to be associated with Cllr Hunt’s comments. We take the same view as the Children’s Commissioner for Wales that there is no place for body-worn cameras within a school setting.
“Our aim is to help children who display difficult or challenging behaviour not to punish them.
“There are already robust systems and processes in place to help protect staff, including a reporting system regarding extreme pupil behaviour. This means the council knows where pockets of incidents occur and can direct the right resources to the right area.
“There are also specialist facilities to help pupils with challenging behaviour.
“We are disappointed Cllr Hunt did not raise these matters with council officers if he perceived there was a problem.”
Over the 2017-18 academic year, a total of 528 pupils were excluded for a fixed period compared to 440 in the previous year.
The increase included 19 more primary schoolchildren, almost 50 more secondary pupils and 20 children from special schools or pupil referral units.
The majority were excluded for a period of five days or less.