Protecting teachers from violence in the UK

There are thousands of incidents of violence in UK schools each year. So how can we keep UK teachers safe?

Violence against teachers: the statistics

72,173 violent students were either excluded or suspended in England in 2019/20 due to physical assault against an adult or pupil.

On the face of it, this is a shocking statistic. However, this represents a decrease compared to previous years due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic when many pupils were unable to attend school. For context, in the previous year (pre-Covid), 102,278 violent students were excluded or suspended due to physical assault.

In addition, 61,186 aggressive students were excluded or suspended for verbal abuse or threatening behaviour towards a pupil or adult. This compares with 84,604 in the previous year.

Note: These figures apply to state-funded schools only.
Read more government statistics.

Moreover, a Labour Force Survey reported by the BBC stated that staff working in secondary education are "three times more likely to be physically attacked at work than the average UK employee".

So, with such startling data, are UK school staff safe and what can be done to protect teachers from violence, abuse, and aggression?

How can we keep teachers safe in schools?

Deploying lone worker technology can help to keep UK teachers safe. A SoloProtect lone worker device gives a teacher a means to discreetly call for help in an emergency at the push of a Red Alert button – without needing to pick up a phone and call 999 that could potentially aggravate a situation.

This opens a call with our Alarm Receiving Centre where Operators will listen in to the incident, establish the severity and then send an appropriate response. This could be alerting the police, ambulance service, or school security, for example.

Furthermore, an emergency alarm will also automatically be activated if a SoloProtect ID Touch device is ripped from around the teacher’s neck, or if the teacher is incapacitated (sometimes known as a Man Down Alarm). In both these scenarios, it removes the need for the Red Alert button to be pressed, adding an extra layer of security.

Are school teachers lone workers?

Many schools initially engage with SoloProtect because they’re worried about the environmental risks faced by caretakers, cleaners, estates staff or other ‘out of hours’ colleagues who may often work alone. It’s right that the safety of these lone workers should be considered and, from an operational perspective, using lone worker alarms can enable these colleagues to do more out of hours work when necessary.

However, schools also need to think about social risks for teaching staff – both on the school premises site and during any off-site excursions.

Perhaps the education sector doesn’t recognise teachers as ‘lone workers’. It’s easy to understand why; schools are busy places. However, from a risk perspective, any teacher can be alone without any colleagues in the vicinity to witness and provide support should an incident of student violence or aggression occur.

Our blog 'What is a lone worker' helps explain the definition of lone working and who is classed as a ‘lone worker’.

You may also find our lone working policy template useful:

example lone worker policy

How can teachers be protected from violence?

SoloProtect ID Touch is an extremely discreet safety device that’s designed to be easy to wear on a teacher’s existing lanyard or belt clip, and the device will capture the audio of an incident when a Red Alert is raised.

This audio evidence of the violence and/or abuse can then be requested by the school following a genuine incident. This removes the element of subjective argument or selective reporting, offering protection to both the teacher and pupil.

It’s for these reasons that SoloProtect ID is extremely popular in the education sector.

The SoloProtect Mobile app is also an ideal solution for teachers who have easy access to their mobile phones and would prefer not to carry an additional device.

Preventing violence against teachers

We all know that prevention is better than cure. So what if there was a way to avoid a situation escalating to the point of violence?

SoloProtect’s Ready2Talk feature allows a teacher to open a call with an Operator in the Alarm Receiving Centre when they can see clear evidence of a risk, but they’re not in imminent danger. This could be a situation where school staff need to break up a fight or calm an aggressive student down.

The Operator will stay on the call, listening as the situation evolves, until the teacher has confirmed that they are safe and happy to close the call. If the situation does escalate, the Operator can upgrade the call to a Red Alert and quickly send the appropriate assistance.

Moreover, if a school uses SoloProtect’s mobile app, managers can quickly send important risk messages to users via a Mass Notification System. This could be used to alert teachers to a missing child or to deploy specially trained teachers to a fight scene, for example, speeding up the response time and reducing risk.

Investing in safety technology for schools

Cost can sometimes be a hurdle for schools where budgets are tight, but investing wisely can facilitate the best return:

  • A credible lone worker supplier will work with you to help grade the level of risk to staff members – ensuring you only pay for the features you need.
  • Lone worker devices can often be shared between users – particularly for part-time or shift workers.
  • Your lone worker safety partner should provide adequate training to users, along with usage reports to ensure the solution is providing value for money.

For more information, read our blog: The cost of a lone worker safety solution.

As in any place of work, it’s important to acknowledge that many employees do not regularly face violence, abuse, or aggression. However, all employers should carefully consider their duty of care obligations and provide lone workers with the means to call for help in an emergency.

For more information or to request a demo, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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If you'd like to understand how SoloProtect can help to keep your workers safe, and deliver operational and financial benefits to your organisation, please get in touch.
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