Violence is happening “more and more” in schools due to inadequate levels of classroom support, a teacher union conference has been told.

In her address to the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) annual general meeting, Heather Hughes, outgoing president, also warned that staff were being made to feel as if they are to blame when things go wrong.

She said: “We desperately need more specialised additional support needs (ASN) teachers and assistants, more training in this area and, critically, more money and resources to bring all of this about.

“The lack of appropriate support in some circumstances can lead to young people exhibiting violent and aggressive behaviour. Teachers go to their workplaces to teach - to work with young people to help them grow and develop into successful learners, effective contributors, responsible citizens and confident individuals.

“Many teachers are thwarted from achieving these goals, facing violent and disruptive behaviour in their classrooms - not just being subjected to threatening language but sustaining real physical injuries.”

READ MORE: Pupil behaviour 'the worst it's been in years'

Ms Hughes stressed she was not talking about isolated cases. “Violent incidents are happening more and more in our schools because the young people and teachers are not getting the support they need to prevent them from happening," she added. “Teachers don’t come to work to be abused both verbally and physically, and action needs to be taken to tackle the root causes of these issues now.

"Teachers often feel unsupported when reporting these issues. All too often they are made to feel that the blame lies with them and not with the lack of support for young people who are expressing their frustrations over the lack of appropriate support or for many, particularly those with social and emotional difficulties, the inappropriate environment they are expected to learn in. These are the reasons they lash out.”

Her remarks come amid growing concern over reports of deteriorating pupil behaviour, particularly following Covid-related lockdowns.

This year’s Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) annual congress was told that standards of conduct were plummeting and driving educators away from the classroom.

One individual said that, in 11 years of teaching, he had never known behaviour to be as “difficult” as it is currently. “I can’t convince anybody to go into teaching right now, which is really sad at a time when we need more teachers than ever,” he added.

READ MORE: Glasgow teachers threaten strikes over violent pupil behaviour

Further evidence of the problem emerged last month when staff at Bannerman High in Glasgow threatened strikes over pupil violence and disruption. The NASUWT union said staff at the school had submitted six violent incident forms in just a few weeks since the end of the Easter holidays.

In November last year, senior EIS figures warned there had been a rise in incidents of aggression and stressed the increase was particularly marked among P1 and P2 children. They said they knew of one staff member in the primary sector who suffered a broken jaw and damage to an eye socket after being kicked in the face by a pupil. Another individual in a different school was punched by a P2 child and had a tooth knocked out.

The worsening trend has been interpreted by some as a sign of “distressed behaviour” and anxiety brought on by the pandemic.

However, many teachers insist the issue was a concern long before Covid and have criticised what they describe as the persistent tendency of bosses to blame them when things go wrong in the classroom.