Scotland's biggest teaching union has opened a strike ballot ballot prompted by "serious" concerns over the safety of staff as a result of pupil violence at an Aberdeen school.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said the action is the result of "extremely challenging" actions by a "small percentage" of pupils at Northfield Academy.

It is understood complaints have been made about pupils exhibiting physical aggression towards teachers, including pushing and intimidation.

Staff have also had to deal with racial and homophobic abuse as well as gender-based violence and abuse.

The EIS says that despite taking a number of steps to seek to address the issue, the "lack of an adequate response from school leadership and the local authority" has now compelled the EIS to seek a mandate for industrial action.

EIS said a consultative ballot in the school showed "extremely strong" support for a move to industrial action, with 81% of teachers supporting some form of industrial action and 70% supporting strike action.

EIS Aberdeen local association joint secretary Heather Collie said, “Teachers are well accustomed to dealing with pupil indiscipline, and experience a wide range of challenging behaviours throughout their working lives.

"This is never a pleasant part of the job, but it is a reality for which teachers are highly trained and highly skilled. What will always be unacceptable, however, is where challenging behaviour escalates to become violence or the threat of violence against a member of teaching staff.

"It is, unfortunately, the case that violence against teachers, both physical and verbal, perpetrated by a very small percentage of pupils, has become far too frequent at Northfield Academy. It is for that reason that Aberdeen EIS requested, and the EIS Emergency Committee authorised, a statutory industrial action ballot for our members at the school.”

A postal statutory industrial action ballot is now open and will close on Friday 18 November.

EIS co-Aberdeen local associaton secretary Ron Constable added: “The EIS has attempted to engage with school management at Northfield Academy, and with the local authority, to ensure that our members’ concerns in relation to their safety are properly addressed. The response has been, to put it mildly, disappointing and this has compelled us to ballot our members for industrial action.

"Aberdeen EIS has already highlighted a range of actions than must be taken to provide a safe working environment for teachers in the school, as well as a range of measures to ensure that any teachers who are subjected to physical or verbal violence are supported properly by their employer.

"A safe place to work is surely not too much to ask for teachers, who simply want to get on with their jobs delivering a quality educational experience for young people.”

An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said: “Aberdeen City Council is disappointed that the EIS has balloted members on industrial action at Northfield Academy.

"Considerable work has been undertaken to address concerns raised by the trade union since the dispute was lodged in June 2022.

"Staff have engaged with opportunities to have a greater voice in school improvement and with training to develop their skills and practices.

"Staff welcomed the chance to invest significant time on the development of a refreshed relationships policy last session in collaboration with pupils and wider stakeholders, including the parent council.

"The school launched an innovative pilot to support pupils finding it hardest to engage with education, bringing considerable additional staffing resource and expertise to the school.

"Northfield Academy is a school where every staff member and pupil is valued – where inclusion and opportunity are at the heart of education – and we hope to work with trade union colleagues to resolve the issues raised, so we might continue to provide a positive place of learning for all.”