Restorative justice in Scottish classrooms is in the spotlight again as a teaching union claims the practice is causing a rise in violence and abuse of teachers.

A survey found teachers being spat at, headbutted, punched, kicked and having chairs thrown at them - while one claimed to have been beaten unconscious with a scooter.

NASUWT claims an "over-reliance on often ineffective restorative approaches" to managing pupil behaviour is exacerbating an increase in verbal and physical abuse from pupils in the last 12 months.

New research examining the scale of pupil behaviour concerns among teachers in Scotland, published today by the teachers’ union, has found that a majority of teachers report an increase in the issue.

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In February this year The Herald spoke to a whistleblower at Bannerman High School in Glasgow who told of the "failings" of restorative justice in the secondary, where alleged violence prompted staff to walk out on strike.

Now the union says a survey shows nearly four in 10 respondents reported experiencing violence or physical abuse from pupils in the previous 12 months.

Specific experiences include a teacher who was hit in the abdomen by a window pole and another teacher who was attacked with a scooter and kicked in the chest, resulting in unconsciousness.

Some 93% of NASWUT members said the number of pupils exhibiting physically violent and abusive behaviours has increased in the last 12 months.

While 94% reported receiving verbal abuse, including being sworn at, threatened with serious violence, including threats of being shot, and targeted with racial or sexual insults.

The union further said that 95% of members claimed the number of pupils verbally abusing staff has increased in the last 12 months.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said research shows schools are placing "sole responsibility" for poor pupil behaviour on teachers.

He said: "The culture of teacher blaming has become increasingly widespread, with employers failing to accept their responsibilities for promoting good order.

"It is clear teachers are not getting the protection and backup they deserve.

"We need concerted action at school and national levels to reduce the incidence of violence, abuse and poor pupil behaviour and restore calm to our schools.

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"A failure to tackle violence and abuse in our schools now will have long-lasting consequences, both in terms of teacher recruitment and retention and in equipping young people with the tools they need to become healthy, happy and successful adults."

Nearly four in five teachers told the union the ineffective use of restorative behaviour programmes in their schools is the biggest contributor to a decline in pupil behaviour.

Some 76% also cited a lack of proper policies and procedures in their schools to deter unacceptable behaviour.

Restorative approaches to pupil behaviour management have been increasingly adopted by schools in recent years.

The practice focuses on the use of structured conversations between staff and pupils to address incidents of poor behaviour, including physical and verbal abuse of staff and fellow students.

But 73% of members who said that their school uses restorative conversations between pupils and staff as a method for managing behaviour said they felt it was ineffective in dealing with behaviour incidents.

When asked what would most help them in managing pupil behaviour, 84% said pupils with behavioural issues being moved into specialist provision that better meets their needs.

More than six in 10 cited more in-class and external support in the form of teaching assistants and access to child psychologists and mental health professionals.

Nearly a quarter reported needing time off work due to the stress, physical or mental health impact of violence and abuse from pupils; And nearly half said they are seriously considering leaving as a result of violence and abuse from pupils.

Mike Corbett, NASUWT National Official Scotland, said: "While we are not opposed to the use of restorative approaches as part of a range of measures employed by schools to manage pupil behaviour, the feedback from members suggests that all too often restorative systems have become synonymous with no consequences or sanctions for poor behaviour for pupils. "Restorative approaches can have benefits, but they should not be used as a one size fits all approach to managing pupil behaviour, particularly incidents of serious violence and abuse.

"It is also clear from our survey that such approaches are frequently being applied inconsistently and that teachers are not being given the time or training to make such conversations impactful for all pupils."

Mr Corbett added: "We have been highlighting for some time to government the need for greater action to protect teachers from violence and to address the roots causes of the rise in abuse from pupils. Our actions have helped push the government into convening a National Summit on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools on 5th September in which we will be participating and giving evidence.

"We will be using this platform and continuing to take all steps, up to and including industrial action in individual schools, to support teachers’ right to work in safety.

"It is now incumbent on ministers and employers to recognise the scale of the problem and work with us to put changes in policy and practice in schools in place."