A Model School Policy for Dealing with Abuse of Staff and Assault

Where a member of staff has been assaulted or verbally abused (including offensive language directed towards someone's race, gender, sexual orientation or disability) the member of staff should be temporarily relieved from any duties if he or she wishes. The member of staff should be advised of their right to consult their trade union. If necessary, he or she should obtain medical attention.

LA Schools: A Suffolk County Council Incident form must be completed. Criminal acts should be reported to the police.

Free Schools/Academies: School Management must have an H&S Policy stipulating how incidents and hazards are to be reported. Criminal acts by adults or older students should be reported to the police.

The Head/Senior Manager dealing with the incident should obtain statements from witnesses to the event, however, care should be taken to ensure that any police investigation which may be necessary is not prejudiced (e.g. by allowing any possibility of collusion between witnesses).  The Manager will seek an account of events from the pupil(s) involved in the incident, including witnesses, again taking care to avoid opportunities for collusion or conspiracy.  All records relating to the incident should be kept secure.

The member of staff involved will be advised to contact his or her Union prior to giving a written statement and to be accompanied when making such a statement.

If the assault is by a pupil, where appropriate, the pupil concerned will be suspended or excluded from the school.  If this cannot be affected immediately, the pupil will be withdrawn from normal lessons and special arrangements will be made to supervise the pupil pending the exclusion or other disciplinary action.  Where the exclusion is for a fixed period of time, discussions will be held concerning the arrangements for the pupil's return.  Members and headteachers are reminded of Government expectations that a child shall be permanently excluded from school for "serious, actual or threatened violence against another pupil or member of staff". There is no requirement for there to have been previous incidents recorded if the reason for exclusion is violent behaviour. See NUT booklet on "Unacceptable Pupil Behaviour" available from your NUT Secretary.

The assaulted or abused member of staff should be consulted and where the member of staff expresses the wish not to have the pupil re-admitted to any group that he or she supervises or teaches, all reasonable efforts should be made to accommodate the request. Where it is considered that this request cannot reasonably be accommodated there should be further discussion with the member of staff, accompanied by a Union representative if requested.

Minutes should be kept of any meetings held.  In the event of a dispute about these arrangements the matter should be considered by the Governors/Management Board/Line Manager, if necessary via the Grievance Procedures, before the pupil is re-admitted to the classes or groups concerned.

The member of staff will be offered the opportunity of a meeting with the pupil and his/her parents or guardians at the time of the pupil's return to school, subject to their agreement.

Published by Suffolk NUT


Note on Assaults and Violence against School Staff:

The following further advice is informed by casework in Suffolk where teachers have found themselves facing disciplinary or legal action as a result of the handling of an incident at work.

In addition to the our general advice about injuries at school, if acts of violence (including serious verbal abuse) are alleged or witnessed, the Head / Teacher in Charge / Line Manager should also:

1) Where the assailant is an adult or older pupil and the assault has occasioned actual or grievous bodily harm, inform the police and request that an officer investigates.  If there is a continuing risk of harm, where the pupil continues to act violently or where it is suspected that the behaviour is influenced by illegal drugs or alcohol, a police presence can be requested immediately.  Suffolk Constabulary have previously agreed with the LA to prioritise calls for assistance from public service employees when threatened with violence and the Union would therefore expect rapid response from the police in these circumstances.

2) Wherever the assailant is a pupil, both the Union and Government expect that child to be excluded immediately, unless there is some jeopardy to the teacher in so doing (e.g. clear evidence that the teacher had initiated the violent behaviour beyond the reasonable use of restraint.  Your school restraint policy should encourage full and frank reporting of restraint incidents and staff should be given guidance and training in how to restrain safely such as from the Schoolsafe programme.)

3) Complete a SCC incident form and inform the Appropriate LA Officer or Line Manager of the incident, making sure that they understand that a member of staff was assaulted.   [For Free Schools and Academies which have not purchased school support from the Local Authority, the Headteacher and Governing Body will need to make arrangements to ensure that staff are properly supported legally and professionally, including via a well-being programme, so the following guidance would still apply.] The victim should be allowed time to compose themselves before completing an incident form - if others are completing the form on the victim's behalf, they must ensure that the factual information reflects the victim's recollection of the incident(s).

4) Seek as much supporting information as is possible from witnesses, statements and any security systems available.

5) Advise the member of staff to contact his/her Union for advice and to register the incident. This is particularly important if the alleged assailant or third party may bring counter- charges.

6) Arrange for the victim to be accompanied by Head, Deputy or Union representative/legal adviser before and during any interview with the police, whether this be on school premises, at the victim's home or possibly at a police station.

7) In any situation where the teacher has had to restrain a pupil during the incident involving assault,  the teacher may be particularly vulnerable to professional consequences arising from police enquiries, including counter-charges brought by pupils.  Teachers should seek advice from their professional association before any interview with police or writing a statement. A "duty solicitor" may not be the best representation for such a situation.

8) Assist the staff member with the wording of any statement. (Victims can be confused and will be upset after violent incidents. If the case comes to court or an internal hearing, every word and nuance of a statement made at this time could be cross-examined by the assailant's defence: it will be the main evidence in any prosecution of the assailant.)

9) Arrange for the member of staff to be supported and informed of all developments, particularly if (s)he is not able to come to work.

10) Complete all the formalities for dealing with any injury (above).

11) The Head should consider the possibility of further incidents, and can request an injunction against an assailant (including verbal assault and those causing harassment, alarm or distress). For LA schools, such requests are made to the County Solicitor or successor.

12) If the assailant is prosecuted and the employee becomes a witness for a police prosecution case, ensure that the Crown Prosecution Service has properly briefed the employee.

13) Ensure that the employee witness also knows how to seek assistance from the Authority in preparation for the case.

14) Ensure that the employee has access to "Victim Support" to help with the rigours of a court appearance where the employee's statement and actions will be cross-examined and the victim will re-live a distressing incident.

15) The Head or LA caseworker should keep in contact with the police throughout and should ensure that the Police and Crown Prosecution Service are fully aware of the evidence and circumstances of the case.  Any information which the school can give the police and the CPS about the circumstances of the offence or the alleged offender, or the wider background to the offence will ensure that decisions can be made fairly and properly.  Home Office guidance says: "Depending on the circumstances of the case, the police may decide to take no action or to caution a person who admits the offence, or to charge. In deciding what action to take, the police must, in line with the Victim's Charter, take account of the views of the victim. .... Schools are entitled to draw to the attention of the police, and through them the Crown Prosecution Service, the implications for the pupil, member of staff or the school and the community general, where a pupil or member of staff is assaulted. The decision on prosecution, however, must be taken by the CPS."

16) If the CPS decide not to prosecute, the effect on staff morale can be intense and the Head should consider taking a separate action against the assailant, in accordance with Home Office advice: "If (the police or CPS) decide to take no action, it is then open to any other person, including the victim, the Head, the Local Authority, the governors or teacher unions and organisations, to start a private prosecution. The LEA may in addition be able to provide advice and support to schools wishing to pursue this action." Important: Under section 127 of the Magistrates Court Act 1980, a private prosecution for a summary matter must be pursued within six months of the offence being committed.

17) The NUT and UNISON believes that it is not appropriate for an employer to leave it to an employee to take a private prosecution for a case arising from the victim's employment.  It should therefore be the school (i.e. the Governing Body) which pursues a private prosecution for such a case, not the individual or the Union representing that individual.  We believe that the school, unit or centre has an institutional responsibility for ensuring that justice is done for a member of its staff. The Home Office Guidance encourages this approach and points out the County Council's legal department should advise the school on the steps to take.

Martin Goold (NUT) & Liz Sole (UNISON) 27/07/99 Revised: 13/10/99, 26/09/00, 04/01/02, 18/06/08, 09/09/2012


A Model School Policy for Dealing with Abuse of Staff and Assault

Where a member of staff has been assaulted or verbally abused (including offensive language directed towards someone's race, gender, sexual orientation or disability) the member of staff should be temporarily relieved from any duties if he or she wishes. The member of staff should be advised of their right to consult their trade union. If necessary, he or she should obtain medical attention.

LA Schools: A Suffolk County Council Incident form must be completed. Criminal acts should be reported to the police.

Free Schools/Academies: School Management must have an H&S Policy stipulating how incidents and hazards are to be reported. Criminal acts by adults or older students should be reported to the police.

The Head/Senior Manager dealing with the incident should obtain statements from witnesses to the event, however, care should be taken to ensure that any police investigation which may be necessary is not prejudiced (e.g. by allowing any possibility of collusion between witnesses).  The Manager will seek an account of events from the pupil(s) involved in the incident, including witnesses, again taking care to avoid opportunities for collusion or conspiracy.  All records relating to the incident should be kept secure.

The member of staff involved will be advised to contact his or her Union prior to giving a written statement and to be accompanied when making such a statement.

If the assault is by a pupil, where appropriate, the pupil concerned will be suspended or excluded from the school.  If this cannot be affected immediately, the pupil will be withdrawn from normal lessons and special arrangements will be made to supervise the pupil pending the exclusion or other disciplinary action.  Where the exclusion is for a fixed period of time, discussions will be held concerning the arrangements for the pupil's return.  Members and headteachers are reminded of Government expectations that a child shall be permanently excluded from school for "serious, actual or threatened violence against another pupil or member of staff". There is no requirement for there to have been previous incidents recorded if the reason for exclusion is violent behaviour. See NUT booklet on "Unacceptable Pupil Behaviour" available from your NUT Secretary.

The assaulted or abused member of staff should be consulted and where the member of staff expresses the wish not to have the pupil re-admitted to any group that he or she supervises or teaches, all reasonable efforts should be made to accommodate the request. Where it is considered that this request cannot reasonably be accommodated there should be further discussion with the member of staff, accompanied by a Union representative if requested.

Minutes should be kept of any meetings held.  In the event of a dispute about these arrangements the matter should be considered by the Governors/Management Board/Line Manager, if necessary via the Grievance Procedures, before the pupil is re-admitted to the classes or groups concerned.

The member of staff will be offered the opportunity of a meeting with the pupil and his/her parents or guardians at the time of the pupil's return to school, subject to their agreement.

Published by Suffolk NUT