More teachers 'hitting the panic button'

Published Friday, 04 April 2014
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The Ulster Teacher's Union has said more of its members are facing tougher environments in front of the blackboard and panic buttons are being installed in more local classrooms.

More teachers 'hitting the panic button'
The union has called for more support for teachers. (© Getty)

The UTU is holding its annual conference in Newcastle and has said more teachers are having to deal with abusive pupils.

Schools across Northern Ireland are believed to have systems in place to help teachers in threatening situation with one newly built facility using panic buttons to alert other staff to potential problems.

UTU President Stephen McCord said: "The myth that teachers had a panic button under their table is becoming a reality.

"But it's not every school, it is just some schools."

He added: "We hear of two or three cases every week of violence in a classroom.

"We are now getting these panic buttons brought in as a way to support the teacher. We also need more resources, more training and more classroom assistants to support teachers.

"It is a sensitive issue and we would call on the Department of Education to support us."

The union said it had a good working relation with the education minister.

John O'Dowd, who announced his department would be spending £183m across the school's estate next year at the conference, played down the idea that panic buttons should be issued in schools as standard.

The Sinn Féin MLA said: "I wouldn't like the image being portrayed of our schools having panic buttons and major problems with pupils - that is not the true picture.

"There is individual schools, at times, that face problems both within and outside the school.

"Of course it is the responsibility of me as minister to protect the welfare of our teaching staff and pupils."

He added: "We need to engage with the unions and the boards of governors to work through these issues.

"But social issues are not left at the school gate, so we all have to work to address these hard challenges which are facing many elements of our society."

© UTV News
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