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(Ireland) Cork SPED teachers assaulted by students; more funding needed

April 2, 2024, Echo Live: Cork students with special needs ‘not being resourced properly’ 

CORK teachers have called for better funding for special education as the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) released a survey showing the prevalence of physical aggression against teachers.

Survey respondents said that “biting, scratching, pinching, and hitting happen on a daily basis”, with one teacher saying they had to seek medical treatment for a fractured finger as a result of an assault.

A total of 440 participants from schools across Ireland completed the survey, which found that 58% of respondents reported experiencing physical aggression.


The survey found that 96% of respondents working in special schools reported experiencing physical aggression, as did 61% working in mainstream schools with a special class and 42% of those working in mainstream schools.

Of those exposed to aggression, 50% sustained physical injuries, with 41% of those injured requiring medical attention, and 11% of teachers affected missed more than three days of school as a result of physical aggression.

“There is a big problem with physical aggression, teachers shouldn’t have to work in those conditions, but we all want to support the children in our care,” incoming INTO vice-president Anne Horan, a native of West Cork, told The Echo.

“Children with special needs are not being resourced properly, and these behaviours are not the fault of children or parents but a lack of investment in therapeutic services. . . . 

Inadequate support

Former INTO president John Driscoll from Cork city said that teachers understand that the incidents “are not the fault of the child” but of inadequate Government support. . . . 

He added that as well as providing additional supports for students, the Department of Education should ensure the provision of comprehensive training for teachers on managing aggression and supporting children with additional needs.

Other anonymous INTO members shared: “All incidents were as a result of pupil dysregulation... Increased availability of supports for pupils and access to staff training would have helped considerably”, and “I fear that physical assaults will become more prevalent in teaching if supports for vulnerable learners continue to be diluted”.

The INTO’s annual conference continues until tomorrow in the Millennium Forum Theatre and Conference Centre, Co Derry.


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