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(Ireland) Teachers given 'assault leave'; SPED students make up 25% of enrollment

Dec 1, 2018, ExtraIE: 33 teachers took leave this academic year after being assaulted by pupils A total of 33 teachers were granted ‘assault leave’ in the academic year 2017/18, with 31 of these incidents involving students with special needs, a new study has found. The worrying figures have renewed calls for schools to provide more supports for students with special needs and their teachers. The figures from the Department of Education show that of the 33 assaults, two were considered ‘deliberate’ attacks. A spokesman for the Special Needs Parents Association last night said that to avoid such assaults, focus should be placed on children with special needs receiving the supports they require. She added that further training on how to practically deal with such behaviour should also be provided to schools. One primary school teacher, who wishes to be known only as ‘Mary’, told that she is regularly kicked and bitten by one of her third-class pupils, who has been diagnosed with severe emotional behavioural disturbance. ‘It is estimated that up to 25pc of the school-going population are students with special education needs,’ an ASTI spokeswoman said. ‘Internal school supports such as guidance and counselling were cut during the recession and have not been fully restored. External supports can also be difficult to access.’ She has called for teachers to be given more training on dealing with students at risk of engaging in such assaults.

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