Classroom aggression against primary school teachers ‘totally unacceptable’ - Foley

“It is unacceptable at any point that this would be an experience for teachers."
Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

11.38 2 Apr 2024

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Classroom aggression against p...

Classroom aggression against primary school teachers ‘totally unacceptable’ - Foley

Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

11.38 2 Apr 2024

Share this article

A rise in physical aggression against primary school teachers in the classroom is “totally unacceptable,” the Minister for Education has said.

An Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) survey last week found that 58% of primary school teachers experienced physical aggression in the classroom, with that figure rising to 96% in special needs schools.

Half of those exposed to aggression sustained physical injuries, with 41% of those injured requiring medical attention.


On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Education Minister Norma Foley said her department is trialling a new policy combatting classroom aggression in some schools that could soon be rolled out nationwide.


She said assaulting a teacher “is never acceptable”.

“We have a policy in relation to that and that policy is being trialled in special schools at the moment,” she said.

"It is important that in specific issues, we trial them first and then roll them out across the entire country.

“It is unacceptable at any point that this would be an experience for teachers.

“More importantly, from a teacher’s point of view, the necessary training required will be provided in terms of supporting behavioural concerns in schools.”

Teacher vacancies

Minister Foley said the issue of teacher vacancies in Ireland is “not unique” to the sector.

“We are seeing this in other sectors too,” she said.

“We are a country in near full employment and it’s important to recognise that and not underestimate the challenge for schools.

“It’s more pronounced in some areas than others but we have taken proactive steps and measures.

“For example, there is a new pay deal which means young teachers starting out have a salary of €46k and the top rate is going to €85k.

“We’ve also introduced more than 8,000 additional jobs since 2018.”

Teaching abroad

INTO General Secretary John Boyle told Late Breakfast yesterday that there was a "teacher supply crisis" in the country as almost 5,000 Irish teachers are currently working abroad.

He was speaking ahead of the INTO national conference taking place in Derry this week where over 1,000 delegates from north and south of the country are meeting to discuss teaching in Ireland.

Minister Foley said the Department has introduced a “plethora of innovative changes" to keep Irish teachers from leaving the country to work in the likes of Dubai and Australia.

“We have introduced upskilling courses; we have lifted restrictions on teachers on a career break and retired teachers,” she said.

"Perhaps the most effective have been new pathways for trainee teachers, student teachers, and we now have almost 4,000 of them coming onstream which is an enormous addition.

“It’s also quite significant to say we have more teaching posts than ever before, more teachers in the system than ever before and we have reduced the pupil-teacher ratio to a historic low of 23 to 1.”

The INTO estimates there are around 2,000 vacancies across primary schools in Ireland.

Main image: Norma Foley visits St Matthew’s National School, Sandymount in Dublin in August 2023. Image: Leah Farrell / Photocall Ireland

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