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160 assaults recorded in schools a year

By Elgan Hearn | Mid Wales | Education | Published:

One hundred and sixty assaults have been recorded in Mid Wales schools in the last financial year.

Powys County Council

However, information on how many of the incidents have been reported to Dyfed-Powys Police is not known.

At Powys County Council's learning and skills scrutiny committee, councillors and independent members who are school governors discussed school exclusion numbers.

It is an area that Estyn - the Welsh school standards body - described as being "too high" for the past four years in its recent inspection report.

In 2018/19 the unverified number of exclusions was 463 which compares to 491 in 2017/18 and 313 in 2016/17.

Out of the 463 exclusions, 160 were for assault/violence against a pupil or member of staff.

Sennybridge Primary School governor and independent member Graham Robson said: “I’m guessing to get to the stage of an exclusion we’re not talking about two having a fight behind the bike shed, because, I hope that would be dealt with internally.

“We’re talking proper assault including on members of staff – perhaps we should be talking a harsher line?”

Council education officer Imtiaz Bhatti, replied that they looked at each individual case and were trying to find out if there are patterns of incidents so that the service can “provide additional support to schools.”

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Victims

“I hope to see the numbers come down but I see your point,” said Mr Bhatti.

Mr Robson continued: “We have 160 victims of assault and theoretically you have the attacker coming back.

“The bully or assaulter will be looked at by the pupil inclusion panel, there is a team around the family to look at them. And then I have the child that’s been slugged or a member of staff going home with a black eye or something else.

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“What’s being done to look after the victim?”

He added that someone in the service needed to reassure the committee that this issue is being taken, “very seriously”.

Mr Bhatti said: “It’s the headteacher’s role to make sure the pupils are comfortable coming back and to work with the young person and the family.

“If there is an issue it gets escalated to the local authority.”

Interim chief education officer, Lynette Lovell, said: “If there is an assault the headteacher can choose to inform the education authority that a violent incident has taken place – there’s an onus on the headteacher to give us that information, so that we can look at the health and safety aspect.

“There is no protocol it’s up to the school.”

Committee chair, Councillor Pete Roberts, said that there should be “a protocol to provide consistency”.

Councillor Roberts asked: “How many of these assaults are reported to the police?

Mr Bhatti said he did not have the information.

The report will go in front of a future cabinet meeting for discussion.

Elgan Hearn

By Elgan Hearn
@ElganPowysLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Powys.

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