CONCERNS have been raised over the levels of violence being faced by teachers at schools across East Renfrewshire.

More than 900 attacks on teaching staff were recorded in the area’s schools over the four years covering 2013/14 to 2016/17.

And the number of verbal attacks during the same period was almost 200.

East Renfrewshire MP Paul Masterton and Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw have now written to council chiefs to express their concerns.

Mr Masterton told the Barrhead News: “All actions must be taken to ensure East Renfrewshire teachers are protected from physical and verbal attacks.

“I have written to East Renfrewshire Council chief executive Lorraine McMillan, with Jackson Carlaw MSP, to raise our concerns about the rise in these incidents, which we trust the council is aware of and is taking pro-active action to bring down.”

Mr Carlaw added: “Any incident, whether physical or verbal, against a teacher must be treated in the most serious manner.

“No-one should be expected to go to work and face abuse.”

Figures obtained by the offices of Mr Carlaw and Mr Masterton under Freedom of Information legislation show the number of physical attacks on teachers at East Renfrewshire schools soared by almost 200 per cent between 2013/14 and 2016/2017.

Thankfully, none of the incidents involved a weapon.

Most related to pupils with additional support needs.

Teachers are able to report incidents via an ‘Online Accident Incident Reporting System.’

Mr Carlaw added: “It is important to recognise that the majority of physical incidents relate to pupils with additional support needs, whose actions must be viewed in the context of their individual situations.”

An East Renfrewshire Council spokesman said the local authority has a “zero tolerance approach” to violence at work.

He told the Barrhead News: “We take all incidents of this nature in our schools extremely seriously.

“It should be noted that the vast majority of such incidents relate to children and young people with significant additional support needs. As such, we continue to provide training for all staff to ensure pupils’ needs are met and their communications understood.

“As a result, we are seeing a significant reduction in these types of incidents. Where such incidents do occur, they are thoroughly investigated and reflected upon and, where appropriate, action and changes in approaches for individual children takes place.”

A spokesperson for the EIS teaching union added: “The EIS works positively with East Renfrewshire Council on all matters relating to school discipline, which continues to be treated as a priority in our schools.”

East Renfrewshire is widely regarded as having one of the finest schools systems in Scotland, with pupils in the area regularly outperforming others around the country when exam results are published.