We often talk in our blog about the importance of really understanding who is working alone. At first glance, it may not seem as if many in education work alone, remotely or out-of-sight of colleagues. But there are plenty of roles where school-sector employees may find themselves working alone frequently or just occasionally. While maintenance and caretaking staff often work out-of-sight of colleagues, teachers may stay behind late to write a lesson plan. With the start of a new academic year, let’s look at lone-working educators and how to support them.
Half of lone working educators face aggression
Government figures show that, in November 2018, there were nearly a million staff at state-funded schools in England. Of these, just under half were teachers, 27% were teaching assistants, and 24% were other support staff. If you factor in the school workforce in other countries in the UK, and the private education sector, the total UK school workforce is at least 1.5 million strong.
Sadly, incidents of violence at schools in the UK are reported to be on the rise. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) surveyed over 1,500 teachers in state schools on pupil behaviour in 2014. More than half of teachers had faced aggression from pupils in the previous year, and over a quarter had experienced it from parents or carers. Even if most such incidents occur when there are other staff members on site, they may still be out of sight.
The problem of attacks in UK schools is not restricted to teachers, as support staff are also under threat. According to research by the trade union GMB in 2017, 54% of teaching assistants have been physically abused, assaulted or attacked at work. And 18% of assistants polled say they are attacked at least once a week, with almost a quarter also saying they are verbally abused. Teaching assistants are rarely alone within the working day, but may be alone when retrieving their car or accessing public transport.
Local authorities, academy chains and private institutions need to step up
So how can education-sector employers protect their staff against such physical and verbal abuse? One key step is to make sure that the sector is sufficiently staffed to provide learning support for all young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Training on dealing with challenging behaviour and conflict resolution will also be helpful in many instances.
The other obvious action which employers can take is to implement a lone worker safety system such as Safe Hub. This can provide a vital source of proactive support to deal with everyday scenarios of abuse and violence in schools. Safe Hub can provide teachers and other staff with discreet access to emergency help if they need it via Red Alert. And it can also deal with staff who slip, trip or fall while on school property, thank to the Worker Down feature.
The main focus for thinking about schools is usually as a learning environment for the young people being educated. But it’s no less important to think about schools as a workplace. For lone working educators and school support staff, schools need to be a place where they are protected from abuse, violence and other everyday risks. And with Safe Hub, schools can move towards this goal.
To find out more about how Safe Hub’s safety features can protect lone working educators, contact Lone Worker Solutions and the Safe Hub team today
Post by Henry Robinson
Henry is Senior Account Executive at Lone Worker Solutions (LWS). He works with existing clients and introduces new clients to Safe Hub, our award-winning system to protect and monitor lone workers. Safe Hub supports lone and remote workers on the widest possible array of BS8484:2016 Gold Certified devices. It is a package of buddy, proactive, reactive, broadcast and virtual barrier protection for lone workers.