Wales

Neath Port Talbot primary teachers 'may need bodycams'

Body cams are regularly worn by police officers and emergency services Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Body cams are regularly worn by police officers and emergency services

Primary school teachers may need to start wearing bodycams to tackle an increase in violence from children, a councillor has warned.

Steve Hunt, who is also chairman of governors for Blaendulais Primary School and a governor at YGG Blaendulais, said there were problems across Neath Port Talbot.

He said there were increasing numbers of pupils with behavioural issues.

In 2017/18, 528 pupils were excluded, up from 440 the previous year.

One primary school teacher said they had been the target of aggression several times.

"I've had my face clawed with fingernails," the teacher said.

"I've had a child try to headbutt my nose, I've had fingers slammed in a door. Kicks and punches are quite common - even being bitten."

When attacks are happening the teacher said "you just tend to deal with it and try and stay calm. That is the quickest way to help the children get back to a good place".

Mr Hunt raised his concerns at a recent cabinet scrutiny committee of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

"There's increasing aggression towards teachers and teaching assistants in our primary schools," he said. "This is quite alarming to say the least. I'm well aware of a number of cases personally.

"We are getting to the point where in order to feel safe teachers may need to wear body cameras - like traffic wardens and the police - so they have got the evidence to support what they're saying to officials and officers of the local authority."

He added: "There are children in schools that shouldn't be in these schools - the underlying problem is the time it is taking for children's assessments to be done."

The council's head of transformation, Andrew Thomas, said work was ongoing with schools to ensure they followed the correct reporting processes following incidents of aggression to staff.

He highlighted that a number of specialist facilities had opened for children who displayed "extreme behaviour" in recent years, adding there were plans for a new centre for children with autism spectrum disorder at Dwr y Felin comprehensive school.

"In the future we will probably have more specialist facilities," Mr Thomas added.

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