NASUWT conference will hear how special school teachers 'at breaking point'
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MANY teachers at special schools are reaching "breaking point", the NASUWT conference in Belfast will hear today.
The teaching union is due to discuss the pressures facing members working at special schools across the north, with many working long hours and taking bigger classes.
Amid fears by members that there is a growing "acceptance by some employers that being assaulted by pupils is part of the job", the union said it wants to highlight the "unacceptable conditions experienced by those working in the sector".
Today's annual conference will see a motion debated that states that NASUWT members in special schools "believe that the situation in special schools has reached a crisis point which is not sustainable in the longer term and where remaining staff are at breaking point".
It says there has been a "huge rise in the numbers of pupils being accepted into special schools with highly complex needs, including those likely to be violent and teachers are not getting the specialist training and support they need".
Justin McCamphill, NASUWT national official, said: "Our members in special schools believe that the situation has reached a crisis point which is not sustainable in the longer term and where remaining staff are at breaking point.
"Teachers are routinely facing levels of violent behaviour and injury at work. Our members believe this is directly connected to funding pressures of special school."
This weekend will also see members debate issues affecting the teaching profession and education, including pay, violence against school staff and budget cuts.
The union says a motion calling for menopause policies to be put in place in all schools and to raise awareness among employers and school leaders will also be discussed.
It states that employers are still failing to recognise the impact which the menopause can have on many women and schools are often ill equipped to make reasonable adjustments to allow women to manage their symptoms.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: "Many employers have been far too slow to recognise how the menopause can affect teachers. This has often meant teachers have felt they have had to hide their symptoms.
"This has to stop and employers need to ensure they have policies in place which recognise this as an issue affecting all women and reasonable adjustments can and must be made to ensure teachers are supported.
"Despite it being a recognised occupational health issue, the menopause is still too often shrouded by employers in ignorance and embarrassment, leaving women unable to get the support and adjustments they need."