I've been spat at and kicked in the head, says teacher
A TEACHER from a Dublin school has said she has been head-butted, spat at, kicked in the head and had a fire extinguisher thrown at her in the classroom.
Tracey Whyte, from Clones, Co Monaghan told the INTO conference in Ennis that during the course of the current school year she has suffered 20 physical assaults and that there were a total of 60 assaults against staff at her school.
Ms Whyte told delegates that she is a teacher at a school for children with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties.
"I have been head-butted in the face on more than one occasion, punched in the nose and face; received a kick to the head more than once, been thumped in the arms; kicked in the legs and repeatedly punched in the stomach.
"Children have spat in my face repeatedly. I've had my wrist twisted causing me difficulty to write and I've had a fire extinguisher thrown at me.
"It is not the children's fault. They can't help it. We are not blaming the children," said Ms Whyte, who stressed that she loves her job.
"Nobody deserves to be physically assaulted. However, the greater assault and insult is that when I'm assaulted, I have to use my own personal sick leave and I've to pay for it as well," she said.
Dublin City South East delegate, Miriam Mulkerrin said that assaults are not confined to the special needs sector.
She said she was aware of "a seven-year-old biting, kicking and sinking teeth into a teacher's arm, necessitating a doctor's visit".
Teachers voted for a nationwide ballot for industrial action if the Department of Education doesn't exempt 'assault leave' from normal sick leave entitlement by next January.
However, executive INTO member, Brendan O'Sullivan told delegates the Dept of Education has confirmed that assault leave will not be combined with sick leave for the purpose of reducing sick leave pay.
"If I were to list five issues on which we should consider balloting for industrial action, this would not be among them," Mr O'Sullivan told delegates.