Preventing and tackling violence in schools project (2008)

The safety and health of teachers is a priority of ETUCE. ETUCE believes a school should be a safe, healthy and propitious place for teaching and learning. Schools are the workplace of teachers, but first and foremost they are educational institutions for young students. Occupational health and safety problems can thus be harmful not only for the workforce (teachers and other staff in education), but can indirectly harm the pupils and put at risk the quality and efficiency of the education provided.

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The main objectives of the project were to provide teacher unions with information on the Autonomous framework agreement on harassment and violence at work approved by the European social partners in March 2007, and to provide teacher unions with information measures on the implementation of this agreement at national level in all EU/EFTA countries. In addition, ETUCE intended to exchange and analyse good practices existing in different European countries on how to tackle violence in schools and to examine their transferability to other countries. Finally, an important objective was to develop an ETUCE policy on the issue of violence in schools.

A Steering Committee was set up in order to guide the project implementation. This body was composed of two representatives from the ETUCE Secretariat and five representatives from the project partners - one per teacher union (see below).  Among these partners, a project coordinator had been foreseen and appointed in order to provide the policy input and guidance to the project.

The first step in the implementation of the project was to identify key topics on which the project partners would gather relevant information and good practices from their countries. The ETUCE report "Preventing and tackling violence in schools" was intended to be a tool for debate during the first project seminar. The first section of the report contains an introduction on the project aim. The second part explains the different definitions on violence and harassment according to well-known researchers (i.e. Di Martino) and international organisations (i.e. World Health Organisation), the European legislation (Directives 2000/43/EC, 20000/78/EC, 2002/73/EC) and the European autonomous Framework Agreement on Harassment and violence at work. The third section of the report focused on the legal frameworks from the five targeted countries (Bulgaria, Spain, Sweden, England and Wales and Germany), explaining the existing legal treatment of violence and harassment at workplace and, specifically, in schools. The fourth section concentrated on analysing the information provided by the project partners on the key topics identified, which finally were: training teachers and school management, school action plans and school curriculum and partnership solutions (involving parents, teachers, head teachers, universities, centres for out-of-school activities and various cultural institutions; mediation, etc). The fifth and last section briefly explained the work of the unions' partners in the project ion the issue of violence in schools.

The first seminar of the project took place in Madrid on 3rd and 4th April 2008. The aim of this seminar was to discuss the ETUCE report "Preventing and tackling violence in schools" and to launch the debate on violence in schools among the ETUCE member organisations.


Subsequently, the ETUCE Implementation guide for teacher trade unions and the ETUCE Action Plan on Preventing and tackling violence in schools were developed by the ETUCE Secretariat in cooperation with the project partners.

Concerning the ETUCE Implementation guide for teacher trade unions, it was intended to be a tool in order to support teacher trade unions to better understand the content and implications of the European Framework Agreement, and to give some examples of implementation. The ETUCE implementation guide defines preventive approaches and security approaches to be taken in the schools. As regards the preventive approaches, some measures to be put in place are mentioned: teacher training, school curriculum including subjects to improve pupils' behaviour, small class sizes, mediation specialists, educational assistants, etc. Whole school development policies are essential when dealing with preventive approaches. Action plans or protocols should be elaborated in cooperation with teachers and all educative community. Work place risk assessment should be used to analyse the situation and identifying the hazards at the work place. Emphasis is put on the importance of a well-trained school leadership. Concerning the security approaches, some measures are also suggested: school guards, telephone help lines, police interventions in the school, registers for victim support, etc.

Regarding the ETUCE Action Plan on Harassment and Violence in schools: this document contains the policy position of ETUCE regarding the issue of violence in schools. ETUCE recognises that schools are in general orderly places in which children and young people as well as teachers and other education workers do feel safe. However, when violent incidents occur in schools they obstruct teaching and have a malign influence on the working environment of teachers and the quality of education of pupils. In addition, the education sector is one of the public sectors where employees are more affected by violence (see the statistics from the European Working Conditions Survey in the introduction). ETUCE believes that work must be done in order to continue preserving schools as safe places for teaching and learning. The policy paper intends to set the basis from which ETUCE will be working on this topic during the following years at different levels: European, national/regional, local/provincial and school levels.

The final conference of the project, which tool place in Sofia on 9 and 10 June 2008, had as two main aims to discuss the ETUCE Implementation guide and draft the ETUCE Action Plan. This policy paper was finally adopted by the ETUCE Executive Board on 11 and 12 November 2008.


EU flagThis project has been carried out with the financial support of the European Commission