YOU can't tackle violence in schools by inviting a pupil in for a "cup of hot chocolate and a chat when they've battered a boy in the playground".

Mike Corbett, the NASUWT Scotland national official, slammed Fife Council's new anti-bullying policy which says those who attack and abuse other kids should not experience "negative consequences" as that would be "ultimately counterproductive".

He spoke to the Press after meeting with the council leader, David Ross, and head of education Shelagh McLean about the rising levels of violence in the Kingdom's schools and a survey from his union that showed teachers here have been regularly punched, kicked, head-butted and spat at over the past year.

Asked about the anti-bullying policy, which was approved last week, Mr Corbett said: "We disagree with that approach. For us that goes too far and we're not happy with it.

"It's all very well for Fife to say they've got a trauma-informed practice and they try to understand the kid's background and where they're coming from, but it doesn't mean they can go about telling teachers to f-off or throwing chairs around the classroom and disrupting lessons.

Dunfermline Press: A teaching union has met with Fife Council to ask what they're doing to curb a rise in violent incidents in schools.A teaching union has met with Fife Council to ask what they're doing to curb a rise in violent incidents in schools. (Image: Newsquest)

"There's got to be zero tolerance towards violence.

"It can't all be 'Come and have a cup of hot chocolate and a chat' if they've just battered a boy in the playground.

"There needs to be serious consequences for serious misbehaviour."

Mr Corbett met council chiefs after the NASUWT’s Behaviour in Schools report showed that reported levels of verbal and physical abuse over the past 12 months are higher in Fife than the Scottish average.

READ MORE: Fife Council 'concerned' about increase in school violence

He said: "The one thing I would say about Fife is that, unlike some other councils, they've made it an easier and quicker process to report incidents, which may partly explain why the figures are higher than average, but it doesn't get them off the hook.

"It is a bleak picture.

"They accepted it's a serious problem that needs to be addressed and they can't carry on doing what they've been doing as that clearly isn't working."

Council figures show that, for the first 10 months of 2023, there have already been 3,637 violent incidents reported by school staff in the Kingdom.

In the whole of 2017 there was 1,221.

Mr Corbett said: "Some of the behaviour, if it took place outside the school gates the police would be involved.

"It's something we find is discouraged by schools, they want to keep it in-house and try and sort it themselves, but we've always encouraged who have been assaulted to report it to the police.

"Some of the stuff is really terrible."

The survey highlighted the strong belief that there is a lack of consequences for those pupils who lash out and he said many headteachers were afraid of excluding pupils in case the figures made them "look bad".

He continued: "At the meeting they pointed out it's not just a problem in Fife, and we agree with that.

"There is a post-pandemic issue where a lot of schoolkids have come back and don't seem willing to respect the same boundaries as before which means there are more abusive and violent incidents.

"Serious misbehaviour was an issue before the pandemic, it was just getting brushed under the carpet.

"Have things got worse post-pandemic? Yes they have, but don't forget it was a problem beforehand.

"Now it's really at crisis point, there's no doubt about it.

"It's putting people off teaching and half are saying they've almost had enough and are on the verge of leaving."