SCOTLAND'S Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth has announced £900,000 of cash for councils to help train school staff to deal with “the new challenges in our schools post-Covid”.

The Education Secretary, herself a former teacher, promised the new funding in the wake of a major new study which revealed how more than than one in 10 staff have had to deal with physical violence from a pupil towards them or another classroom worker in the last week.

However, Scotland’s largest teaching union claimed the new funding “won’t nearly touch the sides” of violence in the classroom as the cash split will amount to just £360 per school.

The Education Institute of Scotland (EIS) said they "look forward to learning what further resource will follow" the statement on Wednesday.

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Tory education spokesperson Liam Kerr accused the Education Secretary of having “plenty of talk but precious few solutions” to the problems of violent and disruptive behaviour in Scotland’s classrooms as he questioned: “How much training can be provided for £28,000 per council?”

Kerr added: “There’s still no new specific guidance for school staff, no review of exclusions policies, and there is no plan for dealing with attendance issues.”

Gilruth told him it would be for councils to “decide on the training they think will be appropriate” for school staff, with her statement coming in the wake of the Behaviour In Scottish Schools Research (BISSR) report which was published on Tuesday.

It revealed that just over a third of staff had experienced general verbal abuse from students in the past seven days, while 16% had had to deal with physical aggression, and 11% saw physical violence towards themselves or another classroom colleague.

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Gilruth said in response that “the status quo is not an option”, as she told MSPs: “We have to commit to a plan for improvement.”

A national action plan would be developed, she pledged, which would set out a “range of practical suggestions and solutions”.

With a perception that there were “limited consequences” for bad behaviour in schools, Ms Gilruth said it was for local authorities to identify their own approaches to this.

But she stated: “The Scottish Government will provide support of £900,000 for local councils to use to support training for their staff in responding to the new challenges in our schools post-Covid.”

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Her comments came as she insisted the pandemic had “not created challenging behaviour” in classrooms, but had instead “exacerbated the conditions which allow it to flourish”.

Meanwhile, Gilruth added that the cost-of-living crisis meant more children were “going to school hungry”, with youngsters also more likely to be anxious or stressed and then “bring this with them to school”.

She used her statement to Holyrood to encourage school staff “in the strongest possible terms” to come forward and report “all incidents of inappropriate, violent or abusive behaviour in our schools”.

While she accepted doing this would mean the recorded numbers of such incidents would increase initially, she insisted it was “necessary for us to strengthen the evidence base in order to inform improvements”.

Gilruth told MSPs: “Let me be clear – violence in Scotland’s schools is unacceptable, it is unacceptable for the staff in our schools and for the young people we entrust in their care.

“It is essential that pupils and their families are reassured our schools are safe, consistent learning environments for our young people and for those who work there.”

But Labour’s Pam Duncan-Glancy spoke of her “disappointment” with the Scottish Government on the issue.

She said: “Many of the issues mentioned have been known for a long time, so I imagine school staff, pupils and parents will be wondering why the announcement today is for the development of a plan, rather than a plan.

“At a time when leadership is needed, today’s statement feels a bit like the Cabinet Secretary believes she is a bystander.”

Meanwhile, EIS general secretary Andrea Bradley said that the statement “did not contain a great deal of detail on the practical steps to be taken and the increased support to be delivered to schools to tackle pupil indiscipline, aggression and violence.”

She added: “The Cabinet Secretary did announce an additional £900,000 for training, to be split between Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

“This amounts to less than £30,000 per local authority or worse still, £360 per school. It won’t nearly touch the sides.

“We look forward to learning what further resource will follow to fund the employment of additional teachers and support for teachers, as they endeavour to meet the needs of children and young people amidst environments that are putting their health and safety directly at risk at the same time as underlining the quality of pupils’ learning.”