A report published by trade union, UNISON, has revealed that more than half of British teaching assistants (TAs) have experienced physical violence at school in the past year.

The survey, completed by 8,211 TAs, found 53 percent have experienced, and 73 percent have witnessed, verbal threats in the classroom.

As well as verbal abuse, 76 percent of participants witnessed physical violence at their school in the past 12 months, with some afraid to go to work in case they suffer a serious injury. One TA noted that they had been “kicked, punched, slapped, head butted and insulted verbally by children”.

The report also showed that the violence and abuse largely came from students, however some incidents involved parents, with 31 percent of teaching assistants experiencing verbal abuse from a pupil’s parent.

Across Britain, more than a quarter (27 percent) of school support staff said their workplace either did not provide adequate training to address behavioural problems, or this training had never been offered to them.

UNISON has said that a reduction in staff numbers caused by budget cuts, as well as a general “lack of resources”, has left schools unable to deal with behavioural issues.

Gerard Stilliard, head of personal injury strategy at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Through our work with victims of violence in the workplace, we know that the effects of an assault at work can result in both physical and long-term psychological effects.

“Violence and abuse should never feature in the workplace, regardless of a person’s profession, yet this report suggests that incidents of this nature are at extremely concerning levels in schools.

“Employers have a responsibility to protect their staff, but without proper funding, schools are unable to maintain safe staffing levels, or even provide training to help staff deal with challenging classroom environments.

“Anyone working in an understaffed environment can be particularly vulnerable to a violent attack, and the government must urgently address the lack of resource to best protect teaching assistants, and all staff, working in schools.”