Half of UK teachers have experienced harassment by students online

Half of teachers (49%) have been the target of inappropriate use of online devices and social media by students, according to new survey conducted by classroom management and safeguarding software provider, Impero. A similar number (43%) agreed that this type of behaviour is on the rise in UK schools.
 
Around one-fifth revealed they have been approached online (22%) or followed on social media by their students (21%), while 15% have been filmed without permission in the classroom. One in ten have been abused online (11%) and the subject of student group chats (11%).

Charlotte Aynsley, safeguarding expert at Impero, says:

“It’s not news to safeguarding experts that teachers are often on the receiving end of cyber-bullying, but the extent of the trend is unsettling – especially since harassment of other students is also on the rise. A natural curiosity from children will quite often lead to social media interactions such as follow requests from students; teachers therefore have a responsibility to ‘protect’ their identity so they can’t be obviously found on social media. They should also follow the professional standards around not allowing students to befriend them to prevent any unwanted interactions.”A teacher with a pile of books on her head
 
She adds:
“In today’s world, you can simply pick up a mobile phone, create harmful or inappropriate content, and share it to a wide audience online without being held accountable. Whilst schools play a critical role in educating students about online safety, the long-anticipated Online Safety Bill will be a huge step towards a safer online world for both adults and children – making platforms more accountable for the harmful content being disseminated.”

Growing teaching pressures

The survey of 500 UK-based primary and secondary school teachers, also found that the vast majority (89%) have considered leaving the profession as they face growing workplace pressures and classroom challenges.

The most common reasons teachers have considered quitting:

 
·         Excessive workload (67%)
·         Anxiety and stress (53%)
·         Salary expectations (40%)
·         Lack of support from the school (30%)
 
However, almost one-fifth (17%) cited harassment by students as a key reason, while just 14% expressed a loss of interest in teaching itself.

A call for improvement

The research also found that the majority of teachers also believe their schools need to improve on issues such as teacher safety and wellbeing (71%), staff retention (65%) and diversity, equity and inclusion (52%).
 
Other areas where teachers called for improvement were:
 
·         More effective classroom management technology (69%)
·         Academic performance (66%)
·         Student safety and wellbeing (60%)

Justin Reilly, CEO, Impero and former headteacher, says:

“Teachers have a job unlike any other. Their workloads seemingly increase year-on-year, especially with the continued rise in concerns around student behaviour, academic performance, and safeguarding. There are clear actions which can be taken to remove everyday stresses if we are to empower teachers and retain them. After, all the top reasons for wanting to leave are not linked to losing interest in teaching but are instead rooted in safety and wellbeing concerns.
 
“It is vital to create a safe and open environment for teachers to work effectively and feel valued. This means reviewing practices for engaging, protecting and retaining teachers, as well as swiftly addressing emerging safeguarding issues, such as the myriad of online abuse which we know can cause great harm to both students and teachers alike.”