More than one in ten school head teachers have been physically assaulted by a parent or carer of a pupil at their school, according to figures released by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

Incidents include being punched, kicked, spat on, head-butted, bitten, attacked with chairs and tables and sexually assaulted.

Almost 75% of survey respondents said they had suffered verbal abuse or threats from a parent in the last five years. One in five (20%) said they had been victimised on a social networking site and more than 68% say parents’ behaviour towards teachers has worsened over time. Head teachers said in some cases parents have turned up at school drunk or high on drugs.

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT, said:

“Policy makers need to be aware that school leaders are not faceless bureaucrats who must be exposed to the public to help them ‘shape up’. They live and work in the cities, towns and villages that they serve. They meet parents daily inside and outside school, and they are instantly recognisable. Alone, in the school car park after a late governors’ meeting, parental pressure can take on a new meaning.

“The vast majority of families are a pleasure to work with, but not all. Emotions run high when children are involved. School leaders often have to make difficult decisions about discipline, exclusions, holidays and the distribution of limited budgets. Many come under unacceptable pressure designed to effect undue influence on them. All are dedicated to doing what is best for the children in their care. Some pay a high personal cost for this dedication.”

Mr Hobby added:

“Every now and again, someone tries to whip up indignation about heads’ salaries. This usually falls flat, because people recognise both the difficulty and the importance of the work they do. We’re comfortable with some forms of transparency on pay, because we know there is nothing to hide, but let’s think carefully about how this will play out in reality. It’s hard enough to get people to do the job as it is without subjecting them to further abuse from a small minority of ill-informed and ill-disciplined parents.”