A NEW report commissioned by the Scottish Government has found that violence and bad behaviour in Scotland’s schools is rising significantly, with more pupils and school staff increasingly facing aggression.

The Behaviour In Scottish Schools Research (BISSR) states staff and pupils are dealing with rising incidents of sexist and verbal abuse as well as physical violence. Two-thirds (67 per cent) of teachers and school support workers reported having encountered verbal abuse between pupils within the past week.

Andrea Bradley, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said the report confirmed the results of the union’s own survey which identified “a significant rise in incidents of violence and aggression in our schools”.

Ensuring schools are a safe place for staff, pupils and visitors must be a high priority. Government should be duty-bound to give a strong lead. However, the Scottish Government’s response to the report was underwhelming to say the least.

Staff and pupils do not need warm words on this critical issue – they need quick and decisive action to address the growing problems and ensure our schools are safe for everyone.

Retail workers have also been campaigning on the violence and abuse they face all year round, but especially during the busy festive period. Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has reported that 42 per cent of its members have been threatened by a customer in the last year.

This is totally unacceptable. Like all workers, retail staff have an absolute right to do so safely without being subjected to violence, abuse or threats.

So, of course, the shop local message continues to be vitally important at this time of year and I urge East Lothian residents to continue supporting local businesses. But all of us should do so with respect and consideration for their staff.