The Queensland Government has furiously defended its education record as figures show more than 1,500 of the state’s students were suspended or expelled in the last 15 months for assaulting teachers.
The figures, revealed by the Queensland Opposition at a budget estimates hearing this week, included 174 incidents that led to WorkCover claims.
Queensland’s shadow Education Minister, Tracy Davis, said the figures were cause for concern, adding that “any assault on hardworking teachers was one too many”.
“How can we encourage more bright Queenslanders to become teachers when they can't ensure their safety in the classroom?” she said in a statement.
Queensland’s Education Minister, Kate Jones, defended the government’s drive to improve education in the state, saying it had been working to address the issue, launching the ‘respect our staff, respect our schools’ campaign.
However, the LNP dismissed the campaign as “a glossy brochure”.
“No one deserves to be bullied or threatened at work, and that includes our teachers,” Jones said in her own statement, which followed the LNP's.
“We need to work together to set positive examples for our children, and demonstrate respect for staff and our schools.”
The issue led to a heated exchange between Jones and Davis during the hearing, where the Education Minister defended state schools from what she said was an unfair attack.
“I also really think that it is important to get on the record that 99% of students in state schools are good students,” Jones said.
“They are students who come to school to learn, to engage, and they are lifting their circumstances through education.
“I will not sit here and take a line of questioning that is attacking every single student in our state schools.
“It is offensive to me and offensive to the good people who work at our schools.”
Deputy director-general, Patrea Walton, said it was a nuanced issue, as the figures included teachers and staff who “may be assaulted in the course of trying to support a student with complex and challenging behaviours”.