Investigating experiences of violence towards teaching assistants in schools

Are you a teaching assistant or a classroom assistant working in a mainstream school?

Have you ever experienced aggression or violence from pupils and/or their parents/carers on two or more occasions?

Would you like to take part in a research project which could help identify how school staff could be supported through such experiences, and to help prevent such incidents from happening?

What is this project about?

This project aims to find out how teaching assistants experience and manage violent and/or abusive behaviour towards them from pupils or their parents/carers. This is an issue that has not been researched before in the UK, yet we understand from survey research that it is a problem for many teaching assistants working in mainstream schools. We would like to find out more about it from their perspective. Your views will be used to gain insight into this problem, help raise awareness of it and help identify ways of addressing it.

Who are the researchers?

The Principal Investigator on this study is Dr Amanda Holt (University or Roehampton) and the Research Associate is Dr. Jenny Birchall. Both researchers have previously researched and written about aggressive and challenging behaviour from children and young people, including research in schools. Amanda’s work has been influential in shaping UK Government policy around young people’s violence towards parents.

What will the research involve?

The research team want to know about your experiences of aggressive and/or violent incidents towards you instigated by pupils and/or their parents or carers. It will be through an interview where we will ask you about your working life, the context of the violent incident(s) (what happened and how you dealt with it), its impact on you and how others responded to it. The interview will take place over telephone or Skype at a time and place that is convenient for you – daytime or evening, weekdays or weekends.

Everything you tell the research team will be strictly confidential and no identifying features (e.g. names, schools) will be made public and the project has been approved under the procedures of the University of Roehampton’s Ethics Committee. The research team will write a report that summarises the participants’ views. We can send you a copy of that summary if you would like.

What happens next?

You do not have to take part in this research – it’s up to you. However, we hope that you will. You can contact Jenny ( or Amanda ( directly to discuss further and/or to arrange an interview.