REPORTS of teachers and staff in schools being assaulted by pupils are thankfully rare, but from time to time incidents are reported in the media.

In March last year, the Oxford Mail decided to find out just how many assaults did occur in state schools in the county.

A Freedom of Information request to Oxfordshire County Council revealed teachers and staff had been assaulted by pupils more than 4,000 times between 2009 and 2013.

The statistics showed 2,406 assaults happened in primary schools, 425 and secondary schools and 1,329 in special schools.

Police were involved in five cases and pupils were suspended or excluded from school as as result of their actions on 246 occasions.

Most of the assaults were against school staff such as teaching assistants, with 2,980 compared to 1,180 attacks on teachers.

The statistics also showed a downward trend, with 260 assaults in 2013/14 compared to 1,245 in 2009/10.

At the time county council cabinet member for education Melinda Tilley said the authority was aware of the problems and had a committee which worked with unions and schools on the issue.

Last year John Howson, a county councillor stabbed by a pupil when he was a teacher, appealed for no “knee-jerk” reactions to the death of Ann Maguire in Leeds.

The mother-of-two, 61, lost her life after she was stabbed in her classroom at Corpus Christi Catholic College.

Mr Howson, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman on Oxfordshire County Council, said her death had echoes of the time when he was stabbed by a 15-year-old in 1977 when he was a teacher in Tottenham.

But he did not favour calls to introduce American-style metal detectors to schools on the back of the tragedy.

He said: “As a former victim of a classroom stabbing I can empathise with the feelings of those affected.

“But metal detectors should not be necessary in all schools, and we need to know more about the circumstances of this attack on a long-serving teacher before deciding how to respond.”

The perpetrator, Will Cornick, who was 15, was jailed for life with a minimum of 20 years at Leeds Crown Court last November.

Retired primary school deputy headteacher Rosemary Harris told the Oxford Mail the stories shocked her and did not fit in with her time in education.

She said: “There is not the respect there was for teachers years ago.

“There is such pressure on staff to train pupils to pass SATs that other areas of education are left behind. It’s sad more than anything. Many troubled children simply want to be noticed, accepted or loved.

“They don’t come into schools now at the same level they did years ago. Their vocabularies are poor and they haven’t had stories read to them.”

Cutteslowe Primary School headteacher Jon Gray also said he was surprised about the statistics.

Now, more than a year later, he said local authorities should have nothing to fear from releasing such information.

He said: “The only reason schools collect this data would be to see where the issues are and improve things.

“We collect data around behaviour but we do not have any assaults or anything like that.

“I can see no reason for the local authority not to release it.

“As long as individual schools are not pointed out it is fine.

“It is interesting that the Government is doing that [holding a commission into the Freedom of Information Act] because when parties are not in Government they like the Act.

“I do not see a reason why information should not be in the public domain. If data is used for the right reasons there is nothing wrong with it.”