School leaders have been spat at and threatened by parents as abuse has reached “a disturbing level”, a union conference has been told as a North East trustee helped pass a motion to launch a new campaign to tackle said abuse.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) annual conference heard that some schools have had to call the police following threats from parents.

A motion passed at the conference called on the union to launch a national campaign to raise awareness of the threatening and abusive behaviour which school leaders face at the hands of parents and carers.

Debra de Muschamp, from the Sunderland branch, who proposed the motion, said complaints from parents have “taken on a more sinister complexion”.

Addressing the conference in Newport on Saturday, she said: “Stories of leaders suffering all kinds of abuse and threats from some parents and carers have reached a disturbing level.”

Ms de Muschamp said some school leaders have considered leaving the profession following “unacceptable” abuse from some parents.

She said: “It’s harassment, it’s bullying, it’s abuse. We want to call it out now before it becomes the norm.”

The motion, which was passed unanimously at the conference, noted that NAHT members in Sunderland had seen a rise in “verbal and intimidating behaviour” against them and school staff.

It said: “This behaviour is now almost commonplace and indeed our school leaders see it as a normal part of their school life.”

During the debate, Toni Dolan, from the Barnsley branch, said harassment and abuse of school staff by parents “happens almost on a daily basis”.

She said: “If you’d told me nine years ago that I would be harassed, threatened, humiliated and, as of last month, now spat upon by parents and carers I would never have believed it.”

Ms Dolan, who raised the issue with her police and crime commissioner (PCC), said: “The police are stretched I appreciate that, but if they cannot protect us, as leaders we need to protect ourselves and those colleagues that we lead.

“We have to be proactive in protecting ourselves and the teachers and support staff that we work with and lead.”

Another school leader told the conference that he had been threatened by a parent this year following an argument “over a game on a playground”.

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The headteacher – who reported the threat to the police – said: “We cannot allow as a profession such behaviour to continue unabated and unchecked.”

The motion, which was passed on Saturday, said the levels of threat and intimidation from some families are “resulting in a police presence in the school, legal action and school staff suffering high levels of stress and anxiety”.

It added that school leaders are “scared to go on the yard” at the end of the day and are anxious when certain parents appear at the school office.