Khunjulwa Mfunyelwa, who teaches at Woodlands Primary School, said a pupil had smashed her in the face with a packet of samp (white mielies) during a class experiment.

"I have been here for four months, but it feels like a year. It was on May 10 that the incident happened. I reported the pupil and she was suspended. The following day she came back to school, and she has been here ever since.

"No parent came, and she is still misbehaving. The level of bullying is too high. The children are violent, and serious intervention is needed to examine the root cause of their behaviour.

"We are also parents, we are worried about them and we wish the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) can work with social workers."

Mfunyelwa said other teachers who had been there for longer than her felt helpless, but were too scared to speak out. Others had left the school.

"A subject adviser for the senior phase came to school last term and told us she had not seen such rudeness or behaviour in any other school. She said she doubted if the children would pass with good grades.

"At the moment another teacher is in trouble because a child lied and said she called them baboons in class. I was there; I know the child is lying. When children swear at us and threaten us nothing happens, but when a teacher is accused of saying something then serious action is taken. We are not valued, and the department is failing us."

Department spokesperson Paddy Attwell said it viewed the intimidation and assault of teachers in an extremely serious light.

"National regulations define these kinds of incidents as serious misconduct that could have severe consequences for the pupils allegedly concerned. We give training and support by school psychologists and social workers and supporting schools in developing School-Based Support Teams, as required, to address specific pupil challenges."

Attwell said their Safe Schools division provided extra-mural youth development programmes to build the capacity for positive behaviour, addressing aggressive and violent behaviour, including bullying. He said their Safe Schools Call Centre arranged counselling for pupils, as required, while teachers needing counselling support could approach their Employee Wellness Programme.

The department has a policy called Abuse no More "that provides clear guidelines on how to deal with various forms of abuse, including bullying", he said.