In what is believed to be a first in Scotland, a union has accused the city council of “bullying and intimidating” staff as 11 teachers at Kaimes School in Liberton are refusing to provide lessons to eight pupils over physical and verbal assaults.
Violent attacks by students are understood to have included chairs and signs being thrown at teachers, causing injuries with police called in. Staff experienced in working with children with special needs have been brought in to cover.
Edinburgh City Council spokesman said they are continually reviewing how they support their teachers at challenging times in the classroom, but stressed they “can not have a situation” where staff decided who they can and can’t teach.
However, many Edinburgh Evening News readers have lambasted the council’s decision.
One reader, Debbie Young, said: “As a parent to special needs kids I totally agree with the teachers. Kaimes is not the right school for children who are so aggressive and disruptive. There are other schools with teachers who are trained and equipped to deal with violent pupils, it’ll all come back to lack of funding in those schools and no places being available!”
Another, Pau Line, said: “I completely support the staff’s actions here. It’s about time teachers and support staff stand up for their rights to not be abused in the workplace.”
Jacqui Donald wrote: “No one should have to put up with being assaulted at work and IMO (in my opinion) that includes teachers and teaching assistants.”
And Ania Chendo said: “I’m a care assistant and the amount of verbal, sexual and physical abuse we received on daily bases is huge. Including reference to sex, figure, race, nationality. Yet, if you complaining you would be named as ‘not fit for this job’ and offered to leave. No support what so ever. ‘Its part of the job!” All for very little money needless to add.”
“Fully support those teachers!”
Another reader, Ali Bali Broon, said that the council should “put their money where their mouth is” and put more support staff in classrooms to let teachers do their job, because the current situation is leading to teacher and pupil stress and creates a “vicious cycle.” They added: “It’s not an acceptable situation and hardly a new one - it’s been allowed to get worse and worse.”
But Tony Contini said: “I look after a guy who is autistic, and has epilepsy. He’s proven to (have) violent behaviour when he is leading up to a seizure, he has to go private after the care assistants at a home he was at refused to ‘come into work to be abused .’ It’s absolute nonsense, you are trained to deal with these things, it’s the red tape brigade again!”
Shaun Burnett said: “Totally support the council here. Every child deserves love, care, understanding and education. This requires more admittedly. This school looks after some of the most in need. Poor wee kids. They aren’t being bad, they have conditions!!! Can’t do it? Don’t apply.”
Lindsay Fox Anderson also said: “I know it is not right that they have to continually put up with physical abuse, but I would imagine that they should be able to or willing to work with the children, and appropriate mental health staff, and try and get to the bottom of the problem.
“If the children do have mental health issues, then they need all the help that they can get. I maybe sound a bit controversial, but I don’t mean to, when I say that if that is the line of teaching you choose to go down, then you surely must be prepared for this kind of situation.”
Sara Chambers, who said the school has helped her own son “immensely,” said some of the online comments about the situation made her feel “uncomfortable.”
She said that all teachers are trained to deal with the needs of each child and to handle the situation appropriately, adding: “Don’t comment on what you don’t know, this kind of situation arises in ALL schools, not just schools for children who need and deserve extra support to be able to actually attend a school where they are supported, safe and welcome just as much as the staff.
“I don’t condone violence in any way, however no one should be afraid to go to their place of work for fear of being abused in any way, neither should any pupil be afraid to attend school for the same reason.”
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