Scottish mother takes son, nine, out of school over safety fears

Emma MacLean and son Rhuaridh, nine, who she has taken out of school as he was scared for his safety. Picture: Greg Macvean
Emma MacLean and son Rhuaridh, nine, who she has taken out of school as he was scared for his safety. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A mother-of-three has taken her son out of primary school after the family GP diagnosed him as suffering from anxiety due to the violence and aggression he witnesses on a daily basis in class.

Emma Maclean withdrew Ruairidh, nine, from lessons on 17 May after the terrified youngster told her, “I’ve had enough, I’m not learning and I get distracted with the shouting”, and said he never wanted to go back.

Ruairidh is in a P5 class of 29 pupils at a primary school in West Lothian, six of whom have care plans for their additional support needs.

The class is also on its fourth teacher since term began last August.

In December, Ruairidh was hit in the back by a flying chair thrown by another pupil.

Since then he has witnessed a child with “anger issues” holding scissors to his own throat in front of the class, threatening to kill himself; regular fist fights between two of the children who set each other off, and chairs, books and fire extinguishers being thrown, as well as one nine-year-old being hit on the back of the head with rocks.

In one incident, a P5 child was kicked in the ribs in the playground while his young attacker shouted: “I’m going to kill you if you won’t kill ­yourself.”

On one occasion the whole school assembly was stopped and all the pupils were evacuated while a P5 pupil was dealt with after launching a microphone into the crowd of ­children.

A clearly shaken Ruaridh, who was on the verge of tears, said yesterday: “I feel like something is going to happen any minute, and when it does happen I feel like I don’t want to be in it.

“They throw chairs about and hit other people and it’s scary – the teacher blocks when one of the boys is going to throw a chair and tries to stop them throwing it.”

Ms Maclean, who lives in Winchburgh with Ruairidh and her other children, Poppy, 11 and baby Lexie, 15 weeks old, said she was meeting with West Lothian Council on Monday to discuss the issues.

She said Ruairidh had told her everything was “fine” when she asked him previously, but then admitted he hadn’t mentioned how bad it was because “you had just had the baby”.

The family doctor has agreed that Ruairidh should not return to school until things are sorted out.

Ms Maclean said: “Why have things been allowed to reach such a crisis point where normal children are suffering from anxiety owing to mismanagement in this school?

“Last Friday I had to remove Ruairidh from school and he has not been back since. He quite literally broke down, shaking and crying, when he arrived home owing to his school life being so miserable.

“He is worn out and is in constant state of fear of being attacked or hurt by something that is thrown at him, and is also very conscious that his lessons are repeatedly interrupted. I am shocked to say that our GP diagnosed my son with anxiety – at nine years old.

“Since removing him I have learned that there are three other children in his class who also are suffering from anxiety. It is a daily battle for their guilt-ridden parents to put them into school, but what else can they do when they have to work?”

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “The council is committed to the education and welfare of all our pupils.

“We are aware of this case and will be meeting with the parents of the pupil in the near future.

“It would not be appropriate to comment further.”