Staff working in fear as pupil attacks rise

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Teaching unions have called for urgent action to deal with the level of violence staff experience at a troubled school.

Assaults on teachers, including kicking, scratching and even urine being thrown, have become commonplace at Oxgang School, in Moray Place, Grangemouth, which currently has 25 teaching and support staff catering for ten assisted support need children.

Now the Falkirk Local Association of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), with the support of Unison, has written to Falkirk Council’s director of education after Oxgang staff reported over 100 violent incidents in a six-week period following the summer break.

Colin Finlay, Falkirk EIS joint secretary, said: “It’s clear there are serious issues that must be addressed at Oxgang School. It is simply unacceptable for staff, who are experiencing increasingly frequent instances of assault such as kicking, scratching and urine thrown at them from some pupils, to have their concerns ignored by the people who should be taking steps to protect them.

“The issue of redeployment has often been raised, if staff are felt to be filling in too many accident forms. This is a shameful situation, which indicates Falkirk Council has been more concerned with brushing these incidents under the carpet rather than taking steps to address the reasons behind them.

“The EIS remains eager to engage constructively with management in the school and the education directorate to agree a shared plan for the school.”

Councillor Alan Nimmo, council education spokesperson, responded: “Safety for our staff and pupils is our highest priority in all our schools and we will act on any concerns brought to our attention.

“Meetings have already taken place with both employee and trade union representatives regarding the concerns and an action plan is being developed with them to address all of the issues raised.”

Two years ago the school was reportedly in crisis with staff moving on and some of the pupils, who range in age from five to 11, being forced to attend specialist schools outside the district.

The council carried out a review at Oxgang School at the end of 2014 and took a number of actions at that time, including moving a number of pupils into “more appropriate learning environments” at other locations.

SNP group leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “I’ve had a number of meetings with the education director over concerns about incidents which have happened at both Oxgang and Carrongrange schools.

“I was unhappy with his response and I’m seeking a further meeting with him to try and get to the bottom of these issues which do not appear to have been fully addressed.”