At­tacks more than dou­ble in a year

West Lothian Courier - - Front Page -

New fig­ures show a shock­ing surge in vi­o­lence in West Loth­ian’s high schools with the num­ber of vi­o­lent in­ci­dents more than dou­bling in a year.

The num­ber of in­ci­dents re­ported went up in seven of the 11 high schools and were re­ported to the coun­cil’s gov­er­nance and risk com­mit­tee on Mon­day.

A ta­ble ti­tled ‘Phys­i­cal as­saults by school premises as a ra­tio against the num­ber of pupils in the school roll’ showed the num­ber of in­ci­dents more than dou­bling, from 42 to 91.

Coun­cil leader Lawrence Fitz­patrick called the fig­ures an “eye-opener”.

Whit­burn Academy re­ported one in­ci­dent in 2016/17 and 24 in 2017/18 .

In Brox­burn Academy, the num­ber of in­ci­dents rose from 10 to 23 over the same pe­riod.

At In­veral­mond Com­mu­nity High School, they rose from 13 to 17.

There were also in­creases re­ported in St Mar­garet’s Academy, Bath­gate Academy, Ar­madale Academy and St Kentigern’s.

Three schools re­ported a drop in­clud­ing the new West Calder High School – where there was a 92 per cent drop from 12 in­ci­dents in 2016/17 to one in 2017/18 – Deans Com­mu­nity High School and Lin­lith­gow Academy. There was no change at James Young Com­mu­nity High School which re­ported four in­ci­dents in 2016/17 and 2017/18.

The lo­cal branch sec­re­tary of the EIS teach­ing union claimed the real is­sue was the need for more money and re­sources in

schools. He said: “We need more money from Gov­ern­ment to help chil­dren with ad­di­tional sup­port needs, not only in spe­cial schools, so we can sup­port chil­dren prop­erly un­der the in­clu­sion pol­icy.”

Teach­ers have wel­comed im­proved re­port­ing pro­ce­dures. The EIS rep said: “The union dis­cusses the stats at its reg­u­lar health and safety com­mit­tee. It is not a them and us sit­u­a­tion. We are work­ing very closely with the coun­cil.”

James Cameron, head of ed­u­ca­tion ( learn­ing, po­lice and re­sources), told the meet­ing the fig­ures re­flected a shift in record­ing of in­ci­dents.

He said later : “We are com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing our schools are a safe en­vi­ron­ment for pupils and staff.

“We have worked with our schools to im­prove re­port­ing of phys­i­cal as­saults to give con­sis­tency across the lo­cal author­ity area.

“This has in­volved tran­si­tion­ing to a new on­line sys­tem which makes it eas­ier to re­port in­ci­dents. Schools have been en­cour­aged to make sure all rel­e­vant in­ci­dents are logged.

“Im­proved re­port­ing is es­sen­tial but the sta­tis­tics can fluc­tu­ate based on lo­cal fac­tors, so we would look to have mul­ti­ple years re­port­ing on the new sys­tem to iden­tify trends in par­tic­u­lar schools.

“Bet­ter data on in­ci­dents will al­low us to have a com­plete pic­ture of as­saults in our schools.

“We do not un­der­es­ti­mate the chal­lenges work­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment with young peo­ple with com­plex needs and work to sup­port our head­teach­ers and staff.

“It is also im­por­tant to note that our schools are safe learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment and that the vast ma­jor­ity of young peo­ple are well be­haved and en­gage with their ed­u­ca­tion.”

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