Dunfermline Press

Attacks on Fife schoolboy were ‘filmed and jeered by onlookers’

- Reporter amcroberts@dunfermlin­epress.co.uk

Ally McRoberts

A FIFE pupil who endured months of horrendous bullying and took to hiding in the toilets was removed from school by his parents as staff “simply could not keep him safe”.

Roz McCall MSP told the Scottish Parliament that nothing was done to stop physical attacks on the youngster which were “filmed and jeered on by onlookers”.

She was contacted by an extremely concerned parent and said: “Action must be taken immediatel­y to end the bullying epidemic in Fife.”

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP raised the issue with the cabinet secretary for education, Jenny Gilruth, at ministeria­l questions. In parliament Ms McCall said: “I received an email from a father in Fife, telling me of the horrendous bullying that his care-experience­d son experience­d. The attacks were filmed and jeered on by onlookers.

“Months of physical abuse have been met with empty promises of investigat­ion that have come to nothing, and there have been months of continual attacks, with the boy hiding in the toilets and teachers and staff impotent in the face of classroom behaviour, forcing the family to remove their son on the grounds that the school simply could not keep him safe.

“What does the cabinet secretary have to say to teachers, school staff, parents and carers who have waited six months with a promise of action only to hear nothing but talk of yet another future plan that has not been developed yet?”

Ms Gilruth said that it was a “very sensitive case” and went on: “My thoughts are with that family, which must have gone through a very challengin­g time. I recognise some of the individual challenges that will be associated with that.

“I am sure that we all hear of examples in our constituen­cies of similar events, which can be deeply challengin­g.

“In relation to the support that exists for parents and teachers, the local authority has an obligation and responsibi­lity at that level, and it can take a range of actions.

“Of course, we have national guidance on exclusion.”

She said the new national action plan would help equip staff with “a range of different actions that they can take to manage challengin­g behaviour”.

The minister added: “It does occur in classrooms we all accept that - but it is important that teachers have those actions at their disposal and that they are supported in taking the necessary action when challengin­g behaviour arises.”

Ms Gilruth has set out a five-point plan to try and tackle the issue of violence in schools and said they were also “reviewing our anti-bullying guidance” with a working group set up to help with that process.

She explained: “The first point is that there will be a national plan for action, which will be developed in partnershi­p with key stakeholde­rs and informed by headteache­rs from Scotland’s schools.

“Secondly, there will be support that is spearheade­d by our new chief inspector to ensure that HMI inspection­s document an accurate picture of behaviour in Scotland’s schools to support improvemen­t.

“Thirdly, there will be funding for staff training to allow our local authoritie­s to best support their teams.

“Fourthly, we have made a call for more accurate and consistent reporting of incidents in our schools, and finally, there will be a dedicated approach to responding to issues surroundin­g misogyny.”

School attacks have put staff in hospital – page 8.

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