Teachers at a Scottish school are having pay deducted and have been sent home after refusing to work with “violent” additional needs pupils.
The unprecedented action came after complaints of physical assaults and a “constant stream” of verbal abuse from eight children at Kaimes School, in Edinburgh.
Violent attacks are understood to have included chairs and signs thrown at teachers, causing injuries with police called in on some occasions.
The eight pupils are understood to have spent last week in a class together with seven pupil support assistants.
The NASUWT union said 11 of its members from the school have now been refused entry to their classrooms by the local authority over their stance.
However, City of Edinburgh Council hit back saying employees could not “pick and choose” the pupils they wanted to teach.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “The teachers, and indeed other pupils at the school have, month after month, faced violent physical assaults, a constant stream of verbal abuse and threats and malicious allegations. Equipment has been smashed and classrooms trashed.
“Rather than supporting the teachers to deal with these pupils, the council instead has embarked on a campaign of aggressive and punitive actions towards the teachers, simply because they have dared to stand up for what is right.
“This is one of the most disturbing cases I have ever experienced of an employer failing in its duty of care, not only for staff, but also for the pupils at the school.”
Ms Keates said no teacher should go to work with the expectation of being verbally and physically abused.
The council said a plan had been developed and implemented over the summer to deal with challenging behaviour at the school, which has 85 members of staff and 96 pupils.
A council spokesman said: “The council has been trying to engage with NASUWT at all levels to discuss any concerns they have and we are disappointed that they have failed to respond positively to date and decided on this course of action.
“We cannot have a situation where staff decide who they are and who they are not willing to teach as this would be contrary to their terms of employment.
“We remain committed to working with staff to ensure we improve attainment and wellbeing while also delivering a positive working environment for both teachers and pupils.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the situation at Kaimes School was a matter best resolved by discussions between the council and NASUWT.
She said: “We encourage both parties to negotiate a solution as soon as possible to allow the pupils’ education to continue.”
Meanwhile, education officials in West Lothian reported a rise in violent incidents in schools.
The number of physical assaults more than doubled from 42 to 91 in 2017/18.
The number of reported incidents went up in seven of the council’s 11 high schools. Three school reported a drop.
James Cameron, head of education, said the figures reflected a shift in recording of incidents.
He said: “We have worked with our schools to improve reporting of physical assaults to give consistency across the local authority.
“A new online system has made it easier for staff to report incidents and schools are encouraged to make sure all relevant incidents are logged.
“Better data will allow us to have a complete picture of assaults in our schools.”
A spokesman for the local branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland said unions were working closely with the council on the monitoring of incidents.
He said: “The real issue is that we need more money from Government to help children with additional support needs, not only in special schools, so we can support children properly.”
Source : HeraldScotland