A trade union has called for children with learning difficulties to be schooled separately amid claims teachers are being attacked on a “daily” basis.
Moray Unison believes the drastic step is necessary to prevent its members suffering at the hands of pupils whose conditions affect their behaviour.
Union leaders have claimed that school furniture such as tables and chairs are regularly used as “weapons” to attack classroom assistants, along with other items like scissors and pencils.
The union said some of its members are falling victim to “physical and verbal abuse sometimes multiple times a day”.
Branch secretary Suzanne Wright yesterday called for the local authority to draw up an action plan to segregate children with additional support needs in response to the rising level of violence in the area’s schools.
She said: “What is needed is an investment in proper facilities for children with behavioural needs to go to, instead of putting them in mainstream schools which affects education for everyone and the safety of our staff.”
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Polly McWalter, who created Parentable, a local parent support group for kids with additional needs, believes that a separate school would be a good idea but only in some cases.
Ms McWalter, who has a son and daughter on the autistic spectrum who go to Forres Academy, said: “There’s just not enough provision at all schools in Moray as there are no specialists or anything so I would like to see more teachers or a school.
“Currently there is just one option for children and that is mainstream education and there is no alternative so it would be nice to have choice as while it suits some ASN children, it does not for others.
“The teaching at Forres Academy is OK, but the lack of training for staff to deal with kids is terrible. My daughter has been excluded several times just so extra training can be done.”
Health and safety statistics collected by Moray Council revealed a huge rise in the number of violent incidents involving school staff.
During 2018, 980 incidents involving pupils were recorded, an increase of 48% from the previous year.
Now, Moray Unison is demanding that the local authority act quickly to protect staff from verbal and physical abuse.
A survey was issued during March to all employees whose employment brings them into contact with children to give the council an insight to the levels of violence and abuse and how they feel about dealing with it.
Early indications from this research showed that a number of support staff including pupil support assistants, janitors and catering staff reported that “they simply did not have the time, given the nature of their roles, to deal with such conditions at work.”
Kelly Kinlin, Unison representative and steward for education and social care, who is also a pupil support assistant (PSA), said: “I fear for the safety of our already stretched support staff.
“Although PSA’s have a very rewarding job they are also in a vulnerable position being subjected to both physical and verbal abuse sometimes multiple times a day.
“I have grave concerns for the health and wellbeing of support staff as well as Moray Council failing to educate children at a level they are entitled too.”
Branch secretary Ms Wright added: “The indication we get from our members is that they need more help as we get so many reports of PSA’s being bitten, punched, threatened with scissors on a daily basis and it is very concerning.
“The issue needs to be addressed as currently it is a sticking plaster that is not sticky anymore.”
Former school teacher and Speyside Glenlivet councillor Derek Ross insisted changes did have to be made, but that the council needs the money to do that.
He said: “We need to get it right for every child and if disruption is being caused that is too great and can’t be contained within a mainstream school, then a specialist school has to be an option.
“We cannot move pupils out of the authority and need a base for these children as education is not working for everyone at the moment and certainly not for teachers and pupil support assistants who have been subjected to violence.
“There are already a lot of resources put in but we need to see whether they can be better used and also where we can get funding to make changes.”