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Union wants action after rise in classroom violence; Education: Call for pupils with learning difficulties to be taught separately.

Byline: DAVID WALKER

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 school furniture such as tables and chairs are regularly used as "weapons" to attack classroom assistants.

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 a plan to segregate children with additional support needs in response to the rising level of violence.

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."

Polly McWalter, who created Parentable, a parent support group for kids with additional needs, believes a separate school could 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 (additional support needs) children, it does not for others."

Health and safety statistics collected by Moray Council revealed a huge rise in the number of violent incidents.

During 2018, 980 incidents involving pupils were recorded, an increase of 48% from the previous year.

Now, Moray Unison is demanding the local authority acts quickly to protect staff.

A survey was issued in March to employees whose employment brings them into contact with children to give the council an insight to the levels of violence and abuse.

Early indications showed a number of support staff including pupil support assistants, janitors and catering staff reported "they simply did not have the time 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, said: "I fear for the safety of our staff.

"Although PSAs have a very rewarding job, they are also in a vulnerable position being subjected to physical and verbal abuse sometimes multiple times a day."

Former teacher and Speyside Glenlivet councillor Derek Ross insisted changes did have to be made, but the council needs the money to do that.

He said: "We need to get it right and if disruption is being caused and can't be contained within a mainstream school, then a specialist school has to be an option."

"There's just not enough provision at all schools in Moray"

CAPTION(S):

CONCERN: Suzanne Wright, branch secretary of Unison, wants more done to protect school staff. Photograph by Jason Hedges

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Publication:The Press and Journal (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Date:Jun 6, 2019
Words:506
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