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Swift action calls on school violence

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Swift action calls on school violence
SWIFT action needs to be taken to protect the safety of children and education staff in Dumfries and Galloway schools, a councillor argued this week.

North West Dumfries Councillor Paula Stevenson shared her concerns about their physical and mental health at Tuesday’s full council meeting.
This comes after it was revealed that there were 662 violent incidents in our region’s primary schools last year – a massive increase on pre-pandemic figures.
Tabling a motion on the issue at the full council meeting, Councillor Stevenson said: “There isn’t anarchy in our classrooms but there is a growing trend and an immediate concern. This has been highlighted by parents, teachers, pupils and union representatives.
“Violence in schools is a concern right throughout Scotland and sadly our schools, staff and pupils are not exempt.”
The matter was discussed in the Scottish Parliament in May and education secretary Jenny Gilruth vowed to organise a special summit to tackle the violence in schools issue.
However, progress has been slow and there have been no updates on when the summit is likely to be held.
It was explained that the Scottish Government has not gathered data on violence in schools since 2016.
Councillor Stevenson said: “Since then, we have seen major upheaval in our children’s lives, although we cannot pretend that Covid, lockdowns, and the cost-of-living crisis have caused all the problems, they have significantly impacted our children’s lives – from missing important social milestones to affecting their mental health.
“The figures for recorded violence in primary schools between 2019-2020 are 458 in primary school and 23 in secondary, with 33 floating incidents.
“We can see the figures for the last financial year in front of us. There has been a significant increase – a jump of 204 more incidents in primary schools.
“We cannot pretend that this is business as usual and that is why this summit and report are so important. Things have changed in our classrooms, and we need the information that tells us what has changed since 2016 from the people actively involved in education and our children’s lives – the teachers, pupils, unions, and parents.”
Councillor Stevenson added: “The disruption violence causes to all our children in classrooms will not help close the attainment gap, nor help recruitment and retention of education staff.
“It will severely affect the mental health for those within the classroom setting and that just isn’t good enough. Our children and education staff and teachers deserve to be safe in our classrooms.”
Councillor Stevenson sought support from her fellow councillors for the council to demand that the Scottish Government presses ahead urgently with the violence in schools summit. This received full backing and council chiefs will now make contact with government ministers calling for the summit to be held as quickly as possible.
A report will also be produced for the council’s education committee in September providing more details on the violent incidents within the region’s schools.

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