'I cannot believe this is happening at a main stream school in Edinburgh, it’s abhorrent' - Mother's shock at delayed response to 'racist' pupil

The concerned mum said a 15-year-old boy has been called out on several occasions in the last few months for racist attacks on black pupils, but little is being done to crack down on his disturbing behaviour.

Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 7:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th September 2020, 1:54 pm

A mother said she is furious after hearing about repeated racial abuse incidents at her child’s school and seeing nothing done about it.

Catherine Ross has a daughter at a high school in the south-west of the city who she claims has been subject to violent verbal abuse and threats from one of her classmates.

The concerned mum said a 15-year-old boy has been called out on several occasions in the last few months for racist attacks on black pupils, but little is being done to crack down on his disturbing behaviour.

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Police said they'd been made aware of the issue.

“This teenager threatened to rape my daughter on Monday and then stab her afterwards,” Ms Ross said.

"It’s just one boy who has been disruptive and abusive at the school for years now, but this was the final straw for me.

“It’s a horrible feeling sending your daughter into school after she’s been threatened like this.

"He sent a message to pupils saying he was going to bring a knife into the school grounds. I can’t just shrug this kind of thing off.

“My daughter’s guidance teacher told me that he didn’t ‘think’ the boy was going to do it. That’s not exactly reassuring, and it’s not enough.

"I cannot believe this is happening at a main stream school in Edinburgh, it’s abhorrent.”

Evening News has seen a video of the teenager in question sitting in a classroom racially abusing one of his peers.

During the video the boy is asking the person holding the camera to film a black girl as he says “n****r” repeatedly in the background.

"Are these pupils expected to just brush this kind of abuse off during their school day?,” Ms Ross said.

“Other parents are telling me that this teenager is making their children suicidal because of the way he behaves and his incessant use of degrading language. It can’t be going unnoticed in the school.”

Ms Ross claims pupils have been trying to raise the racism issue with teachers for several months now, but they are not being heard.

She told the Evening News that last year a schoolboy was forced to leave the state school and move house after being abused by the teenager in question.

"The school says it can’t take responsibility for cases that occur away from premise, but this boy is at the school, everyday, making the lives of Firrhill pupils miserable. I think it does have something to do with them, especially when he’s threatening to bring a knife into the grounds and use it.”

Firrhill High School says it deals with allegations of racism immediately, but Ms Ross claims to have reported incidents months before.

Evening News has also seen screenshots of emails to and from Ms Ross and her daughter’s guidance teacher where she is clearly showing her concern about the boy's behaviour in relation to other pupils in May and July this year.

"There hasn’t been immediate action on this which is shocking,” Ms Ross added.

"The school can of course do something to make sure the environment is safe for these children, but it hasn’t yet. These children are basically being left to just let it go, shrug it off. It’s vile.

"At what point and at what cost do they keep protecting this one child? At what point will the school turn around and think actually, dozens of other children are suffering hugely because of this one boy.

"I have never seen anything like this go on before living in Edinburgh or expected something like this to be going on for months, even years.

"I hope something is done and that the children can feel heard and that they feel safe and protected, because right now, they don’t.”

After speaking with Evening News Ms Ross contacted the police and said she is in discussion with her daughter’s guidance teacher more frequently about the racist remarks.

She has also started a petition to urge “staff and the headteacher of the school to stand up and protect its pupils and hear the voice of its pupils.”

A City of Edinburgh Council spokesman said: “We treat allegations of racism very seriously in our schools and are committed to improving the lives of all young people. We need city and council wide action to tackle racism and it’s important we strengthen our commitment to tackling the issue by supporting pupils and colleagues through strong anti-racist leadership and teaching in our schools.

"This is about a change of culture and systems. The school does not tolerate racist behaviour, will take action to ensure the safety of young people and continue to deal with any incidents seriously.”

A spokesperson for Police Scotland added: "Police have been made aware of a number of issues regarding pupils at a high school in Edinburgh and enquiries are at an early stage to establish the full circumstances.”

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