West Lothian mum will ‘fight’ to keep son in school after violence led to anxiety diagnosis

A mother-of-three who took her nine-year-old son out of primary school for his own safety has vowed to “fight my corner” if he wants to return.

Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 7:00 am
Emma MacLean and son Rhuaridh (9) who she has taken out of school as he was scared for his safety. Pic: Greg Macvean

Emma Maclean withdrew son Ruairidh this month from his P5 class of 29 pupils, six of whom have additional support needs, at the school in West Lothian. She met with council chiefs on Monday, who outlined two options – one in which Ruairidh returns to class with a resolution to his problems being sought, and the other that would see him leave and go to another primary school in the same area.

The terrified youngster has been diagnosed with anxiety by the family GP. Ruairidh claims to have witnessed a string of incidents including a child with “anger issues” threatening to kill himself with a pair of scissors. The class is on its fourth teacher since last August.

His mother withdrew Ruairidh, from lessons on May 17 after he told her, “I’ve had enough, I’m not learning and I get distracted with the shouting”, and said he never wanted to go back.

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He has also told her of regular fist fights between two of the children who set each other off, and chairs, books and fire extinguishers being thrown, as well as one nine-year-old being hit on the back of the head with rocks.

Ms Maclean, who lives in Winchburgh, said despite acknowledging there were problems, the council could not provide a guarantee that things would improve.

She said she would “fight my corner” if Ruairidh wants to stay on at the school.

She said: “I would be sad for Ruairidh’s sake if he was to leave because he has attended there since his nursery years and it’s been the hub of his education to date.

“So, with his interests in mind, it would be better for him to finish his primary years at the school he’s very familiar with. He also loves the teacher he currently has.”

Ms Mclean added: “The easiest fix for the council right now would be for me to take Ruairidh and put him into another primary school.

“Ruairidh is still off school and I need to take the options back to him to find out what his preferences are and what he feels like doing.”

Ms Mclean said in one incident a P5 child was kicked in the ribs in the playground while his young attacker shouted “I’m going to kill you if you won’t kill yourself”.

She said she felt the needs of certain pupils in Ruairidh’s class are greater than the care that can be provided in a “mainstream” school.

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “These are very serious concerns being raised by Emma. West Lothian Council must fully investigate these allegations and ensure that all pupils are safe in school.”

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “The council is committed to the education and welfare of all our pupils. It would not be appropriate to comment on individual cases, but we are aware of this complaint and officers have met with the child’s mother to discuss her concerns.”