Council threatened with tribunals over Kaimes teacher ban

Union bosses are threatening the city council with a wave of tribunal claims over alleged 'victimisation' after teachers were banned from coming into work at a special school after refusing to supervise '˜violent' pupils.

Wednesday, 31st October 2018, 8:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st November 2018, 7:48 am
Kaimes School in Liberton. Picture: SWNS

As was revealed yesterday, 11 teachers were sent home from Kaimes School on Monday without pay after refusing to provide lessons to eight specific pupils over a string of physical and verbal assaults. The council claimed the action by the NASUWT union members amounted to discrimination against disabled pupils.

Cllr Callum Laidlaw, Conservative education spokesman said the situation was not a “political issue”.

He added: “The way the teachers have engaged with the council and the decision to effectively boycott certain children is not the best response to the situation. I think that’s not an approach that should be encouraged. It needs to be about getting these teachers back round the table and not them singling out individual children.”

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The NASUWT has been in discussions with the school and the council for 12 months in an attempt to address concerns over violent assaults, but talks have broken down.

In 2017, there were 399 instances of violent behaviour or assaults carried out on teachers in Capital schools – including 259 violent incidents resulting in injury, 92 violent incidents with no injuries sustained and 48 incidents of threatening behaviour.

Last year, council employee injuries resulting from violence and aggression and assaults accounted for 60 per cent of all injuries. Around 90 per of these injuries took place in schools and were “mostly in relation to service users with additional support needs for learning”, according to a council report.

The union has now told the council it will be “lodging multiple tribunal claims on behalf of members” on the grounds of the “detriment being suffered as a result of exercising their right to a safe working environment” and relating to alleged “trade union victimisation”.

Education secretary John Swinney met with union boss yesterday afternoon and Holyrood has called on both the council and the NASUWT to get back around the negotiating table.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “We did raise with the minister that we had been told that the pupils at the centre of our members’ concerns are not being taught by the teachers and other staff who have been brought in to cover our members’ classes. If that is the case, we can see no reason why the same arrangements cannot be made for our members, allowing them to teach their timetabled lessons, while discussions take place to resolve the dispute.

“Parents will no doubt share our concerns that the education of the majority of pupils is being unnecessarily disrupted.”

Teachers, mainly from the council’s additional support for learning service, have been drafted in to cover for the staff told to stay at home.

A council spokesman said: “Our executive director of communities and families had a frank and open conversation with Mr Swinney outlining the council’s position and the reluctance of the NASUWT to engage with us over their concerns.

“An improvement action plan, developed in consultation with staff and subject to external expert scrutiny, is in place.

“Kaimes staff are dedicated professionals and we would urge the NASUWT and staff involved to sit down with us as soon as possible to resolve this situation.”