Edinburgh Ferryhill primary school staff feel 'unsafe to work' amid reports of parents fighting

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Edinburgh primary school staff feel ‘threatened’ over violence and parents fighting

Staff at an Edinburgh primary school ‘regularly feel threatened and unsafe at work’ due to incidents of parents fighting in the playground. ‘Aggression and violence’ has also been reported toward teachers and support staff at Ferryhill Primary in Groathill Road.

The Drylaw school’s parent council said some fights had involved ‘dangerous weapons’ such as poles and hammers. This month, members of the parent council threatened to take their children out of school in protest at a lack of action to address growing safety fears, however called-off the ‘strike day’ following a commitment from the council that new measures would be put in place to stem the anti-social behaviour.

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And now a union is calling for a community policing presence at the school to deal with the behaviours of ‘a minority of parents’. Pauline Henderson, convener of communities and families for Unison Edinburgh, said officers should be at the school at the beginning and end of the school day ‘when the behaviours are at their worst’, starting after the summer break.

Ferryhill Primary School in the Drylaw area of Edinburgh. Image: Google.Ferryhill Primary School in the Drylaw area of Edinburgh. Image: Google.
Ferryhill Primary School in the Drylaw area of Edinburgh. Image: Google.

She said: “In the last few months we at Unison have been dealing with members who have been adversely affected by the situation. Our members regularly feel threatened and unsafe at work as parents in the playground and the school building display aggressive behaviour towards other parents and staff.”

A statement issued by Ferryhill Primary Parent Council earlier in June said that there were also reported instances of infant and nursery children leaving the premises and school grounds unattended ‘on more than one occasion’. The statement also said that concerns of ‘bullying, violence, and racism’ have led to ‘fear and apprehension among children and parents’ and ‘reluctance in entering the playground’ at the school.

It added: “Our foremost priority is to support the dedicated staff members of Ferryhill Primary School, who are working tirelessly to overcome these challenges. The school has devised a plan to navigate through these issues, but we acknowledge that this is a complex process that requires time and effort.”

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The parents have demanded a timeline is drawn up setting out when changes will be implemented by the council and police and said they would not rule out reviving plans for strike action if the situation does not improve.

Ms Henderson said: “The management team and headteacher within the school are extremely supportive of the whole staff and have put into place various initiatives to try and counteract and stem these behaviours, but unfortunately they have continued throughout the term spilling over into events where staff, children and parents have all been affected.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson revealed that incidents at the school have been reported. She said: “Officers in Edinburgh are aware of a small number of incidents reported to police in the Wester Drylaw Avenue area over the past few months. We will continue to engage with our education partners to respond to any concerns that are raised, and will focus our attention as required.”

Councillor Joan Griffiths said: “We are determined to support the whole school community and their vision that learners are nurtured and achieve their full potential. The school have an action plan detailing improvements planned for the next session which will be communicated to parents. A major part of the school improvement plan will be around their Positive Relationships Policy and developing school values.

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“The completely unacceptable behaviour of a few adults is having an enormous impact on the whole school community and these incidents will not be tolerated. The school have, and will, call the police if there are any incidents witnessed by staff and involving threatening or abusive behaviour towards any member of their school community.

“Ferryhill values kindness and respect and these ideals are instilled in their pupils and extended to all members of their community so it’s really important everyone works together to drive forward positive change for the future.”