Ex-Kaimes School staff member reveals assaults and lack of resources

Kaimes School in Liberton. Picture: SWNS
Kaimes School in Liberton. Picture: SWNS
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A former pupil support assistant at Kaimes School is backing teachers who are refusing to look after ‘violent’ pupils after revealing inside details of traumatic assaults and a lack of resources.

After refusing to teach eight pupils due to safety concerns, the city council sent 11 teachers home from the special school with no pay on Monday, who are members of the NASUWT union. The council said staff cannot pick and choose who they wish to teach and union discussions have hit a brick wall.

The former staff member, who wishes to remain anonymous, quit her role at the special school, which mainly caters for children with Autism, in February, following her ordeal.

She said: “I was initially put in the notoriously difficult class until an incident with one of the students led to school management switching me into the second most notoriously difficult class. One of the boys smashed my head into a doorway, splitting my head and requiring a trip to A&E. He got two days of exclusion.

“I mentioned at the time that I felt this consequence and my removal from the class was detrimental to their learning environment, and was worried about the well-being of whoever would be replacing me in the class.

“My replacement ended up with a fractured wrist and I saw one of the boys violently elbowing them in the stomach on two separate occasions.”

The woman also claimed that furniture was tied down to stop pupils from launching them at staff – but the council denies these allegations, saying it’s standard procedure to tie tables together for group activities.

The former staff member added: “The second class was just as difficult, with two students constantly getting into physical altercations and myself and another support assistant having to physically restrain a pupil far bigger than us to prevent injuries.”

The former PSA quit after “the final straw” when she was forced to intervene in a serious incident in a safe space at the school.

She said: “I had to disrupt another class to grab a radio to call for help, as we didn’t have enough radios to supply one for each pupil support assistant.

“It took five members of staff to restrain this child enough to keep them safe. Nobody had thought to warn me that this was a recurring issue, despite having never worked with this child before.”

After she left her position, the council met with her and said it has taken her experiences on board as it puts together an action plan for the school.

A council spokesman said: “We had a constructive meeting with the former member of staff over the issues raised. As a result of these discussions, recommendations for training for new staff have now been incorporated into the school’s improvement action plan.

“We now have to all work together to deliver the improvements we want to see as quickly as possible so the concerns raised at Kaimes can be resolved at the earliest opportunity.”