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Teachers at Kaimes School in Edinburgh are having all of their pay deducted and have been refused entry to their classrooms as a result of them refusing to teach or supervise eight pupils who they believe pose a risk to health, safety and welfare.
 
The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has been supporting the teachers at the school since November 2017 to seek to address a series of concerns about pupil behaviour.
 
The Union and its members have been engaged in months of discussion with the school and Edinburgh City Council to seek to address the concerns, but regrettably no tangible progress has been made. The Union, therefore, balloted its members on a lawful trade dispute to refuse to teach or supervise certain pupils.
 
Even when backed with a positive ballot result, these dedicated and committed teachers still did not rush to action, but again sought to reach agreement on how the concerns could be addressed. 
 
However, on 22 October, almost 12 months after the concerns had first been raised and when there was still no real progress, the action to refuse to teach or supervise certain pupils was put in place in relation to eight pupils, who the teachers considered posed the most risk to health and safety.
 
Ms Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said:
 
“The teachers, and indeed other pupils at the school have, month after month, faced violent physical assaults, a constant stream of verbal abuse and threats and malicious allegations. Equipment has been smashed and classrooms trashed.
 
“Rather than supporting the teachers to deal with these pupils, Edinburgh City Council instead has embarked on a campaign of aggressive and punitive actions towards the teachers, simply because they have dared to stand up for what is right.
 
“The Council has sought to bully and intimidate the teachers in a meeting, has stopped all their salary and, despite the fact they are turning up to work each day willing and ready, not only to take their timetabled classes and teach the overwhelming majority of the pupils, but also to provide appropriate work for the eight pupils, they have been refused entry to their classrooms and told to leave the school premises.
 
“Instead of allowing them to carry on their teaching and other duties, the Council is apparently bringing in senior non-teaching staff, supply teachers and other staff from across the authority.
 
“It quite frankly beggars belief that a council prefers to disrupt not only the education of the majority of pupils at  Kaimes, but also potentially pupils at other schools,  rather than dealing with  the pupils who are at the centre of the teachers’ concerns.
 
“The action the Council is taking against our members is far more disruptive to children’s education than any action the teachers themselves are taking.
 
“Teachers are entitled to a safe working environment and pupils are entitled to learn in safety, free from violence and disruption.
 
“This is one of the most disturbing cases I have ever experienced of an Employer failing in its duty of care, not only for staff, but also for the pupils at the school.
 
“No one should go to work every day with the expectation of being verbally and physically abused and threatened and no reasonable employer would expect them to.
 
“The Council should let these dedicated and committed teachers go back to work immediately and genuinely engage in discussions with the NASUWT to seek to resolve the dispute.”

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