Curriculum of fear


SHANARRI seems to have lost its S when to comes to Scottish schools.

Curriculum of fear (Keneth Roy in Scottish Review)

On 22 August the 1,200 pupils of St Kentigern's Academy, a Roman Catholic secondary in Blackburn, West Lothian, returned after a seven-week break. A week later the school was the subject of a generally favourable inspection report from Education Scotland. Then, last Friday, barely a month into the new term, a 14-year-old boy was slashed in the face with a kitchen knife which had allegedly been brought into the school. A 13-year-old boy appeared in court yesterday (Tuesday) charged with assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement.
Every time there is an outbreak of violence in a Scottish school, the authorities give an assurance that such incidents are 'extremely rare.' This platitude was duly rolled out after the knifing of the boy at St Kentigern's Academy and, with particular emphasis, after the fatal injuries inflicted on Bailey Gwynne by a fellow pupil at Cults Academy, Aberdeen. No good purpose is served by this policy of deception – for deception it is. Schools are no longer safe. They are increasingly dangerous: for teachers as well as pupils.

If you doubt it – and prefer to swallow the patronising guff peddled in the interests of avoiding public alarm – take a look at the official figures from Edinburgh, where attacks on classroom staff by pupils have more than doubled in the last three years. In 2014-15, there were 405 such assaults. In 2016-17, there were 1,006. Among the more spectacular incidents, one support worker was knocked out and hospitalised, while another required a tetanus jab after being bitten.