Fife school violence: councillor’s pledge after shock rise in incidents

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Parents have been handed a personal assurance by a leading councillor that the problem of school violence in Fife will be tackled.

It came from Cara Hilton, Fife Council’s education spokesperson after a report revealed that incidents had more than doubled in the last two years. A total of 639 incidents have already been reported for 2023.

The report to the education scrutiny committee came after a video on social media showing a shocking attack on a girl sparked widespread debate.

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Cllr Hilton said: “This issue isn’t unique to Fife. We know that teachers and school communities across Scotland are concerned about violent incidents in schools and it’s something we’re taking very seriously.

Education spokespersons Cara Hilton and Kathleen Leslie have joined the debate on violence in Fife schoolsEducation spokespersons Cara Hilton and Kathleen Leslie have joined the debate on violence in Fife schools
Education spokespersons Cara Hilton and Kathleen Leslie have joined the debate on violence in Fife schools

“I would personally reassure parents and carers across Fife that we will continue to work with all our school communities to make sure our staff and young people have a positive experience at school.”

The local authority order a report into violent incidents in schools after the video made headlines - and the figures revealed the worrying increase

“The welfare and wellbeing of everyone in our schools is our first priority and all of our schools place the importance of relationships at the centre of what they do,” said Cllr Hilton.

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“Learning about positive relationships is something that begins at home and our parents and carers have a key role to play in this.

“Any form of violence towards teachers and pupils is unacceptable and we’re committed to safe working practices and training for our staff.”

​Councillor Kathleen Leslie, the Tories’ education scrutiny convener, also acknowledged the serious impact that violence in school has on school staff and pupils.

“Pupil to pupil fights in secondary schools, incidents of violence against pupils and bullying amongst pupils have all seen an increase post 2020,” she said. “None of this is acceptable and we need to understand why this is and what can be done to reverse this trend.”

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She called on all parents to “engage fully with schools” when issues impacting their child’s behaviour arise.

“This is not about blame, this is about getting it right for all children and ensuring that all of our young people understand what is and is not acceptable behaviour,” she said.

“There is never any excuse for violent or aggressive behaviour towards staff and pupils. Nor is there an excuse for bullying between pupils. I, like others, am deeply concerned about the data that we have that shows an increase in such incidents and am keen to ensure we address this promptly in moving forward.”

At a national level, Alex Rowley, Scottish Labour MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife raised the issue with Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP and Cabinet Secretary for education.

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He said: “Over these last months I’ve talked to many teachers, and I have become quite alarmed at the concerns that teachers are raising around the decline in discipline in school, decline in behaviour in schools and indeed levels of violence that are increasing. Teachers say that post covid that issue has become greater and greater.”

Mr Rowley previously received assurances that a pilot programme would place social workers in four of Fife’s secondary schools, and he said the region now has a police presence in six schools playing a frontline role.