Investigation launched into Crieff High sex assault and racism claims

Perth and Kinross Council announced an investigation into the culture, policies and processes at the school.

Investigation launched into Crieff High  sex assault and racism claims STV News

A probe has been launched into allegations of widespread sexual assault and racism at a secondary school in Perthshire.

Perth and Kinross Council announced young people and staff will be interviewed as part of the investigation after a fifth-year pupil spoke out about experiencing harassment and bullying but had witnessed far more.

Crieff High’s response has been criticised by 16-year-old Anna De Garis.

The teenager told STV News that speaking out was not about “trashing” the secondary school, but that a meeting to discuss her concerns with the headteacher on Monday had left her in tears.

The council said the culture, policies and processes at the school would be the focus of the investigation which will be led by David Macluskey, service manager for secondary education.

Mr Macluskey was previously a depute head at Crieff High and will lead a team of council officers in gathering information and testimony to determine if the school is meeting the “high standards expected of all Perth and Kinross Council schools”.

The council said third sector organisations will also be asked to contribute where appropriate.

The investigation will run until February 25 and will report back its findings at a later date.

‘Nobody should feel victimised or harassed in any of our schools.’

Sheena Devlin, executive director of Education and Children’s Services at Perth and Kinross Council

Sheena Devlin, executive director of Education and Children’s Services at Perth and Kinross Council said the welfare of the children and young people was always the “over-riding priority”.

“We take the allegations made regarding Crieff High School extremely seriously,” she said.

“Nobody should feel victimised or harassed in any of our schools. I want to assure all children, young people, parents and carers that we do everything we can to tackle bullying of any kind.

“This investigation will make sure the policies and processes we have in place at Crieff High School, and across all of our schools, are as effective as possible in ensuring our pupils learn in a safe and welcoming environment.

A hallway in Crieff High School, Perthshire.Perth and Kinross Council

“I would urge all children, young people and staff at Crieff High School to engage with the investigation team so we get a full understanding of their experiences – all their voices matter.”

Ms Devlin said the council would always urge children, young people and their parents or carers to report any incidents of bullying so appropriate action can be taken.

In an open letter to the school, MPs, MSPs, Perth and Kinross Council and the Scottish Government earlier this week, Anna said it was clear to her racism, sexism, sexual assault and harassment, homophobia and transphobia was “rife” and that the school’s inaction was normalising the behaviour.

The teenager, who is due to sit her Higher exams this year, was provoked into action after hearing her friend was told to “kill themselves”.

More than 100 answered survey

She created a survey, asking her peers about their experiences of discrimination at Crieff High School.

There are around 600 children at the school, with just under 15% of pupils responding within 24 hours, she said.

Anna said she received well over 100 written responses from students.

“Reading them was terrible,” the teenager said, “I honestly feel so sad for some of the children at my school that have had to deal with this and they’re children, which is the horrible thing.”

Among the allegations of abuse are claims of racial-epithets being used casually, anti-semitism and Holocaust denial, homophobic and transphobic slurs regularly directed at LGBTQ+ students, and misogynistic behaviour.

Responses to the survey claim male teachers had made sexist jokes and that schoolgirls were sexually assaulted by other pupils.

Crieff High School in Perthshire.Perth and Kinross Council

Previously, Police Scotland said it had not received any reports of incidents such as those detailed in the survey.

A spokesperson for the force said: “However, we would encourage anyone who believes they have witnessed or been the victim of any criminal behaviour to report this to police.

“Hate crime in any form is unacceptable and we will thoroughly investigate any offences reported to us.

“We work closely in partnership with the school and local authority and will provide any support necessary to address the issues raised.”

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