Teachers sent ‘degrading’ messages about additional needs pupils

Concerns have been raised regarding the communications sent by staff at Aberdeenshire schools in 2018.

Teachers in Aberdeenshire schools sent ‘degrading’ messages about additional needs pupils iStock
Investigation: Teachers reportedly sent degrading messages about pupils.

Teachers sent “degrading” WhatsApp messages about pupils with additional support needs, it has emerged.

Concerns were raised about messages exchanged by a group of teachers at a number of Aberdeenshire schools in 2018.

Aberdeenshire council investigated the messages before “ensuring staff received additional training”.

The issue came to light after the BBC saw a letter from the Children and Young People’s Commissioner, who said the children’s parents should have been informed.

The commissioner’s letter to the council in November said: “These messages contained unprofessional, abusive and degrading references to children with additional support needs.

“The conduct of the professionals involved is a serious concern in relation to any child, but particularly so where vulnerable disabled children are involved.”

In its response, the council said the messages had been disclosed amid “disputes and allegations” between staff members about their behaviour towards one another.

A spokeswoman for Aberdeenshire Council said an independent review had found their handling of the incident had been appropriate.

She said: “Any child protection concern raised with us is always properly reviewed by social work colleagues and investigated alongside appropriate partner organisations where necessary.

“The WhatsApp group messages referred to by the Children and Young People’s Commissioner were no different – education, human resources and children’s services colleagues reviewed matters before ensuring staff received additional training, including appropriate guidance about use of online platforms.

“At no point were any children considered to be at risk of harm, and that is why no contact was made with parents.

“After the matter was raised by the commissioner, we commissioned an independent review of our approach which has concluded this concern was dealt with appropriately and no further action is necessary. We await a final report being sent to us.”

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