A mother says her two
daughters will not return to Gala Academy until it expels the bullies she claims have made her girls’ lives a misery.
Karen Birrell, from Galashiels, has now removed daughters, Natasha, from the secondary school’s first year, and Bethany, from its third year.
She alleges Natasha, who is 12 and sometimes needs the use of a wheelchair, was recently assaulted by five girls in an ongoing hate campaign stretching back to September.Ms Birrell says she has complained to the school since the bullying began and even reported this latest incident to police, but says she was told it was a school matter.
According to Ms Birrell, the most recent incident saw Natasha being punched and hit, while between 15 and 20 other girls stood around jeering.
Bethany, who is 15, has also been the target of bullying, and Ms Birrell last week attended a meeting at the school with the head and deputy head teachers.
“I was told the school is taking this very seriously, but they don’t seem to have a clue as to what’s really going on – I think they’re burying their heads in the sand,” Ms Birrell told The Southern.
“I have friends whose kids have also been bullied at the academy. My daughters will definitely not be going back to the school until this group of girls is expelled.”
Scottish Borders Council said it takes allegations of bullying very seriously and that its education department is working closely with the academy to investigate these claims, and take appropriate action.”
Councillor Sandy Aitchison (Galashiels & District, BP), is SBC executive member for education and said he had been unaware of this case.
“Bullying is something we take very seriously and have a policy developed in conjunction with young people to tackle it.
“That comes into effect officially in August, but it’d be fair to say it’s in place now,” Mr Aitchison told us.
“This is the first I was aware of this and my understanding now is that Ms Birrell has spoken with the head and deputy teachers at the school and I have every confidence the head teacher will deal with this.
“I spoke to the senior education officer at the council and she was as concerned as anybody.
“Our understanding was that Ms Birrell had been spoken to and given assurances this would be dealt with. But if she has lost confidence in the responses she has received, then she needs to get back in touch with us and we will do everything we can to deal with this matter.
“I know this school quite well and bullying is not a culture which is present.
“It is also not a culture I would condone in any shape or form at any school.”