Father’s anger over bullying of his daughter at Galashiels Academy

An angry and concerned father says his 12-year-old daughter has been left in educational limbo after cruel school bullies targeted and tormented her at Galashiels Academy.

By Paul Kelly
Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 4:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 4:38 pm
The pupil has been left in educational limbo after being bullied at Galashiels Academy. Photo: Bill McBurnie
The pupil has been left in educational limbo after being bullied at Galashiels Academy. Photo: Bill McBurnie

The youngster was full of excitement and anticipation when she started at the Elm Row school in August last year.

But that all soon turned sour when fellow pupils began teasing and taunting her, initially because of spots on her face.

Her parents told her to ignore the comments, which she did, however matters soon escalated after her school bag was hidden by pupils – and she was laughed at and left in tears when she asked where it was.

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After that incident she remained out of school for a week and a half but returned after her parents were assured by the school that the bullying issue would be addressed.

However, a short-time later she was attacked by a student in Scott Street, Galashiels, during which she was pulled to the ground, had her hair grabbed and sustained a black eye.

Luckily, two people were passing by in a car and took the tearful youngster into the vehicle before contacting her parents.

A girl was eventually charged with the assault – which had been filmed on a mobile phone.

The bullied youngster remained out of school from mid-October until the beginning of the school term in January when she returned again after a safety plan was drawn up.

Nevertheless, she continued to encounter the girls bullying her and was then angrily approached by the pupil charged with her assault.

That proved the final straw and her parents took their daughter out of school.

Amid that backdrop a bid to transfer the bullied pupil to Earlston High School was refused last week with an offer of a move to Selkirk High School put forward instead.

That’s not a satisfactory solution for her 42-year-old dad and he is now trying to go through an appeal process but has yet to get legal support to do so.

He added: “My daughter has suffered name-calling, been teased, put-down, things taken from her, she has been tripped up, threatened and even assaulted.

“The board offered her to go to Selkirk High School which would mean two bus trips there and two back home. She’s a 12-year-old vulnerable young girl having to get two buses, leaving at seven in the morning and getting back at six at night. She’s in first year, so she would have to do that for four years.

“I’ve asked for her to be closer to home which is Earlston High School, not because it has a great name, which it has, the reason is that it is the closest.

“She can’t go back to Galashiels Academy because she is being bullied. We’re now in a state of limbo. She should be getting educated in a school close to her home and they’re not allowing that.

“My daughter just wanted to get on with her education. She wanted to join all the clubs at the school, the hockey team, the netball team – until these bullies got involved and stopped her.”

Lesley Munro, the council’s director of education and lifelong learning, said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases but placing requests and appeals are each carefully considered using an agreed process, which includes an assessment of availability of places in other schools.

Scottish Borders Council and all our schools take bullying extremely seriously. We investigate all allegations and take appropriate action swiftly and robustly, involving Police Scotland and social work as required.

“Bullying does occur in school from time to time, but all schools have a Respectful Relationship policy in place when issues do occur, staff work with teachers, parents and young people to resolve these as a matter of priority.

“We would encourage any pupil who may be suffering bullying of any kind to raise it with a member of our teaching staff to ensure that the school can take the necessary action.”