February 18, 2014

February 18, 2014

A COLLEAGUE of a teacher who was attacked by a 13-year-old autistic boy in an Inverness school told a court this week that none of the staff had received any training from Highland Council to prepare them for dealing with aggressive pupils.

A special-needs teacher has been awarded more than £70,000 after being the victim of a series of assaults by a pupil at her school.

Teresa McCarthy, 51, was punched, scratched and had her hair pulled by the then 13-year-old boy at Drummond School in Inverness in 2001.

The civil case heard that Mrs McCarthy quit her teaching job at Drummond School for children with additional support needs because she had suffered stress and depression following the incidents.

Her former colleague Karen Mulvey, who was a learning support auxiliary at the school, told Inverness Sheriff Court this week that attacks on staff by pupils were common.

She had worked in Mrs McCarthy’s class of four boys — aged between 13 and 15 years of age — for seven months and told how she came across the teacher and one of the pupils in the hallway outside the classroom in 2001 in a state of some distress.

“He had Theresa by the hair, she was bent down and both of them were obviously extremely upset so I went to go and get help,” she said.

Mrs Mulvey said the pupil in question was regularly disruptive.

When asked by Mrs McCarthy’s solicitor Bobby Macdonald if staff at the school had received training to deal with such situations, Mrs Mulvey said they had not.

“We never had training for children with profound autism,” she said. “He had challenging behaviour and would be extremely anxious and stressed about lights being off and on and he could lash out, kick out or hit out if he was stressed.”

She said the council organised “calm training” courses for up to nine staff after the incident, but with adults acting as the children which she said was not realistic.

“It wasn’t a six-foot tall pupil who weighed 15 stone,” she said. “In a lot of scenarios it wouldn’t have been a lot of use because it was very difficult to get them to calm down. I suppose it was a back-up for the council. We were told that after an incident we could have a cup of tea and have a five-minute break.”

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