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School violence hotline set up

An incident hotline has been set up in Aberdeenshire for teachers to report violent incidents.

The authority hopes that providing an opportunity to log incidents by telephone will prove more effective than the paperwork involved in the current system. The scheme is being piloted in 20 schools and, if successful, will be deployed across Aberdeenshire by the end of the year.

Concerns over whether abusive incidents were being properly recorded prompted the launch of the pilot scheme, which began this week and will finish on June 26.

The incident line will be manned by the Regional Communications Centre in Aberdeen which is already used by Aberdeenshire Council for its community alarm system. Staff are trained in dealing with callers involved in traumatic incidents and can provide counselling.

Hamish Vernal, director of education and recreation, said: "This new process should ensure that all violent incidents are now recorded corporately. We have a zero tolerance on this type of behaviour in schools and I think this new system will help stamp it out.

"Because of the way incidents will be recorded, it will probably show that there is a higher level of violent incidents than in previous years. This does not mean that there have actually been more incidents but that the corporate system of reporting them is different."

Mr Vernal hoped there would ultimately be a reduction in violent incidents as problems areas were indentified and support and training developed. The project will also cover incidents on school buses.

Kay Barnett, speaking on behalf of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said: "I welcome and support this scheme in the strongest possible terms."

The process was developed by a team of janitorial, teaching and other education staff who used the Kaizen system - a week-long problem-solving event with a finite set of goals to achieve major improvements to council services in a short time.

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