Teachers abused over Aberdeenshire schools' Christmas concert ban

Teaching staff across Aberdeenshire have faced an “unacceptable level” of verbal abuse online following the decision to ban in-person Christmas events at schools.

By Kirsty Topp, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 6th December 2021, 8:11 am
Updated Monday, 6th December 2021, 8:11 am
School concerts and nativity plays can still go ahead, but parents and families are not allowed to attend.
School concerts and nativity plays can still go ahead, but parents and families are not allowed to attend.

While school pupils are allowed to perform in their festive concerts and plays again last month it was announced that parents and family members would not be allowed to attend and watch.

If consent has been received from parents some north-east schools will film their Christmas activities to allow the events to be watched back by family members.

However the Director of Education and Children’s Services at Aberdeenshire Council, Laurence Findlay, said the move has been “emotive” for some parents resulting in them lashing out at staff members.

At a meeting of the Education and Children’s Services Committee on Thursday, December 2, Mr Findlay noted that the vast majority of parents have been “very understanding” about the move.

However he said: “Some individuals have unfortunately opted to vent their anger very publicly and there have been occasions when individual head teachers have suffered what I would deem to be an unacceptable level of verbal abuse for following guidance designed to keep pupils safe and to protect people.

“Whilst we understand the trauma the pandemic has caused and the disruption it has caused, we have a duty of care towards our staff, towards each other and most importantly to the young people in our care and as such any verbal aggression will not be tolerated and where required we will take appropriate measures when faced with behaviour of this kind.”

He added: “Staff have been working at great pace within ever evolving guidance to provide the best possible and safest experiences for our young people and it is really unfortunate that a minority of individuals feel the need to conduct themselves in this way.”

Committee chair councillor Gillian Owen said: “I think some people do become keyboard warriors when they get in front of social media and I think that the temptation to type something that you wouldn’t necessarily say comes to the fore which is disappointing.”

Aberdeenshire Council said it made the decison based on current public health advice.

Current Scottish Government guidance states that all visitors to schools have to be agreed in advance and each visit must be risk assessed.