Concerns from teaching staff on North Ayrshire’s new £20million ASN campus brought to council bosses were ignored.

Martin Edwards, who served as head teacher at Irvine’s Stanecastle ASN school for 10 years, raised concerns on ‘unusual and irregular’ recruitment which saw ‘inexperienced’ senior management staff installed at Lockhart.

He told the Herald children with significant behaviour challenges are now ‘ruling the roost’ – and senior council officers leading the project had ‘no idea about additional needs at all’.

However North Ayrshire Council responded that “the majority” of teachers came from the former ASN schools – adding they believe all processes and procedures were followed correctly.

We reported last week how one Kilwinning mum reported an alleged assault on her child from a teacher when she grabbed his ear defenders – with other parents since coming forward raising incidents of bullying.

Martin Edwards said: “We started to have staffing removed and increasing the number of kids in the classes. Out of nowhere came this idea for a new ASN school which subsequently became Lockhart campus.

"There was absolutely no consultation at all with anybody at the ASN schools, absolutely none.

“There was no agreement from anybody inside the sector it was a good idea. It was just a cost cutting exercise trying to get money saved coming off the wage bill.

"That was difficult for us as a whole staff team to be working with – I was quite outspoken about it but was threatened to keep quiet.

“We had a round of [head teacher] interviews which came up with no preferred candidate, so it just got rolled on. At a joint head teachers meeting, they asked our management teams for anyone who might express an interest.

"They said they ‘needn’t necessarily have any ASN experience or expertise’.

“Every one of my colleagues came up to me after that meeting saying that’s just outrageous.

"There is a lot of specific knowledge and expertise that goes into that job.”

“They [North Ayrshire Council] have no idea what they’re doing and the contempt they showed for people in that sector for a long time started to have an effect on staffing.

“I took the opportunity to leave the council when I could, I was under pressure [at Stanecastle] from parents as their children were getting bullied by other kids being brought in that were nowhere near the catchment group, and I was told not to be so responsive to the needs of kids.

“I spoke to the acting head of education and Chief Executive and told them at the time you’ve done all this wrong, you don’t have anyone with experience.

“There has been cases of totally unqualified teachers working with pupils who have quite significant needs.

“You also have kids with significant behavioural challenges and difficulties and they’re ruling the roost. I still keep in touch with my ex colleagues – things are being reported and ignored or swept under the carpet on an ongoing basis.

“These are the most vulnerable kids we have in North Ayrshire, these are the children and families that deserve our best but we’ve given them the worst.

“People working in that school really care about children and their needs and they’ve been treated absolutely despicably.”

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “All teachers at the new ASN school are qualified and work extremely hard in what can be a challenging environment for even the most experienced of professionals.

“Staff at Lockhart are proud to be there and are enjoying working with the children.

"With the added challenges posed by Covid-19, we can only commend staff for their efforts.

“It is unfair and untrue to say teachers don’t know how to handle situations.

"If any parent wishes to raise an issue with us, it will always be our priority to deal directly with them to find a resolution.

“All the processes and procedures were followed correctly and we have full confidence that the best candidates were appointed to the required roles.”