Forth Valley student Andrew Moodie has spoken about consistent bullying within his course at the Forth Valley College’s Falkirk campus.
Andrew, 20, and on the autistic spectrum, had been attending employability classes for additional support needs students and said that he was subject to harassment from fellow students in his class.
Moodie’s mother Elaine said she only became aware of bullying incidents towards Andrew in October but was shocked to find out he had been living with it for a while.
Andrew has said that he has faced having his chair kicked, being jumped out on, followed and mimicked by several people in his class since the start of the semester.
Once aware of the incidents towards Andrew, Elaine contacted his tutor but after two weeks had not heard anything back from him.
Mrs Moodie had to physically go into the college to get a response only to be told the individuals were spoken to and had declared it was not them. Dissatisfied with this response, Elaine asked to speak to someone else.
The harassment continued onto social media. Unaware his Facebook account was actually run by his older brother Ben, the perpetrators had messaged his account only to get his brother.
With these messages and a note of incidents recorded by Andrew himself, Ben sent them to complaints at the college.
However, it wasn’t until Andrew’s brother posted details of the harassment on Twitter that Andrew’s mum received a response.
Despite bringing incidents of bullying to the college’s attention, Andrew continued to face harassment in class.
The family were assured both staff and students had been spoken to and emails were sent out to all lecturers and Additional Support workers to be vigilant and report back anything they might witness or overhear.
As incidents continued to occur, including, Andrew being mimicked by one student to the whole class, the college said they were disciplining the students and were hoping to bring this matter to an end.
A hopeful end came when the Moodies received a letter from the Principal. This letter however, arrived in November despite the first complaint being made in October.
Within the letter, the Principal apologised for the time taken to respond to the concerns and a confession of a more robust initial investigation.
The college also noted they were implementing a new process where lecturers who have received complaints in relation to bullying or safeguarding issues will be required to involve their curriculum or operations manager.
Once again, Elaine was assured the individuals involved had received sanctions under the College’s Learner Disciplinary processes.
The letter also noted college staff were told to keep a close eye on the situation and if any other incidents occurred the sanctions would escalate and may include exclusion for these individuals.
Elaine said once they received the letter, the family were happy with the reaction given by the college and hoped that would have been the issue resolved.
But yet again, Andrew said that the harassment continued. Elaine once again had to email the college with more incidents that had occurred in his class, including being told he was self-centered after giving a class presentation.
He spoke about being told “I hope you get Coronavirus and die of it” and how he “must have been born on a motorway because that’s where accidents happen”.
On a class trip to Callender House, he had been prevented from getting onto the lift and once finally on was subjected to lunges and made to feel uncomfortable by the same bullies.
On the same trip, Andrew had been concentrating on his own thoughts and had expressed his annoyance at himself and overheard the bullies discuss, with a support worker, that he had said something rude.
Having become quite upset about being called rude he asked: “I think you’ve got the impression I was being rude” and the support worker had reportedly replied: “talk to the hand.”
The next day, he heard the issue still being discussed, the same support worker had apparently told the bullies: “you’re not in the wrong, he was being his usual rude self”.
Appalled that a support worker had reportedly acted this way particularly in front of Andrew and his peers, Elaine immediately contacted the college, with this issue and numerous others.
However, Elaine said that only one incident was resolved out of the ones that she had reported.
Other incidents included being aimed at with bottles and having his chair kicked several times. Andrew reported the incidents and said he was cruelly told “snitches get stitches”.
Whenever Andrew, tried to reason with them, they would say it was because of their behaviour problems.
As the incidents continued, Andrew’s mental health began to be negatively affected and the family argued for expulsion as they believed incidents would continue indefinitely.
Elaine further made it clear, if the feeling was not mutual with the college, the Moodies had no other option but to take their complaints to the police.
Despite this warning, Andrew came home upset after being called homophobic. Elaine felt, although he wasn’t physically upset, he would deeply upset by this as his older brother is gay.
The family once again reiterated they would proceed with the police complaints as they felt Andrew was being picked on for who he was and with no signs of abating they would take the matter to the police as a hate crime.
According to Andrew the incidents continued until the college closed because of the Coronavirus outbreak.
A spokesperson for Forth Valley College said: “Whilst we cannot comment on individual cases, we take any bullying issues extremely serious and can assure anyone making allegations that they will be investigated fully and the appropriate action taken. This would include allegations of continuing bullying.”
The college said it was important anyone who was subject to bullying makes them aware of the situation, so proper complaints procedure allow the issue to be investigated fully.
The statement continued saying: “Forth Valley College has robust policies in place that ensure that all staff and students can work or study in an environment that is free from discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
“This includes a Student Charter and a culture of respect throughout the college.”
The Moodie family feel their complaints are just being swept under the rug and are not being taken seriously.
Andrew reviews films on his own website, https://andrewmoodie.co.uk/
Feature Image: Andrew Moodie