Teacher “hit golf balls at pupils” at specialist school

McMenemy is accused of hitting golf balls at pupils

A TEACHER of a troubled residential school could be struck off amid allegations he lined his pupils up against a gym wall and hit golf balls at them.

James McMenemy is also said to have hurled rocks at pupils and thrown them into rivers and streams at troubled Kerelaw residential school in Ayrshire, which was closed amid a police probe into abuse.

According to a list of 15 charges brought by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) McMenemy also threatened to make false allegations of criminality against his pupils.

At a competency hearing this week one former pupil, now a prisoner at Barlinnie, told how he was attacked by the 48-year-old teacher.

And a senior manager at Glasgow City Council said there was a culture among teachers at the school of covering up violence.

Daniel Higgins, who the GTCS heard was in custody for a driving offence, arrived in handcuffs to give evidence against McMenemy this week.

He admitted during his testimony that squads of riot police attended after he brought a Ghurka knife with him to school with the intention of attacking McMenemy.

But Mr Higgins, 26, said he had been attacked by the teacher in a quiet room in the school.

He was taken out of class and ended up ‘rolling on the floor’ with the teacher when he was 14 or 15 years old, he said.


“I can’t remember how it started but I remember how it finished,” he added.

“I had cuts and burns from where I was dragged to the floor. At the time I thought this was just normal, this is what happens.

“There was no point complaining because this happened all the time. It wasn’t just McMenemy, but a lot of them.

“They were just terrorising youngsters. I didn’t think it was right but I was only a wee guy.”

When asked by case presenter Robert Burnett why he did not report the matter to the police later, he said: “I didn’t want to stick anybody in jail. I’ve been to jail and I wouldn’t want it for anybody.”

Efforts to discredit Mr Higgins were made by McMenemy’s lawyer Andrew Gibb, who suggested he was a violent pupil.

Mr Higgins admitted he had been expelled after he turned up at the school with the knife.

But a senior manager at Glasgow City Council, Mary Moran, said staff at Kerelaw used inappropriate force to restrain pupils, and acted together to prevent information getting out.

During her first visit to the school in May 2003 she encountered a culture of staff not following proper procedures, she said. “There was an air in the senior management of ‘This is Kerelaw, we do things our own way’,” she said.

“They covered for each other.”

She said reports had highlighted the school was failing pupils drastically, and pupils feared their teachers.

McMenemy is facing 15 charges of violence towards pupils and failing to comply with guidelines.

On charge claims that on various occasions at the school gym McMenemy made pupils “line up against a wall” and repeatedly struck “golf balls and other objects at them”.

Another allegation says he threw pupils “in rivers and streams”, forced them to “walk while their clothing was wet” and threw “rocks and other objects” at them.

Kerelaw opened as a residential school in 1970 with a secure unit added in 1983. In 2006 the school was closed after allegations of child abuse and bullying.

Former art teacher Matthew George was jailed for ten years for a series of physical and sexual assaults on children at the school.

In 2007 Glasgow Council reported that there had been up to 400 allegations of physical or sexual abuse.

The conduct is said to have taken place between 1993 and 2004 in the school.

The case against him is due to continue later this month.



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