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English-Born Schoolgirl Verbally Abused By Scottish Classmate 'Over Independence Referendum'

14/08/2014 16:57 | Updated 20 May 2015

Sasha Bell-Newman who has faced abuse in her Scottish school

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has offered his sympathies to an English-born schoolgirlafter she was told to to 'f*** off back to your own country' by a classmate.

Sasha Bell-Newman, 13, moved to Scotland when she was 10 months old. She was left in tears when she became the victim of vicious anti-English abuse in her Scottish secondary school, Balwearie High in Kirkcaldy.

Her mum Teresa believes the abuse was sparked after lessons about the forthcoming independence referendum.

Mr Brown, the family's local MP, contacted Teresa promising to discuss the matter with the local education authority.

Sasha was born in Dorset, but the family moved to Scotland when she was a baby after falling in love with the country whilst on holiday.

She lives with her 44-year-old mother, dad Robert Newman, 40, and four-year old brother Ollie in Burntisland on the Firth of Forth.

Sasha's mum Teresa said: "My concern is that the situation could possibly get totally out of control if nothing is done now before the referendum vote takes place later in the year.

"The authorities and even the politicians must do something immediately to try and defuse the whole situation before it gets out of hand."

Teresa said Sasha's class recently heard from a minister who visited the school about what would happen in an independent Scotland, and she said the class was discussing an anthem that would 'embrace Scottishness' when the incident happened.

She said: "One of her classmates turned to Sasha and said he was glad to have her in their team because she had won several Burns poetry competitions.

"He mentioned that she had achieved this without even being Scottish, a comment that was overhead by another pupil who started to shout and swear at her, telling her to 'f**k off back to your own country'.

"When I contacted the school later they were extremely apologetic and they have been really good in sorting this out.

"But I fear this could be the tip of the iceberg and possibly being experienced by many others because of the passion being whipped up surrounding independence.

"We're a very British family, but I'm afraid to put a pro-Union sticker in my window."

On Wednesday evening Teresa contacted Gordon Brown's office, and the next day received a personal phone call from the former Prime Minister.

Teresa said: "He said he was very sorry about what had happened and would contact the education authorities.

"He pointed out that his wife is English and said he hopes that what is happening is by a small minority of Scots."

James More, rector of Balwearie High School, said: "Any incident which may be motivated by prejudice is dealt with promptly.

"Discussion has taken place with the parents of both children involved to ensure that no repeat of this behaviour occurs and the matter is resolved in a restorative manner.

"As with all schools we deal robustly with incidents which may be motivated by prejudice as they occur, on a case by case basis, in line with Fife Council policy."

A Fife Council spokesman said all local authority schools have a 'clear line of impartiality that they adhere to' ahead of this year's referendum.

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