No doubt, the long-running infestation situation at St Bride’s Primary is disgraceful, unacceptable and must surely be distressing for school staff.

It’s not that teachers aren’t already overworked with the ever-expanding role they are expected to play in the lives of their pupils.

On top of an already demanding remit, school staff are expected to be part-social worker, part-health adviser and, now washing machines are being installed, their school is part-laundry.

That can only lead to anger towards the local authority. Is the council doing enough to ease this additional, unique burden on St Bride’s teachers? 

Local residents do not want bedbugs in their homes. They are horrible creatures and, as demonstrated, difficult to be rid of.That can only lead to anger towards parents.

Why are parents allowing a situation to continue whereby their homes are full of bedbugs?

Are parents happy their children are taking bedbugs home? Of course not. Are they happy living in bedbug infested properties? Of course not.

The parents blame the local authority and the school for too little action.

But at the heart of the blame game are some very blameless children who are bearing the brunt of the stigma that comes with insect infestations.

This is modern Glasgow. This is Glasgow in 2019. And what is to blame for young children going to school with bedbugs in their clothing and their schoolbags?


And poverty has no one easy answer. It certainly can’t be solved by St Bride’s Primary. Bedbug problems will not be fixed by washing machines or zip lock bags for clothing.

They won’t even be solved by regular fumigation of the Craigie Street building. 

These are sensible, necessary steps to make school life tolerable for staff and pupils, but they tackle the resulting issues rather than fix the underlying problem.

Glasgow schools have children turning up for class in their pyjamas and, frankly, it’s a positive win that the pupils are turning up at all.

Our schools have pupils living in abject poverty in homes owned by unscrupulous landlords that are allowing slum conditions to proliferate in their properties. 

If there is a close where five properties are owned by a housing association or owner occupiers while just one is owned by a dodgy landlord then the building can be sprayed for bedbugs every day of the week and it won’t make a blind bit of difference.

The infestation will return. 

It can only be fixed by having every single flat in a close under responsible ownership.

There are steps being taken to eradicate irresponsible landlords with compulsory purchase of properties, thanks to the Enhanced Enforcement Area in Govanhill where many St Bride’s pupils come from.

Increasing numbers of landlords are being struck off the landlord register and fined. 

And there is work being done to ensure that parents know their rights, whether that is to benefit entitlement or to decent housing.

A multi-faceted approach - along the lines of work already being done in the area - is what is needed to solve this problem. The causes are complex and the solution is challenging.

Stigmatising the children of St Bride’s Primary is not part of that solution, however, and is a point to be well remembered.