The seven-year-old who cannot be controlled

Clare Dean

A seven-year-old boy is facing permanent exclusion from his Walsall primary - the eighth school he has attended in just two years.

Adam Keenan left Short Heath junior school last week after being temporarily excluded seven times in the past seven months for allegedly fighting, stealing and assaulting another pupil with a dinner knife.

Governors at the 267-pupil school meet on Monday to discuss the permanent exclusion recommended by headteacher David Drewe, who says he cannot allow Adam's behaviour to affect other pupils any longer.

The case comes in the week that Education Secretary Estelle Morris recommended anger management courses for children as young as three. Official figures show 1,200 primary pupils were permanently excluded in 1999-2000.

Adam's father Darren and his 33-year-old stepmother Carol cannot control him at home.

Mr Drewe said: "We have not been able to do anything with him. Nothing we have done has met with any success."

Adam moved to Short Heath last November, having already attended five other schools in the Walsall and Wolverhampton area. He had previously attended two schools in Wales. His father moved him around schools after a series of suspensions. "I got him moved to see if it would change him, but it doesn't. He's hyperactive and he likes causing trouble," said 27-year-old Mr Keenan.

At home, Adam hits his stepbrothers, 10-year-old Nathan and seven-year-old Daniel. He rips wallpaper off the walls, writes on them and, left alone in the back garden, will climb the six-foot fences to escape.

Adam's permanent suspension is the first that Mr Drewe has recommended in the 23 years that he has been a headteacher. "One of the problems with Adam is that there is very little remorse from him. He doesn't really understand that his behaviour is wrong."

His father said: "I love him to death but he's terrible. He drives me barmy."

Mr and Mrs Keenan, both unemployed, want Adam to go to a special school and he is now on the special educational needs register.

But Mr Drewe said: "I don't know what the answer is for Adam. I am not qualified to say whether it is a medical, psychiatric or behavioural problem he's got."

He is unconvinced, though, that the government crackdown on parents - making them responsible for the way their children behave - would have much effect. "I've had strong support from Adam's parents. I cannot fault them."

They have received daily reports on Adam's behaviour. There were written contracts between the school, parents and Adam but "everyone kept their promises except Adam", Mr Drewe said.

"The parents have supported the school 100 per cent - yet we have got to this stage. "I cannot see what impact parenting orders or pound;1,000 fines would have. Adam's parents have done all that they can."


December 13 : three days' exclusion for violence towards other pupils.

February 5: five days for violence in the playground and classroom.

February 13: three days for assaulting a boy with a dinner knife.

March 6: five days for alleged thefts from lunch boxes.

March 16: five days for punching a Year 5 girl.

June 19: four days for alleged theft from children's trays, lunch boxes and from the teacher's desk, and an assault on a boy.

June 29: five days for alleged theft of a child's purse.

July 6: permanent exclusion July 16: Governors committee to ratify, or otherwise, the permanent exclusion.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Clare Dean

Latest stories

Geoff Barton

Omicron, nativities and the DfE: Another fine mess

Schools are being told what to do by those with no concept of the reality of running a school - and it's only making an already tough situation a lot harder, explains Geoff Barton
Geoff Barton 3 Dec 2021
New headteachers - here are 9 things you need to know

Headteacher wellbeing and sources of 'streth'

Former headteacher Chris McDermott set out to find out the true causes of leader stress and support – and in doing so coined a whole new term, as he explains here
Chris McDermott 2 Dec 2021
Transdisciplinary learning: how to embed it in your school

Why you need a transdisciplinary curriculum

At the Aspirations Academies, six hours a week are dedicated to applied transdisciplinary learning - but how does it work? And should you apply something similar at your school?
Steve Kenning 2 Dec 2021