1,000 sin bins to curb the unruly

28th April 2000 at 01:00
The Government plans a pound;47 million crackdown on abuse and violence from pupils MORE than 1,000 special units for violent and disruptive pupils will be set up in schools by 2002 as the Government attempts to crackdown on tearaways.

Education Secretary David Blunkett this week declared zero tolerance on bad behaviour by pupils. "Whether it is bullying, threatening or violent behaviour, abusive and insulting language or an impression of anarchy and lawlessness, we must act," he told the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers.

He used the union's annual conference in Llandudno, north Wales, to announce a pound;47 million deal on discipline including targeting troublemakers in 200 primaries to catch them early.

The "sin bins", called learning support units, will be for pupils at risk of fixed periods of exclusion rather than those permanently excluded. They are designed to reinstate youngsters into the same school in no more than two terms. There are already 420 of them in secondaries around the country. At least 520 more will now be set up for secondaries and 60 will be established for primary children.

This week Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the NASUWT, called for a sin bin away from school in every town telling the Government that its policies on social inclusin were not realistic.

Four years ago the union was involved in several high-profile cases over troublesome pupils, including 13-year-old Richard Wilding, excluded from Glaisdale secondary in Nottinghamshire for violence. In the first two months of this year, the union dealt with 20 cases of members refusing to teach unruly youngsters.

Horror stories emerging from the conference included that of a 15-year-old boy who beat up a headteacher in a school car park. Sarah Millington, from Hyndburn and Ribble Valley, described the behaviour of four pupils that included throwing chairs, sniffing lighter fluid in the corridor and drug-dealing.

Latest government statistics show that there are 12,300 pupils permanently excluded from school. Unpublished research by the Department for Education and Employment reveals that more than 80 per cent of children are excluded for physical violence and serious verbal threats.

The pound;47m package, which the DFEE insists is new money, is in excess of the pound;500m three-year deal on discipline already announced by the Government. Alongside the learning support units, pound;9m has been allocated for "dowries" of pound;3,000 attached to excluded pupils. There will also be up to pound;6,000 for youngsters in the country's 300-pupil referral units.

Conference report, 6


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