Anarchy in class is not the norm, says head

17th April 2009 at 01:00

A headteacher this week defended "the majority of well-behaved pupils" in Wales after a newspaper uncovered the extent of violence committed by children aged as young as three.

Wales on Sunday revealed details of child violence and the use of weapons - including compasses - in an article headlined "Anarchy in the classroom", following Freedom of Information requests made to local authorities.

There were 14 cases of "happy slapping" - where a person is filmed being assaulted - and around 90 incidents of weapon- carrying reported.

In one incident, a three-year-old attacked a fellow nursery pupil. In another, a seven-year-old was excluded for possessing a BB gun.

A teacher in Denbighshire received hospital treatment after being scalded when a teenager threw a cup of boiling water.

But Mal Davies, head of Willows High Schools in Cardiff and chair of the General Teaching Council for Wales, said the paper's findings had to be put into perspective.

He did not believe there was a culture of violence in schools. "The majority of pupils are attentive, want to learn and get annoyed with disruptive pupils," he said.

In Cardiff, for example, there were 788 exclusions out of a 49,357 cohort over the past year, but just 25 were permanent, the FoI requests revealed. Just 4.5 per cent - 36 - of all exclusions involved weapons.

Experts are becoming increasingly concerned by the year-on-year rise in the number of pupils excluded for violence.

The latest Assembly government figures, published this month, revealed more than a third of last year's permanently excluded pupils were barred for violence against pupils and teachers - a rise of 11 per cent on 200607.

The National Behaviour and Attendance Review report, published last year, revealed rising violence among girls, but concluded most schools in Wales were well ordered.

But the report's author, Professor Ken Reid of Swansea Metropolitan University, told TES Cymru recently that the latest exclusion figures for violence could be "the worrying tip of the iceberg".

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