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Union calls for action over unruly children

'Stop the stress' could be the slogan for the first Easter union conference,

Nicolas Barnard reports.

SCHOOLS need cash not slogans to deal with disruptive pupils and protect the education of other children, teachers will tell ministers next week.

Social inclusion and pupil exclusions will be high on the agenda of the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the first of the classroom teachers' Easter gatherings.

Stress caused both by dealing with aggressive and unruly pupils, and by the growing workload and bureaucracy, have prompted motions at the conference, which opens in Belfast on Monday.

Teachers from Wiltshire and Swindon will call on the Government to tackle "as a matter of urgency, the stress being imposed on an increasing number of teachers by having to teach seriously disruptive pupils at the same time as being expected to produce better examination results".

Another motion will call for employers to train teachers in how to tackle threatening situations.

Peter Smith, ATL general

secretary, said: "The overwhelming majority of teachers back the Governmnt's aspirations on inclusion, but they have mounting reservations about whether it is possible for mainstream schools to deal with very disruptive pupils.

"David Blunkett talks of 'the many not the few' but if you're not giving the few the tailor-made service to which they are entitled, you are endangering the education of the many. To sloganise about it is not to solve it."

ATL members will also call for targeted help for the children of refugees.

"The children who some people say are being used by beggars as props are the children who will go into schools and be taught by teachers," Mr Smith said. "They pose particular challenges. Is anybody thinking about how schools will cope?"

The decision to hold the conference in Belfast has been described by the union as a "vote of

confidence" in the faltering peace process. But the suspension of the Stormont assembly means that some of the speakers originally requested will not attend.

They included Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness, who held the post of education minister in the short-lived assembly.

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