Teachers demand more exclusion powers

Schools need the freedom to permanently exclude more pupils, according to the National Union of Teachers.

In a charter published this week aimed at combatting classroom disorder, the union called for radical system-wide reforms to schools’ powers for dealing with disruptive behaviour.

Demands include adding persistent disruption to the reasons for permanent exclusion, and new legislation to provide teachers with a legal basis of authority to ensure any reasonable action they take to maintain discipline is beyond legal challenge.

But the move appears to contradict new research from the think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research, which finds that many teachers say they are against exclusion.

The research, published last week, observes a 20 per cent increase in the number of children being excluded from schools since 1999 and reveals that many teachers claim they would support a drive to drastically reduce the use of exclusions.

Chris Gravell, policy officer at the Advisory Centre for Education, said: “Most of the pupils displaying difficult behaviour have special needs and/or face disadvantage and disruption in their home lives.

“To further disrupt these lives by exclusion from school, which has been shown to have a profoundly damaging effect on pupils and their families, must be something to be prevented at all costs.”

The NUT charter, Learning to Behave – a charter of rights and responsibilities on pupil behaviour, calls for training on pupil behaviour management for teachers from career entry onwards, and “the lifting of the burden of an overloaded curriculum” to help ease pressure on the profession.

It also wants to see all local authorities providing access to behaviour support services, units and special schools.

A government-appointed taskforce on discipline in the classroom is due to publish its recommendations on tackling the issue next month.

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