Bad boy made good is a lesson in class reform

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The Independent Online
Matthew Wilson is only 11, but already he can claim to be a reformed character.

The pupil, whose disruptive behaviour prompted a strike by teachers at his Nottinghamshire junior school, has become a classroom monitor after being moved to a new school, it emerged yesterday.

Yet once again Matthew (right), whose case divided teachers and governors at Manton Junior School in Worksop, is at the centre of controversy after a former governor accused the teaching union which led the strike of seeking publicity to boost recruitment.

Members of the National Association of Schoolmasters/ Union of Women Teachers at Manton went on strike last autumn in protest at Matthew's behaviour, which they claimed was violent, disruptive and a threat to their own safety and that of other pupils.

The crisis arose after governors at the school twice overturned the decision by the head teacher, Bill Skelley, to expel Matthew, who had reportedly threatened others with a baseball bat.

Moves to teach Matthew in isolation prompted other parents to withdraw their children.

The standoff ended only after the chair of governors resigned, and Matthew's mother, Pamela Cliffe, agreed to transfer him to another school, St Augustine's.

There, the head teacher, Neil Moore, yesterday described Matthew as "just another pupil" who caused no problems.

The NASUWT, however, was less serene after the former Manton governor Caroline Morrison alleged on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the union had scapegoated the schoolboy to help attract more members.

Its general secretary, Nigel de Gruchy, denied the allegation, and insisted his union should take some of the credit for Matthew's improved performance.