Council close to deal on `violent' pupil

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The Independent Online
Councillors in Nottinghamshire are expected to announce today that they have worked out a deal to end a teachers' strike over a disruptive pupil.

It is believed that staff who refused to have 10 year-old Matthew Wilson back in lessons have won their battle. The local authority is seeking legal backing from ministers to keep him out of classes and to teach him at home, in another school or in isolation.

The school was closed last week after its governors decided to stop paying for a supply teacher to look after the boy, who was alleged to have been violent and disruptive. The boy's mother, Pamela Cliffe, is adamant that he should return and is seeking a judicial review of his case.

The local authority has until now refused to step in on the grounds that it has no legal power to do so - a claim which was disputed by Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. Mrs Shephard wrote to the council on Wednesday giving it until the end of the week to sort the situation out. Now it seems that councillors will act if the government backs them up. They are believed to have set out three possible solutions to the problem, which led to the school being closed after money to pay a supply teacher to look after the boy ran out.

The local authority could simply refuse to allow Matthew to attend Manton. It could then offer him a place elsewhere or could give him home tuition, but the boy's mother might be able to challenge such moves in the courts.

Alternatively, a local authority teacher could be seconded to teach him in the school but separately from other pupils, thus saving the school from having to pay.

Last night Fred Riddell, the chairman of Nottinghamshire's education committee, was discussing the plans with other councillors. He had said he was writing to Mrs Shephard yesterday. The council wants to be sure that if it is taken to court over the case it will have the Government's support.

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