New rules on school expulsions to head off revolt

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The Independent Online

The Government is to introduce tough new guidelines on school expulsions to head off industrial action by teachers.

The Government is to introduce tough new guidelines on school expulsions to head off industrial action by teachers.

The new rules are designed to keep the most violent and disruptive pupils out of the classroom. More teachers are refusing to teach offenders and heads have threatened to disobey the rulings of appeals panels that allow expelled pupils back into their schools.

The guidelines will spell out in unprecedented detail the offences that will lead to a permanent exclusion from school. They include serious violence or threatened violence, persistent flouting of school uniform rules and severe drug-related offences such as dealing.

Ministers have drawn up the document to govern independent appeal panels, which can overturn headteachers and governors to return expelled pupils to school if parents challenge a head's ruling.

The announcement, by Jacqui Smith, the Schools minister, comes after William Hague made a series of attacks on the Government's record on school discipline.

Mr Hague called last month for heads to be given greater powers to expel unruly children, including those who fail toturn up wearing the correctuniform.

Ministers have been criticised for setting national targets, which aim to cut exclusions by a third by 2002 as part of a policy of inclusion. About 10,000 children were expelled last year, down from more than 12,000 in 1998.

Heads warned that more children had to be offered one-to-one education to prevent industrial action by teachers. David Hart, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said more disruptive pupils were being taught in isolation "because of industrial action by the unions or a decision by governors about the risk to other pupils".

Nigel de Gruchy, the general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, called for appeal panels to be abolished after a High Court judge upheld the expulsion of a boy accused of assaulting staff and pupils.

Members of NASUWT had threatened to refuse to teach the boy, aged 14, who cannot be named for legal reasons. He was reinstated after being expelled for allegedly hitting another pupil in the lunch queue.

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