Nurseries seek power to expel violent toddlers

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The Independent Online

Teachers called for new powers to expel troublesome three-year-olds from their nursery schools yesterday, claiming that more children entering their classes were violent and showing disturbed behaviour.

Teachers called for new powers to expel troublesome three-year-olds from their nursery schools yesterday, claiming that more children entering their classes were violent and showing disturbed behaviour.

Delegates to the conference backed a motion saying there should be "zero tolerance" for unruliness.

Current legislation states that children below the statutory school age cannot be expelled unless the reception class they attend is attached to a primary school.

Susan Gokova of the Clairemont Primary and Nursery School in Nottingham said as many as one in 10 toddlers in some inner-city areas were showing signs of disturbed behaviour.

Mrs Gokova said she blamed parents for failing to teach their offspring essential social skills. Too many "left children slumped in front of videos and never talked to them''.

Children were sometimes confused by the aggression they had seen in the videos and began acting it out in class, she claimed. "It is not unusual for children to come into school with low self-esteem, lack of confidence, showing aggressive behaviour.

"They kick. They bite. They scream. They might target other children to hurt them, or they hide and this kind of behaviour needs one-to-one help."

She knew of one case where a nursery school had to ask parents to keep their three-year-old at home because the child's behaviour was so disruptive, she said. But if parents refused, there was nothing the school could do.

The move to ban the youngest troublemakers did not receive unanimous backing. Abigail Beacon, a primary school teacher from Cardiff, said: "As every child learns, they make mistakes. What sort of teacher would I be if I used zero tolerance every time a child makes a mistake?"

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers won a case on Monday brought by the parents of a boy aged 16 at a school in London who accused union members of acting illegally when they refused to have him in their classrooms, alleging that he was violent.

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