Teachers plan action over girl, 7, who spat and kicked

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The Independent Online

Teachers at a primary school have voted to take industrial action if they are asked to teach a seven-year-old who kicked and spat at a newly qualified colleague.

Members of the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers took the decision after a series of incidents involving Kisha Campbell at St Chad's primary school in Cheetham Hill, Manchester.

The girl who was excluded from school but allowed back on appeal, has been taught separately from classmates for a fortnight. Since Monday, Kisha has been receiving one-to-one tuition away from the St Chad's school premises.

She has been excluded from class five times. The head excluded her from school and teachers were angry when an independent appeals panel decided that she should return.

Both unions are dealing with a number of similar cases across the country. The NASUWT says that it is involved in 17 cases where teachers are considering whether to refuse to teach disruptive pupils.

Exclusions will be high on the agenda of the union's conference after Easter. Delegates will hear calls for more Government-funded pupil referral units or sin bins and for heads to support teachers against unruly children.

The NUT has voted for industrial action in four other schools if staff are asked to teach disruptive pupils. In one case, in London, a 14-year-old boy with a history of aggressive behaviour and language elbowed a teacher in the stomach. He was excluded but let back into school on appeal.

Peter McLoughlin, an executive member of the NASUWT said his members would not strike over the pupil at St Chad's but could refuse to teach her. "If they are directed to teach this child, and that has not been the case, so far, then we can authorise our members not to teach her." Michael Boswell, the head teacher at St Chad's, said the teachers had not refused to teach Kisha. "Their unions have said they will support them if they decide not to teach her and that is a different matter."

Doug McAvoy, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "The original judgements of the head and the school should be respected. The pupil concerned needs an opportunity to start afresh in new circumstances. The pupils and teachers at this school have a right to have their education and their teaching carried out without disruption and without threat of disruption.

"We have tried to achieve a settlement and we have been hoping that the threat of industrial action would change the circumstances. Our efforts so far have not provided a resolution of the problem."

David Johnstone, Manchester City Council's chief education officer, said yesterday: "We have been offering advice and support to the school since the pupil was reinstated in a bid to resolve the situation as quickly as possible - both to ensure the minimum of disruption to the school and that the pupil concerned receives tuition again in an appropriate classroom environment.

"From this week our behaviour support service has also begun working directly with the pupil, away from the school, to help her address her difficulties in order that she can return to normal classes as soon as it is appropriate."