Teachers 'put at risk' by cut in expulsions

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The Independent Online

The Government was accused yesterday of cutting the number of school expulsions at the expense of teachers' safety.

The Government was accused yesterday of cutting the number of school expulsions at the expense of teachers' safety.

An announcement that the Government has all but met its target to reduce by a third the number of pupils expelled was criticised by union leaders for leaving many of their members at risk. Teachers' leaders claimed the reduction had been at too high a price with too many violent and disruptive children left in the classroom.

Leaders of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers said they had sanctioned industrial action in 49 schools already this year, where pupils involved in assaults had been kept in school. Nigel de Gruchy, the union's general secretary, added: "The spring term 2001 has, therefore, seen action in as many cases as we would normally have in a year."

Figures published yesterday showed the number of permanent exclusions from school had dropped from 10,400 in 1998-99 to 8,600 in 1999-2000 ­ the latest year for which statistics are available. They have dropped by a third from their high of 12,700 in 1996-97.

The target for 2002 was 8,400. David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, immediately announced there would be no further targets for reductions.

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