Union calls for the expulsion of violent and disruptive pupils to halt class abuse

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The Independent Online

Children as young as four are damaging other pupils' education and driving teachers out of the profession through violent and disruptive behaviour, the second largest teachers' union has warned.

Children as young as four are damaging other pupils' education and driving teachers out of the profession through violent and disruptive behaviour, the second largest teachers' union has warned.

Teachers have been punched, spat at and had school equipment thrown at them, the annual conference of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers was told yesterday.

One teacher had been stabbed in the arm with a compass, another was deliberately burnt by a student in a cookery lesson while a third was punched twice in the chest by a 6ft teenager as he attempted stop the boy assaulting another student.

The union unanimously backed a motion calling for violent and disruptive pupils to be expelled. They argued that badly behaved children were now given too many "final chances" and should be removed from school.

They also warned that there was a worrying tendency for headteachers to "reward" bad behaviour by removing misbehaving youngsters from the classroom and occupying them with fun activities such as model-making or computer games rather than punishing their bad behaviour. This threatened to send the wrong message to classmates, that bad behaviour was a good way to get special attention at school, delegates were told. The union's unanimous backing for a clampdown on unruly pupils came on the eve of a speech by Stephen Twigg, the schools minister, in which he will pledge total support for schools who "show zero tolerance" for bad behaviour.

Mr Twigg is due to launch a new prospectus for schools telling them how best to work together to clamp down on bad behaviour and intervene quickly to help disruptive students.

It also follows a vote at the National Union of Teachers' annual conference days earlier which called for all the teacher's unions to work together to draw up a new charter detailing how unruly pupils could be punished.

Mike Wilson, a teacher from Nottinghamshire, said primary school children as young as four were becoming violent and disruptive. He told delegates of one child "whose first response is to throw a chair. Next he shouts, screams and even bites. He is four years old. At five or six they are just as bad as when they are 10," he said.

Meanwhile, a snapshot survey carried out by the union suggested that there was an "assault" in schools every nine minutes.

In total, a third of such attacks were physical while most (131) were verbal. Male pupils were the worst offenders by a ratio of almost four to one and were predominantly aged 15 to 16. Action was taken against the offending pupil in around three-quarters of cases.

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