Woodhead urges more exclusions for disruptive special needs pupils

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The Independent Online

Children with special educational needs who disrupt classroom teaching should be excluded from school, Chris Woodhead, the Chief Inspector of Schools, urged yesterday.

Children with special educational needs who disrupt classroom teaching should be excluded from school, Chris Woodhead, the Chief Inspector of Schools, urged yesterday.

Mr Woodhead said teachers were having to deal on a daily basis with disruptive pupils and declared that the interests of the majority of were being "sacrificed" for a minority of special needs youngsters.

Earlier this month the Ofsted chief said that Tory policies on creating new "sin bins" for unruly pupils had "struck a chord" with the public.

However, his remarks yesterday mark the first time that he has singled out disruptive children with learning difficulties for exclusion.

Mr Woodhead said that many parents whose children had special needs welcomed the fact that they were now being educated in mainstream schools.

But he stressed each particular case has to be looked at "long and hard" to make the right decision, not just for the individual child but also for the rest of the children in the class.

"Teachers who are confronted with children who have got really severe behavioural difficulties and who are having day in, day out to wrestle with the difficulties those children present, that's intolerable," he told BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme.

"The interests of the majority are being sacrificed in the light of the minority. That can't be right.

"If we have got children who can't conform to the expectations of normal schooling then those children, in the interests of the majority, must be educated elsewhere."

The Government is issuing new guidance about exclusions to appeals panels, emphasising that the exclusion of violent pupils remains headteachers' responsibility.

Ministers claim that more money is being spent on units for disruptive pupils in and away from schools.

But earlier this month Mr Hague pointed out that many headteachers were still refusing to use their powers to exclude disruptive pupils.

Mr Woodhead also hit back at Barry Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield who chairs the House of Commons education sub-committee, for describing him as "the witchfinder general".

"I do think that that is irresponsible, grossly irresponsible, because he is compounding the mythology that makes the work of inspectors on the ground that much more difficult. That exacerbates the anxieties that teachers feel," Mr Woodhead said.

He added: "I do find it extraordinary that a senior Labour MP is attacking in the way he is, colluding with the teacher unions with regard to a need for a different form of inspection, when his Secretary of State, his Prime Minister, see Ofsted as such an essential element within the Government's drive to raise educational standards."

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