Labour to put disruptive pupils in sin bins

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The Independent Online
Labour will announce plans for sin-bins for disruptive pupils and new procedures to sack poor teachers in its election manifesto this week.

The pledges come in a document which underlines the party's dramatic shift to the right by presenting Labour as the "party of the family", the "patriotic party" and the party of "one nation". The manifesto's first chapter, on education, outlines proposals which aides to the Labour leader yesterday described as "unrecognisable from the last four manifestos".

Labour's measures include:

A numeracy task force, headed by Professor David Reynolds, to tackle poor standards in maths.

"Speedy but fair procedures to dismiss teachers who cannot do the job".

Pilot pupil referral units, or sin-bins, to protect schools from disruptive pupils.

Plans to close failing schools altogether, allowing them to be taken over by new staff.

Laws to make local education authorities devolve more cash to schools and cut the cost of administration per pupil.

The move to target poor teachers caused a row in Harrogate, where it was rejected by Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, which is holding its annual conference. Mr McAvoy said: "There is no need for any government to look for some accelerated procedure [for dismissal]. The machinery is already there."

A teacher's leader admitted yesterday that she had challenged the law by keeping her children away from school on the days of national curriculum tests.

Christine Blower, incoming president of the NUT, told the Union's conference she kept Sophie, 13, away from school for tests at the age of 11, and she intended to keep her six-year-old daughter Eleanor away on days of national tests at seven, which she is due to take next term.

Schools have a duty to implement the tests in English, Maths and Science at seven, 11 and 14, but parents do not have to ensure that their children take them. However, parents are required to see that their children attend school. Legal action is taken only against those whose children persistently truant.

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