Staff vote to strike over violent pupil

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The Independent Online
Teachers at a Nottingham comprehensive school have voted for an all-out strike in a dispute over a 13-year-old boy who they say has a long history of disruption and violence.

The boy, Richard Wilding, was permanently excluded from Glaisdale school in February after he threatened both another pupil and a member of staff. However, the decision was overturned by an appeals panel and now staff at the school say they will not accept him back.

They say Richard, who has both learning difficulties and behavioural problems, was disruptive over a long period and was involved in more than 30 separate incidents between September 1995 and February this year. In January, he was excluded for five days, during which time he twice returned to the school, only to be removed by the police.

Members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), to which 20 of the 38 staff at the school belong, say they will begin an indefinite strike on Friday if he is not permanently removed from the school.

The union says the local authority referred to his exclusion as "a reasonable course of action," bearing in mind the boy's history of disruption. However, an independent appeals panel decided that he should be returned to school.

Since then he has been kept separate from other pupils, supervised by the head teacher.

The NASUWT has been involved in an increasing number of disputes over disruptive pupils, and has called for more special units to be opened to deal with them.

Its members have voted for all-out strikes on two previous occasions, one involving a disruptive primary school pupil in Birmingham and the other at the Bishop of Llandaff school in South Glamorgan, where staff refused to teach a group of boys who had sexually assaulted a girl.

Nigel de Gruchy, the union's general secretary, said that in this case it had not been able to find any solution.

"This boy has been disruptive over a long period of time. We won't have him back. The demand that NASUWT members should put themselves and the other children at risk through accepting this unruly boy back in their classes is unreasonable," he said.

The boy's mother, Rita Wilding, has said she is considering legal action in order to get him back into school properly and that he is distressed by being kept apart from other pupils.

"He cries before he goes to school and he cries when he gets home. I know he has problems but this is no way to treat him," she said.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire County Council said it was doing all it could to find a solution to the problem.

"The county council's education department is now working with the head teacher to find a solution which meets the educational needs of the pupil and at the same time addresses the concerns of the teachers," he said.

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