Strike threat lifted after deal on boy, 13

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The Independent Online
Teachers lifted a threatened strike over a disruptive 13-year- old boy last night after a last-minute deal was struck to keep him out of lessons. Staff at Glaisdale school in Nottingham had been due to stop work indefinitely from today in protest at the excluded boy's return to school.

Richard Wilding, who was said to have been involved in more than 30 incidents in less than two terms, will now be taught at home by a tutor and in a special unit. He will remain on the school but will not attend.

Richard had been excluded temporarily on three occasions before being permanently excluded in February. The local authority approved his removal but an independent appeals panel backed his parents, Rita and Philip Wilding. They wanted Richard returned to Glaisdale and were not prepared to accept any alternative.

It was revealed yesterday that Mrs Wilding was convicted of assault after attacking and disabling a housing officer who called at her home four years ago to discuss repairs to a wall. Gerald Bunting, 55, suffered serious spinal injuries and now has to walk with crutches.

Members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), which has 20 members among the school's 38 staff, voted to strike rather than allow the boy back into their lessons. The other unions at the school discussed the possibility of refusing to teach him.

Earlier this week Richard was being taught at Glaisdale by a supply teacher, in isolation from other pupils. He was not allowed to meet his friends at break times or even to go to the toilet on his own, but a teachers' union claimed he had still threatened another pupil.

After a meeting with the family, the county council and the school's head teacher on Tuesday, a deal was struck allowing Richard to be taught on his own at school as well as receiving lessons at home and in a special unit. However, the NASUWT refused to accept this and confirmed on Wednesday that the strike would still go ahead. A further meeting with the parents yesterday yielded the new deal.

Last night Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the union, said he was immensely proud of his members' action which was "trades unionism at its best".

"The principle has been established that parents do not have the right to choose whatever school they like for their children regardless of the behaviour of their offspring."

He added that his members at another school had already been balloted on industrial action after an appeal overturned an expulsion, he said.

Richard's parents were angered by the result, but hoped he would be able to return to Glaisdale. "We are extremely disappointed with the attitude of the unions. We feel Richard has been used as a scapegoat and a pawn in a political game," they said in a statement issued through their solicitor.

The Wildings had the law on their side but ministers said that children who had been excluded more than twice might lose their right to appeal.

Letters, page 14

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