Teacher tells of rape, murder and stabbings

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The Independent Online
A TEACHER yesterday painted a stark picture of life at his special school which houses children who have been accused of murder, stabbing and rape.

John Franks said there have been 35 arrests by police at Pitmore special school in Chandler's Cross, Hampshire, since Christmas, which, he said, served as a warning to the Government not to place more severely disturbed children into mainstream classes.

Two boys, aged 13 and 14, at the school had faced murder charges which were later dropped, he said. Two more, aged about 14, had been charged with multiple stabbing and another 14-year-old was charged with rape.

Five boys were also believed to have been victims of an alleged paedophile, Mr Franks told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference in Bournemouth.

He said there were also "numerous" incidents of drug abuse, burglary, criminal damage, self-mutilation, theft and drunkenness. Assaults on teachers at the school were an almost daily occurrence.

Mr Franks, who served on submarines for 17 years before entering teaching, said his work was "scarier than active duty" during the height of the Cold War.

He attacked government plans to integrate more special needs pupils into mainstream schools. He said: "What the Government has to appreciate is that some of these kids will never, ever, be capable of being reintegrated. Their chances of being reintegrated is reduced because we are not funded properly."

Mr Franks is one of only eight full-time teachers and eight assistants dealing with the school's 63 children. The 53-year-old head of technology earns pounds 21,500 after 11 years at the school; no more than he would receive for ordinary teaching.

"The emotional and behavioural disorder schools are the Cinderella of the education service. I don't think people realise the problems," Mr Franks said.

He added that the school had passed its Ofsted inspection despite the problems, but insisted it was impossible to judge such an institution alongside a normal school.

The Government's Green Paper on special needs, published last year, encourages more students to be educated in mainstream schools.

But a senior government source insisted yesterday that special schools would remain open for children with the most severe problems.

"Where parents want their children to be included in a mainstream school we would try to accommodate them. We have never said we're going to close special schools and clearly there are cases where children going to special schools is appropriate," he said.

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