Teachers call for guidance on banning pupils

SCHOOLS are being too quick to exclude children because they cannot cope with bad behaviour, a teachers' union was told yesterday.

Delegates to the Professional Association's of Teachers' annual conference in Cheltenham voted for a new code of conduct on exclusions, to be drawn up by the six teaching unions. Otherwise the Government might impose tougher rules.

The conference also called for parents to share responsibility for children's behaviour. Jackie Hedley-Tuffs, of Devon, said a school was burnt down by a nine-year- old, but ratepayers - not the parents - bore the cost.

'If parents took more responsibility, we would not get it so bad later on. In France, if children misbehave the children lose their family allowance.'

In a report on exclusions, Her Majesty's Inspectors found there was a wide variety of practice, even taking into account similar catchment areas. In one local education authority, of 77 permanent exclusions, 40 came from just three of its 19 secondary schools.

Mary Sanders, of Bradford, said a code of conduct would help teachers, parents and children to know what behaviour was acceptable.

'Many teachers had no idea what they are expected to tolerate or report and what action will be taken when behaviour is unacceptable.

'In one school a young gentleman of 12 persistently disrupted classes and was warned. He swore at pupils and teachers. When asked to apologise he assaulted teachers. He broke two of my fingers. He stayed at school and no action was taken.

'In the same school, a normally well-behaved 12-year- old, frustrated by the bad behaviour of others, which was disrupting his education, swore at another pupil. He was suspended. We need a code of conduct,' she said.

The right-versus-left tension among teacher unions hampers professional progress, John Andrews, general secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers, told the conference yesterday.

Political positions had been adopted instead of concern for the interests of pupils and students, which should be paramount, he said. Teacher 'politicos' based their attitudes not on what was right for pupils, but on political positions.