Union chief seeks special schools for unruly pupils

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More than 100,000 pupils in mainstream schools are so disruptive they should be removed and taught in special schools, the leader of the second largest teaching union said yesterday.

The call for a return towards segregated education, made by Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, flies in the face of almost 20 years of efforts to integrate children with special needs into ordinary schools.

The number of children with behavioural problems now staying in ordinary schools was the biggest single factor behind the dramatic rise in permanent exclusions from 2,500 to over 11,000 annually in the last four years, Mr de Gruchy said. A report blaming integration for much of the increase in classroom disruption will be presented to the union's Easter conference.

The NASUWT's call for greater segregation in order to ease discipline problems comes as part of a package of demands directed at the Government taking power after the election.

The union will also ask a new administration to work with it to cut workloads by reducing bureaucracy imposed on teachers as a result of school inspection and pupil assessment. If nothing is done within a year, it will ballot members over a boycott of such tasks.

The NASUWT will also renew its calls for substantial salary rises for teachers who opt to stay in the classroom rather than seeking promotion and cutting back on teaching, offering in return to accept tough appraisals which could allow heads to get rid of poor teachers more easily. The present top salary for classroom teachers of pounds 21,000 should be raised to pounds 30,000, the union said.

Mr de Gruchy also challenged Mary Warnock, whose seminal 1978 report calling for children with special educational needs to be taught with their peers wherever possible formed the basis of the 1981 Education Act. Baroness Warnock should practise what she had preached, Mr de Gruchy said.

"If it is so important to care for these youngsters why doesn't she give up her job in the House of Lords and go and teach these youngsters and show how it should be done?"