Pupils given 'charter for violence'

EXPELLED pupils allowed back into the classroom against the wish of their teachers are being given a “charter for violence”, it has been claimed. Essex teacher Joy Higgins has criticised independent appeals panels that can reinstate unruly youngsters to a school after they have been expelled.

EXPELLED pupils allowed back into the classroom against the wish of their teachers are being given a “charter for violence”, it has been claimed.

Essex teacher Joy Higgins has criticised independent appeals panels that can reinstate unruly youngsters to a school after they have been expelled.

Joy Higgins, a maths teacher from Chelmsford, was speaking at the NASUWT annual conference in Birmingham in a debate about student behaviour.

She said pupils who won appeals against expulsion could undermine the authority of the headteacher and governing body and led to poor discipline among other students.


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“There is little regard for the impact that this is having on teachers and pupils,” Ms Higgins told the conference floor.

She told delegates that at her Essex school, which she declined to identify, one member of staff was “struck on the back of the head by a rugby ball”.

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The pupil responsible was permanently excluded but subsequently allowed back on appeal.

“This sent a message to the pupils at the school that they had a charter for violence,” she claimed.

She added that three days later there was “a copy cat attack” on another member of staff.

Speaking to the EADT last night, Ms Higgins stressed that she did not oppose a pupil's right to appeal against expulsion in principle.

But she said the current system was not working.

“If the headteacher and the governors agree a serious incident deserves a pupil being permanently excluded and then that pupil is allowed back in on appeal it makes life very difficult at the school.

“I believe the independent panels which exist now should be replaced with something more effective and more sympathetic to the feelings of staff, governors and parents, rather than being more on the side of the LEA which is trying to get the number of permanent exclusions down.”

Jerry Glazier, general secretary of the Essex NUT, said: “I do not disagree with the sentiments of what has been said although there has been some changes to the composition of the panels to have more teacher representation on them.

“What really bugs teachers is where they are saying that a pupil can no longer be catered for because their behaviour is unacceptable and take the decision to permanently exclude them, the governors agree to it, but then a technicality is found and the exclusion cannot stand.

“The job of teaching is tough enough without having to have to try and deal with that - teachers and pupils deserve a safe and positive learning environment.”

He said that both violent and aggressive pupils had been returned into schools by the independent panels when a specialist unit would be far better for their education needs.

A Department for Education and Skills spokesperson said: “Pupils can be permanently excluded for a one-off violent offence and we support heads in making tough decisions within the law.

“Our guidance makes clear that we would not expect governing bodies or appeal panels to reinstate pupils in such circumstances. We fully back tough decisions to remove anyone who is behaving in an aggressive way.”

Stephen Castle, Essex County Council's cabinet member for education was unavailable for comment last night.

n Meanwhile, a survey of 800 members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found 71% had considered leaving the profession because of poor discipline.

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