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Unions 2000 Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Action on exclusion of violent pupils
delegates clapping
Mr Blunkett's announcement won loud applause from delegates
By Gary Eason at the NAHT conference in Jersey

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, has promised action over head teachers' complaints about being forced to take back violent pupils they have expelled.

The heads say local authority appeal panels are ignoring government guidance and ordering the reinstatement of pupils excluded permanently from school.

The authorities are under pressure to meet separate government targets for reducing exclusions by a third by 2002.

Mr Blunkett said he would consider changing the regulations to make it clear to appeal panels that it was inappropriate for youngsters who had used "violence or the severe threat of violence" to be "thrust back into the same school".

He said later that he did not think the small number of cases involved would dent the reduction in exclusions that was being achieved.

Pupils with knives

His announcement at the National Association of Head Teachers' annual conference brought loud applause from delegates.

On Tuesday head teachers had said that the problem was a growing one.

The union's general secretary, David Hart, revealed that recently two London schools had been forced to take back knife-wielding pupils who had threatened others.

He said of Mr Blunkett's response that he thought schools would welcome it.

"I would actually like him to go further and ask the appeals panels to pay serious attention as well to severe bullying and drug dealing, but that's something we can talk to his department about.

"I would rather have seen the targets dropped.

"The targets are a blight on the whole exclusion agenda."

He was not yet prepared to withdraw his threat to recommend to schools that they ignore appeal panel decisions - which, by law, they have to follow.

See also:

30 May 00 | Unions 2000
10 May 00 | UK Education
27 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
19 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
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