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EDITIONS
Friday, 11 October, 2002, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Death threat pupils offered new places
Glyn Technology School in Epsom
The boys attend Glyn Technology School in Epsom
Two boys expelled from school for making death threats, then reinstated on appeal, are being offered alternative places by officials from the local education authority.


I haven't gone through five months of hell with my family to now accept that my son will go to a referral unit

Boy's mother

The authority was pressurised by the Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, to try to get the boys - both in their GCSE exam year - educated elsewhere.

But the mother of one of the teenagers, Sue Aldred, said that as far as she was concerned her son, who is now 16, was still a member of Glyn Technology School in Epsom, Surrey.

The education authority - Surrey County Council - says meetings with parents have taken place but no decisions have yet been made.

Spokesperson Tim Edwards said: "Everyone needs calm and measured conversations and a bit of time to think things through."

He said he "really couldn't comment" on Ms Morris's intervention.

"Our only concern is to find a solution to this problem - a very difficult problem."

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has revealed that its members at the school have voted 14 to one in favour of refusing to teach the boys.

Two other unions at the school are still to announce the decision of their members.

Law on boys' side

Ms Morris's intervention - she was said to be "furious" about the case - has no legal force.

Reasons for appeal panel's decision
procedural error in the case
threats out of character and would not have been carried out
importance of continuing boys' education.

The local exclusion appeal panels are independent and their decisions are binding - and Mrs Aldred knows that.

She said she had no intention of having her son moved to a "referral unit" for disruptive pupils.

He and the second boy were expelled from the school in June after making abusive phone calls to PE teacher Steve Taverner, who is off work due to stress.

mother
Sue Aldred says her son is still a member of the school

They apparently turned on Mr Taverner after he disciplined them for throwing stones at windows.

They said: "You have five days to live" and "You are going to get stabbed in the back of the head."

A third boy who was also involved was suspended from school for 15 days.

Mrs Aldred did not deny her son had made the calls but said he had "served his time".

"I haven't gone through five months of hell with my family to now accept that my son will go to a referral unit."

Mr Taverner said he had been appalled at the boys' reinstatement.

"I'm shattered by the decision that is stopping me from going back to school and I'm under a lot of stress over what has happened," he said.

The boys returned to school this month - but teachers have refused to teach them.

They have been educated apart from other pupils by a supply teacher, with a second due to join the school on Monday to help with this.

Guidance

The incident has turned the spotlight again on the powers schools have to exclude pupils.


Teachers must be protected otherwise the education of all the other pupils suffers
Simon, UK

To read more of your comments, click here
Glyn Technology School's head teacher, Stuart Turner, said: "Expulsion is an act of last resort and a school never takes such a decision lightly, but we must be able to make schools a safe place for everyone.

"Appeal panels that reinstate to their schools these disruptive pupils are undermining a school's ability to govern itself."

For this reason, two years ago the government issued new guidance to appeal panels.

Teachers on panels

This said students who had even threatened violence should "not normally be reinstated".

Estelle Morris said only last week: "One child threatening or abusing one teacher in one of our schools is one too many."

She has changed the law so that classroom teachers will sit on the panels - but not implemented this yet.

Her junior minister, Stephen Twigg, said the change would take effect in January.

"I believe we may well have had a different decision in this case had we had a teacher on that appeal panel," he said.

But Mrs Aldred said two of the three members of the panel in this case were teachers or ex-teachers - and it had taken a day and a half to reach its decision, having considered all the evidence.

She said this was a crucial year for the boys, with GCSE exams looming.

"They've missed five months of schooling now in an important year ... it's just a nightmare at the moment."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's James Westhead
"A barrage of abusive messages"
Sue Aldred, mother of one of the boys
"The boys have said they are sorry"
Abused teacher Steve Taverner
"They said 'you're going to get stabbed in the back of the neck' and 'we're going to kill you'"
See also:

11 Oct 02 | Education
10 Oct 02 | Education
10 Oct 02 | Education
04 May 01 | Education
16 Jan 02 | Mike Baker
16 Nov 01 | Education
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