Class terrors

THE abuse that some pupils routinely mete out on their teachers – both verbal and physical – is truly shocking. However, it would not have reached such extreme, and dangerous, proportions if the Government's policies actually helped school staff to enforce discipline.

On too many occasions, schools are forced to take back students whose behaviour, in previous years, would have warranted permanent expulsion. If they choose not to do so, they invariably have to accept,

as a quid pro quo, pupils who have been suspended from other educational establishments.

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The consequence is that this troublesome minority disrupt the education of those who want to learn, and that teachers have to spend a disproportionate amount of time attending to these problem pupils.

The situation would not be so serious if there was an adequate network of behavioural units for those children whose aggression poses a threat

to their teachers and class-mates.

However these centres have been radically scaled back because of the Government's misguided insistence that mainstream schools offer the best chance for disturbed youngsters to mend their ways.

With knives, and other lethal weapons, now commonplace in many schools, the greatest regret is that it will take the stabbing of a teacher – or an equally serious offence – for Ministers to act. By then, it will be too late.