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Unions back bully initiative

PUBLISHED: 13:38 17 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:11 03 March 2010

TEACHING unions in Suffolk are backing a move to exclude more bullies from schools - but today warned there will not be enough referral units available to cope with badly-behaved pupils.

TEACHING unions in Suffolk are backing a move to exclude more bullies from schools – but today warned there will not be enough referral units available to cope with badly-behaved pupils.

Suffolk National Union of Teachers welcomed the Government announcement that schools could permanently exclude pupils who bully or who use violent behaviour against adults or children.

"This is a long overdue change of heart," said Martin Goold, NUT Secretary for Suffolk.

"Up to now, schools have been expected to contain violent pupils. The regulations have protected the rights of the offender more than the rights of the rest of the school community and schools have had to take back pupils when parents appeal."

However, Mr Goold said Suffolk was now ill-equipped to find places for excluded pupils in referral units following the controversial closure of Oakwood School at Stowmarket.

"When Suffolk closed Oakwood we lost 58 places for children with behavioural difficulties. They ignored our protest that schools could not cope."

He said the local education authority was behind schedule in opening new referral units and claimed staff were paid less at referral units in Suffolk than in other surrounding authorities.

Suffolk County Council's special education manager, Frances James, said: "We have an extensive development plan which will produce pupil referral units across the county and that will help pupils of all ages."

She said the LEA was intending to open four pupil referral units in the next year but was waiting to hear its budget allocation. The new Kingsfield Centre on the former Oakwood site is open for outreach work.

On the question of pay, Mrs James said that staff at pupil referral units in Suffolk already received extra allowances in recognition of their extra responsibilities, similar to those paid by other authorities.

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