Pupil excluded for threatening to blow up teacher

City council policy says exclusion should only be a last resort. Picture: Phil wilkinson
City council policy says exclusion should only be a last resort. Picture: Phil wilkinson
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A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD child has been excluded from a city primary school after he threatened to “blow up his teacher”.

The child’s parents were told on Tuesday evening that their son must stay away from the school until tomorrow at the earliest following the incident, which is said to have left him ­distraught.

The boy’s mother accepted that his behaviour had been wrong, but accused the school of being too heavy-handed and said the youngster was being treated like “a thug”.

Edinburgh City Council backed the stance, which it said had been taken following a “series of events” at the school.

The mum said: “You hear of things going on in schools in America and if someone in their teens said it, of course you’d take it seriously. But he’s seven years old. He doesn’t know how to light a match. I’m disgusted, they’ve made him out to be some sort of thug.

“I got a phone call from the headteacher saying they weren’t prepared for staff or teachers to be threatened, and that he could do with a few days cooling off.

“Kids do say daft things sometimes, but they have taken it to the extreme. He’s never hurt anybody. He shouldn’t have said it but there’s been no need to treat him like they have.”

A meeting between the boy’s parents and staff at the school to discuss the behaviour and his readmission to classrooms is due to take place tomorrow. It is believed that the argument between the pupil and teacher began when the child was told he would not be able to go out into the school’s playground.

The mum added: “They said no, which I can understand. But then it’s gone from that to him being excluded for threatening to blow things up.

“He’s been there since nursery. He keeps bursting into tears because he isn’t allowed back to the school. He’s the type of kid who wants to be friends with everybody. He doesn’t understand why he said it, he just did it out of anger.

“He says it was just meant to be pretend like cartoons. I think he got the idea from a Disney game on the Xbox.”

Tina Woolnough, Edinburgh parent representative on the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said that issues of exclusion were “never black and white”.

She said: “It must be very unusual to exclude a child so young. We don’t want to remove the last sanction schools have, but there needs to be a safety net.

“We need to know where they’re being excluded to. For some children, school is the only place they can get a hot meal.”

Edinburgh City Council’s policy on exclusions says that the measure should only be implemented as a “last resort”. In 2011, across the city’s schools, 1567 pupils were sent home for a period of time.

The average rate of 35 per 1000 exclusions in the Capital was below the national average of 40 per 1000.

A council spokesperson said: “The school acted appropriately in this situation and will continue to support the pupil and their parents to help ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

ALTERNATIVE STRATEGIES

THE city’s schools are told that “alternative strategies” to exclusions should be put in place.

One of the initiatives to encourage good behaviour used in many of Edinburgh’s primary schools is the concept of “golden time”.

It sees children given part of a day, usually on a Friday, to engage in fun activities which can include arts or games.

But youngsters can see their golden time slashed or removed by teachers if they misbehave during the week.

Council guidelines state that schools should be inclusive places, and that exclusions are only used in “very serious” cases.