THE call by a leading Scottish teaching union for problem pupils to be removed from mainstream education is a dramatic intervention into a debate that is a major concern for many Scottish families. Many know only too well how one disruptive pupil can damage the morale, discipline and learning opportunities for a whole class. Even when action is taken the consequences can be far from satisfactory. Cases of a pupil being excluded from one school and simply starting a campaign of disruption at another are unfortunately all too common.
The answer to this problem lies between the two extremes of the argument. Projects such as those run by Apex Scotland allow difficult children to be taught within their own school, but in a separate unit that allows a close focus on improving their behaviour. This is the way ahead. But until units like these are available in all Scottish secondary schools, extracting children and teaching them in a specialist local authority facility makes a great deal of sense.
What must be a given in our schools is that those children who want to learn can do so without intimidation, violence or disruption. Methods of addressing the problems of troublesome children must first ensure this is the case. Only then can the interests of all pupils be respected.