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Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Call for 'sin bins' for three year olds
nursery school
Should nursery schools be able to expel children?
By Angela Harrison at the ATL conference in Torquay

Children as young as three should be moved out of school nursery classes because of their bad behaviour, teachers have said.

According to members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, behaviour among nursery school children is deteriorating and action is needed.

Suzan Gokova
Suzan Gokova: Bruised
Conference delegates are calling for naughty three and four year olds to be given extra help outside the main nursery classroom to help them calm down and develop better social skills.

Nursery teacher Suzan Gokova told BBC News Online that behaviour among nursery age children was getting worse.

"I have had bruises from children. I know other teachers and children who have been cut with scissors," she said.

"People are being spat at and kicked and I have seen chairs hurled around the room by children."

Ms Gokova, who works in Claremont Primary and Nursery School in Nottinghamshire, said that for the safety of children and staff, children who misbehaved badly should be put into special units.

'They need attention'

She said the units could either be in the school or outside - serving a cluster of schools.

Children at the nursery or "foundation" stage of schooling cannot be formally expelled, as in the main part of school.

Ms Gokova said at the moment, if children behaved violently, the nursery could only ask their parents to take them home.

"They need one-to-one attention to help them overcome their problems, and unlearn what they have learned," she said.

Philip Brooks
Philip Brooks: Exclusions might be necessary
She believes the problems stem partly from the children's upbringing and partly from the media the children are exposed to.

"Quite a lot of parents need help in learning how to give their children boundaries in behaviour and learning.

"Many children are just put down in front of the television, with no-one to talk to.

TV influence

"They watch shootings, shouting and fighting and often can't distinguish reality from an unreal situation," she said.

Proposing the motion is Nottinghamshire supply teacher Philip Brooks, who believes that unless bad behaviour is curbed early, the problems are passed on to secondary schools.

He said: "We are not calling for exclusions, but that is a line to which we can retreat if the situation does not improve."

And he thinks it would be in the best interests of the child - and schools in general - if something was done early.

"If a child can't settle down, education won't be easy for them or for the others who are trying to work."

He said there might come a point where the ATL might have to call for nursery-age children to be excluded.

Not everyone agreed with the proposals. Abigail Roberts, a primary school teacher from Cardiff, said: "As every child learns, they make mistakes.

"What sort of teacher would I be if I used zero tolerance every time a child makes a mistake?"

See also:

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