Child Expert Slams School

The expulsion of five-year-old Tamara Howard from a Manchester school has been slammed by a leading expert on children’s behaviour. Professor Peter Farrell, an education psychologist at Manchester University, said he was “surprised” she was thrown out after attacking teachers. He said: “To expel a five-year-old is very surprising and rare.

“One has to question how a situation can be got to that her behaviour is so difficult that the school has to permanently exclude them.”

Tamara is thought to be the youngest child in the region to have been permanently excluded.

As revealed in yesterday’s M.E.N., staff at Old Moat Primary, in Withington, said they had no choice because her behaviour was unmanageable and threatened the education of her classmates.

Prof Farrell added: “I am pleased to see that, in this case, educational psychologists were called in.

“They might have had a role to play in managing difficult behaviour and preventing exclusions taking place.

“But it seems that the school felt it was necessary to take this action after the first consultation with the psychologist.”

Prof Farrell, who earlier this year produced a hard-hitting report about a national shortage of school psychologists, said more work could be done to help teachers and other staff use different strategies for dealing with difficult children.

Tamara had previously attended the school’s nursery and started lessons at the primary in January.

Temporary exclusion

She is accused of attacking teachers and other pupils on several occasions.

She was temporarily excluded for 15 days last month after repeatedly hitting a teacher on an arm, causing cuts and bruises, and also attacking a classmate.

In a previous incident, she was accused of attacking six members of staff.

Before Tamara was to return to school, head teacher Merna McVeigh decided to expel her over fears she would “seriously harm the education and welfare of pupils and others”.

She has not been to school for three weeks and must wait a further four weeks for a meeting with school governors, who will decide whether to back or overrule the head teachers decision.

Her mother Angela admitted her daughter had challenging behaviour but said she believed the school could have done more to help. Manchester city council said they were offering support to the family, who live close to the school, and would attempt to find a new school place for the child.

Several comments were also posted on the M.E.N website – many of which were supportive of the school’s decision.

One user, Miss D, from Manchester, said: “Schools are not there to psychologically assess each child.

“They are there to teach and while the teachers were dealing with this girl, other children were not being taught and having their education neglected.”

But another website user, Pamela, from Crumpsall, commented: “This is a five-year-old, for goodness sake.

“Are teachers so incompetent nowadays that they can not try to find alternatives to excluding a child at such an age when they can still be shown right from wrong?”