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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 July 2005, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Your views on pupil behaviour
Mike Baker graphic
BBC News education correspondent Mike Baker watched a seminar on pupil behaviour, featuring school staff and chaired by Tony Blair.

We asked for your views on his article. Here is a selection from the responses we received.

I skipped school when I was 14 or 15

years old. Why? Because school did not engage me. I found it boring.

I still left school with good exam results and have worked. I even today am a parent governor at my six-year-old son's school.

What is causing today's problems? Lack of firm discipline and political correctness. Why should the many suffer in class because a "child" wishes to disrupt the class for all. This "child" should be removed and the old adage you make your bed now you shall lie in it springs to mind. Make discipline firm and but within the boundaries. We all have policies in the work place: verbal warning, written warning etc.

Bring back standing corners and the cane. It never did me any harm, just taught me to take responsibility for my actions and bear the consequences of my actions and the effects they had on others.

Good firm handling did me no harm at all. Political correctness is destroying this country. The needs of the many must always outweigh the needs of the few.
Carl Thomson, Stoke on Trent

Fundamental aspects of inculcating positive behaviour and effective discipline in a school community must include the following:

  • Clearly explained unequivocal and non-negotiable boundaries, with regard to what is and what is not acceptable behaviour and having clearly understood and consistent methods of sanctions.

  • A high profile around the school at all times by senior staff. Encouraging support and technical staff who are often the only adults moving around school in lesson times to be active in supporting behaviour and reporting pupils not in classrooms.

  • An intensive and well structured programme of 'Care and Guidance', (Care being a reactive process and Guidance the proactive).

  • Simple changes to the structure of the buildings to provide 'subliminal discipline'. e.g. making sure that 'blind' areas in stairwells and corridors can be overlooked by the provision of a window into a classroom or simply by putting windows in solid classroom doors so that the classroom might appear to extend into the corridor and staff are therefore not isolated in an enclosed environment.

  • Celebrating the positive. It is very hard to be indifferent, unresponsive and uncooperative if someone else is giving you praise.

  • Ensuring that success is celebrated publicly and that mechanisms are in place for all in the school community to see such success as something they can sign up to and for which they have a sense of ownership.

    There are many more initiatives I might quote but suffice to say that any process of positive behaviour management and behaviour modification is highly complex, requires ownership by the whole community, is expensive on staff time and in obtaining the highest expertise, requires constant evaluation, moderation and modification and is continuous and requires long term investment.

    There is no "quick fix", as the government would no doubt wish.
    Paul Strong, Welton, Lincoln, Lincolnshire

    I often note that students are lacking in some of the basic social skills when they arrive at secondary school - quite a number of them don't say "please" or "thank you" and most don't know how to shake hands.

    When these basic skills are lacking I realise how little their parents actually teach their children to ensure that they have the basic tools to start out in life.

    A programme to educate our future citizens in parenting skills might go a long way to aid us in building better behavioural standards in school.

    However one looks at it, well-balanced children emerge from good parenting by well-balanced parents - and precious few parents currently seem to be able to discriminate in matters of their children's behaviour and tend to condone their behaviour however poor it is.

    Until the nation's parents take the bull by the horns and address their responsibilities, schools are going to have an uphill struggle in the matter of behaviour and respect for each other.

    When the parents don't show respect for their own children - by laying down clear guidelines of behaviour and expectations for self-responsibility, the result will be yet another generation who will be blighted by lack of listening skills, poor behaviour and little motivation to do anything other than want to play around at school.
    Gill Chesney-Green, Gotham, Nottinghamshire

    The "leadership group" has failed to include the option of physical punishment - a time-honoured and effective cure for indiscipline.

    If punishment was not effective, it would not be used by the military. If a soldier breaks an army regulation, they are ordered to carry out painful physical exercises.

    The army knows you can't build anything useful on rotten foundations, so first it weeds out moral weakness in a soldier by breaking their will first. Then they can build genuine moral fibre from scratch, and respect for the self and others results.

    Everybody knows this. It's a matter of common sense. So, until this group admits that punishment is not necessarily a bad thing, and that it was a stupid idea to get rid of it in the first place, it will never solve indiscipline in schools.

    Of course, this simple truth doesn't involve a trendy quango or a national charter, so it seems we'll be stuck with the problem for some time to come.
    David McDowell, UK

    Dame Maureen Brennan absolutely right in as far as she goes. The two-way respect thing can be made to work well.

    Unfortunately, in my experience teaching in secondary schools over the last three years, this is not the be-all and end-all of the situation. Far too many of our secondary schools lack senior management with the vision, commitment and attitude of Dame Maureen.

    Far too many are more interested in perpetuating division and bullying within their own staffrooms than tackling the real issues involved in running effective schools, and giving sufficient support to those who dare to risk entering the teaching profession.

    Pay teachers sensible salaries; give them support from the top in their efforts to instil discipline; drop the "inclusion-at-all-costs" mentality and recognise that there is a small but significant minority of pupils whose inclusion is seriously detrimental to the majority.

    Recognise and reward competent headship.
    Tony Seaton, Warwickshire

    What a load of wishy-washy rubbish. Since when have less-than-state- of-the-art buildings or the traditional school bell suddenly become an excuse for bad behaviour? I simply cannot believe what I have read.

    Until the simple equation bad behaviour + truancy = punishment is standard practice, nothing but nothing is going to work.

    For starters, it would make sense to get this "leadership group" enrolled at the local school without delay.
    Michael, London

    No child should be allowed to carry a mobile phone in school. Students who find them "essential" should be required to leave them in a secure office at the start of the school day, ready for collection at the end of that day.

    This may seem a narrow little subject in the panoply of discipline concerns but it is symbolic. Children need to understand that the adults in front of them are "in charge" and that education really matters.

    Teacher authority should not be undermined by text messaging in lessons, phone calls home, secret photography etc.

    There should be a nationwide blanket ruling - no mobile phones in schools. Fiddling with ringtones, text bullying, mischief with images - none of this belongs in classrooms.
    Neil Theasby, Sheffield

    Coming up with all these ideas is very fine, but it does not address what I and many others think is the heart of the problem - large classes.

    In many schools there are up to 35 pupils (or sometimes even more) in one class. The room is frequently too small and the individual abilities of each pupil are widely spread.

    The content of lessons has increased, so there is less time to teach and explain. Pupils are young people, and with them, like with anyone, if something is not grasped, it can lead to frustration, and in a crowded environment, anger and misbehaviour.

    There should be smaller classes, more and better motivated (and trained) teachers, and to some extent at least, a return to the three Rs.

    Today's teachers are expected to do so many other things, they frequently have little time for preparing, teaching and correcting. If things keep on as at present, things will only get worse.
    Roy Philpott, Offenburg Germany

    Blair seeks to curb barred pupils
    20 Jul 05 |  Education
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