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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2007, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Parents told to instil respect
The DFES behaviour guidance tells teachers to reward good behaviour
Education Secretary Alan Johnson has promised a tougher stance against disruptive pupils.

"We must develop a new three Rs: rules, responsibility and respect," he told a teachers' conference.

And he called on parents to "set proper boundaries" to stop their children "drifting into anti-social behaviour".

The Department for Education and Skills has issued guidance on classroom discipline - with teachers having clearer rights to restrain pupils.

"Most parents instil respect in their children. But there is a small minority who cause disproportionate damage... allowing their children to drift into serious anti-social behaviour which is a danger to them and to those around them," Mr Johnson told the NASUWT conference in Belfast.

"Public authorities cannot stand by - giving the impression that trashing your neighbourhood is a legitimate lifestyle choice," said Mr Johnson.

Bitten and headbutted

The classroom discipline guidance proposes that pupils should be given rewards for good behaviour - including prizes, privileges and postcards sent to their parents praising their behaviour.

Teachers will now have clearer rights to restrain violent pupils - but they will not have authority to act against pupils outside school.

The National Union of Teachers, holding its conference in Harrogate voted to speed up the process in which they could take industrial action in support of a refusal to teach violent pupils.

A union official from Calderdale, Sue McMahon, said: "My members this year have been:

  • bitten by a five-year-old
  • thumped by a six-year-old
  • kicked by a seven-year-old
  • spat on by an eight-year-old
  • punched by a nine-year-old
  • verbally abused by a 10-year-old
  • received malicious damage to a car by an 11-year-old
  • headbutted by a 14-year-old
  • received a facial injury so bad it required hospitalisation and surgery."

Veronica Peppiatt from West Sussex said some school managers dismissed sexual remarks as "harmless banter" or even said it was "flattering" for explicit references to be made to a young female teacher's physical attributes by teenage boys - or younger.

"I have come across a nine-year-old boy who came up to a young teacher in a playground and said 'Miss, are you wearing a bra under that T-shirt?' then shoved his hand up to find out and went 'Phwoar'."

The conference also agreed with a proposal from the union's leadership to undertake research into the impact of social class and deprivation on pupil achievement, motivation and behaviour.

This did not mollify some delegates. Islington teacher Ken Muller said he was a socialist who did not believe in blaming "the most vulnerable and deprived members of our society" for teachers' problems.

He recalled being in his classroom at the end of school one day when a colleague walked in with blood pouring from her head.

Violent attacks

She had kept a boy in detention at the end of her lesson to ask him why he had not been working during it.

"He picked up a chair and smashed her over the head with it," he said.

The reason he had done it was that his parents had split up the night before and had been arguing about him: neither of them wanting the boy to go with them.

But a past president of the union, Judy Moorhouse, said teachers who had been assaulted did not want "patronising homilies on classroom practice or home circumstances" trivialising their experiences.

Teachers were "beaten, kicked, stabbed and punched" and subjected to abuse on websites, she said.

If teachers believed their managements were not taking the matter seriously it must be right for their union to take action.

Teachers' rights law takes effect
02 Apr 07 |  Education
Teachers report violent assaults
23 Feb 07 |  Education
Behaviour tops parents' concerns
22 Feb 07 |  Education

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