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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 October, 2004, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Your views on school discipline
Mike Baker graphic
Mike Baker, BBC News education correspondent
We invited your thoughts on my column about whether politicians could have any effect on school discipline.

We received many e-mails on the subject. Below is a selection reflecting the range of views.

- Mike Baker, BBC News education correspondent

I am 13 years old and I used to be very naughty. I am not so much naughty now though but if I was to get the cane I would not even let teachers do it to me, I would say 'if you touch me with that I will hit you' and I think other boys like me would do the same. I even asked my class what they would do and they said that or they would run away.
Nick Robinson, Scarborough

The political party that re-introduces corporal punishment would certainly get my vote as I believe in the discipline of unruly children which works. Unlike the liberalised reward system currently in operation whereby a child can ruin other children's/teachers' lessons and sometimes personal lives and yet then goes on to receive special treatment at school and all sorts of goodies such as holidays and trips out from the likes of social services.

With today's children growing up able to run riot in home at school and on the streets without any form of discipline being available it makes sense to start somewhere and where better than in the school. But for any government to be successful at re-instating corporal punishment it must also remove the legal repercussions that will see parent after parent taking the school to court.
Michael Hearn, Hertfordshire

I think that even without the cane a lot can be done to improve discipline. At my old school, the best way to maintain it was to embarrass the student in front of his or her friends. If the Tories could alter the law so that a teacher could thoroughly humiliate a student without fear of legal reprisal, they wouldn't misbehave again.

Alternatively, sometimes all that needs to happen is for a teacher to lose his/her rag. In my music lessons there was never a misbehaved student simply because the teacher knew exactly how to reduce someone to snotty tears.
Jesse, Leeds, UK

Some elements of poor behaviour are linked to pupil disaffection often resulting from inflexibility and constraints of the curriculum. There are also links to challenging home circumstances and parental disengagement with the education process. There is little value placed on education.

Sure Start has helped parental engagement but is not available as universal provision and it will be some years yet before a proper assessment of its impact can be made nationwide. Pupil Referral Unit provision is helping, putting permanently excluded students back in mainstream schools by re-engaging them with the positive aspects of learning.
Jerry Glazier, Essex

In this debate over behaviour at schools, people are always overlooking one important point - parents. My own children are not only well behaved, but perform well at school (and no doubt the majority of children are). Why? Because they were taught to be that way!

Social behaviour is taught by parents, yet by watching parents with young children while shopping, it is clear to see how they are storing up problems for their future. Better behaved children in the future will only come about by teaching today's children to become better adults tomorrow.
Jon Ward, Clacton on Sea, Essex.

Put very simply the problem with school discipline is that a lot, but not all, of parents do not support the school and teachers. The status of teachers has dropped so significantly that parents in some cases will march into school making demands. One on occasion a parent wanted to sort me out, saying that if I upset his daughter again he would come looking for me. This was in front of his daughter. All I had done is ask her to remove jewellery that were not allowed under clearly published school rules.

Can politicians do anything about this - no, but they can do something about the status of teaching as a profession.
Wesley Carroll, Kent

Bring back smacking at home, bring back corporal punishment at school and give parents back the right to suitably punish their children when they need to.

I've been on public transport with dozens of incredibly badly behaved children who all need some firm punishment. Until this can be administered we are leaving a generation of children without any boundaries. I think the people who have banned smacking should be made to travel on buses with school children from normal schools and they'll soon be bringing back the cane.
Di Drinkwater

The government can pass law after law to allow schools to enforce discipline - but until parents and pupils are expected to take responsibility before their rights they will fail. School cannot and will never take the place of a respectful and caring home life. Teaching is now in too many schools (I have taught in five) secondary to crowd control due to poor attitudes fostered by parents who see school as cheap childcare.
Chris Harrison, Somerset

Having decided to change career direction in middle age, I began an Open University Post Graduate Certificate of Education. A couple of weeks at a local school was enough to disabuse me of the idea of wanting to enter the teaching profession. The school staff were immensely dedicated and hard working, but I did not want to take on a role which seemed to consist, not of furthering educational goals, but of keeping a classroom from the edge of chaos.
David Law, Manchester area

In my experience as a pupil and teacher, almost all of the most serious incidents of indiscipline come from pupils who come from unsupportive backgrounds, and who have been failed by the system of care which should be provided jointly by schools, social services and other support agencies.

The much more frequent, more minor incidents of bad behaviour are too often a result of the way teachers are trying to teach children the same way they did 40 years ago. Now we have a much wider range of abilities in school and far too many pupils are simply not being catered for in schools.
A., Scotland

The problem of troublesome students' actions infringing on instructional time is increasingly a problem here, too. In fact, at the school where I teach, our department intends to use our WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) review to urge the accreditation team to require administrative support for this faculty concern. Of course, how the administration ought to change current "solutions" is without precedent here. Unlike the UK, California never allowed corporal punishment, but some of us are wondering whether that might not be a remedy that ought to be tried.
Margaret Stone, San Francisco, California

Recent data indicates that approximately 50% of newly qualified teachers leave within five years which confirms that the present system is far from cost effective. No school teacher (or any other citizen) should have to endure physical attack, or verbal abuse as a normal part of their job. Consequently, every school should have a committee, composed only of the teaching staff, that alone should have the legal right to exclude badly-behaved students. Teachers are not policemen or social workers and they should refuse to teach recalcitrant and disruptive pupils.

The local authority could take responsible for the education of those excluded, and no financial penalties (these occur today) be imposed upon the school. The appeal committees, which have no responsibility for their decisions, should be disbanded forthwith!
John, Sheffield England

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