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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Teachers get discipline rights
Staged fight
Ministers believe poor behaviour must not be tolerated
Teachers in England are to be given stronger legal rights to restrain pupils and to punish badly behaved children, the government has confirmed.

Parents could also be fined if their child has been excluded but is roaming the streets.

Ministers have accepted the key recommendations of a behaviour task force, led by Essex head teacher Sir Alan Steer.

The group was asked to come up with ideas to improve behaviour in schools.

Its report - published on Friday - said schools should be able to apply for legal orders against parents who fail to co-operate with them.

Stability

The task force advocates contracts between schools and individual parents as a preventative measure.

Its leader Sir Alan Steer said: "Contrary to what is often said, most schools are orderly places that for some children provide the stability and security they don't have in the rest of their lives.

I am moving towards the wall for safety when a girl who is considerably bigger than I am does a shoulder tackle then addresses me as "Stupid f-----g little old lady"

"But we also know that a small minority of unruly pupils can make life very difficult for teachers and do real damage to the learning and attainment of other pupils in a class.

"The changes that we have recommended strengthen the authority of schools, giving them the confidence to take action and send a clear message to parents and pupils that they also have a responsibility in dealing with the problem."

The panel said teachers needed "clear and unambiguous" rights to discipline pupils and to use "resonable force" to restrain difficult pupils.

Poor behaviour

Their existing rights on discipline were based on case law, some of which dated back to the 19th century, the group said. The right to restrain pupils was however in the Education Act of 1996.

The task force - made up of senior teachers and heads - was set up by the government.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Of course schools need more discipline. European countries do not have any such problems
Keith, UK

Welcoming its contribution, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly said: "Ofsted also tell us that behaviour is good in most schools most of the time. But some schools still face real discipline challenges because there is too little consistency in dealing with poor behaviour.

"There is still too much low level disruption to lessons - backchat, rudeness, calling out in class - that makes teaching and learning more difficult.

"These proposals can help bring change not just to the rules but to the culture reaffirming respect in classrooms and putting teachers firmly in charge."

Key proposals
Stronger, clearer legal rights for schools
Greater use of parenting contracts and orders
Compulsory parental supervision of excluded pupils
A national charter of rights and responsibilities for teachers, pupils and parents
Pupils' behaviour must be evaluated by schools for Ofsted

The task force says it believes that good teaching is the key to promoting good behaviour and that schools need to have consistent strategies, followed by all staff.

Schools should be firm and parents' co-operation is vital, but so is the creation of a "culture of regard" between parents, pupils and staff.

The proposed reforms have won widespread backing. Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers said he was pleased parents were being urged to accept their responsibilities.

"I am especially delighted that the government accepts the need for teachers to have a statutory right to discipline pupils rather than leaving it to the vagaries of ancient and modern case law.

"It will aid teachers in tackling persistent low level disruption which is too often met with 'you can't do anything to me, miss'. This will help put a stop to that."

John Dunford, the general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association said: "It is about time that we see a better balance between the rights and responsibilities of parents. I am pleased that the government response to the report acknowledges this.

"With the active support of parents, schools have a good chance of dealing with ill disciplined young people."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See how one school deals with bad behaviour



SEE ALSO:
Setting the school respect agenda
22 Jul 05 |  Education
Advisers to tackle unruly pupils
20 May 05 |  Education
Diary of a school supply teacher
29 Sep 05 |  Education
Heads 'to get gun search powers'
08 Jun 05 |  Education
Teachers call for protection
01 Apr 05 |  Education
Head teachers complain of abuse
29 Apr 05 |  Education


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