Page last updated at 08:46 GMT, Monday, 13 April 2009 09:46 UK

Classroom powers 'not being used'

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Head teachers and governors should do more to support teachers dealing with bad behaviour, according to a report on discipline in English schools.

The study by the government's behaviour expert Sir Alan Steer says school leaders do not make enough use of powers to deal with problem pupils.

It calls for teachers and schools to be made more aware of these powers.

Sir Alan Steer also says children who disrupt classes should be isolated so they do not disturb classmates.

He recommends using "withdrawal rooms" as a temporary measure to stop class disruption.

Withdrawal rooms are usually used for support or short-term classes.

'Reasonable force'

In his report, Sir Alan calls on ministers to work with unions and school leaders to explain the rules to teachers and to give them the confidence to enforce them.

He said: "School provision out of the classroom should be used as part of a planned early intervention strategy and, if possible, before incidents of serious misbehaviour occur.

"These strategies could include a withdrawal room on the school site when pupils need to be removed from class immediately or for internal exclusion."

BBC education correspondent Kim Catcheside said the government had legislated to give teachers an explicit legal right to discipline pupils - but it was up to each school to decide how that should be implemented.

A new government pamphlet on children's behaviour spells out the methods teachers are able to use to maintain discipline.

It says teachers have the right to use reasonable force to control or restrain unruly pupils.

It is unacceptable for a pupil to disrupt the learning and teaching of an entire class
Schools Secretary Ed Balls

And it says that school management teams must take reasonable measures to protect their staff.

The pamphlet says: "There are a range of laws to protect you against harassment, malicious communications and defamation.

"For example if pupils misuse the internet or other camera phones to ridicule or attack you."

Schools secretary Ed Balls said he was working with the teaching union the NASUWT to launch a new leaflet to give teachers in England the information they need.

Mr Balls will respond to Sir Alan's final recommendations at the union's annual conference in Bournemouth later this week.

He said: "I agree with Sir Alan Steer that it is unacceptable for a pupil to disrupt the learning and teaching of an entire class. Pupils need to know that when certain boundaries are crossed they will have to bear the consequences."

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