School discipline problems require whole-community response

Schools must combine forces with the police, social services and the wider community if they are to combat bad behaviour in the classroom, local government leaders insisted this week.

Responding to the key recommendations made last week by the group set up to look at school behaviour and discipline, the Local Government Association warned that any problems of bad behaviour among children and young people could not be addressed in schools alone.

“Behaviour in schools cannot be treated in isolation,” said councilor Alison King, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board. “Children and young people are badly behaved in their homes and communities, not just in the classroom.

“If we’re going to deal with antisocial behaviour, then as well as focusing on what happens in schools, we must work with police and social services.”

The taskforce, a group of teachers and headteachers, proposed the introduction of a clear legal right for teachers to discipline pupils, backed by an expectation that every school has a clear set of rules, rewards and sanctions.

It also recommended extending the use of parenting contracts and orders to allow them to be used as a preventive measure before a child has reached the point of being excluded from school. Every school would also be expected to employ a pupil parent support worker.

Under the key proposals – which have already been accepted by education secretary Ruth Kelly and will be included in today’s education white paper – parents would be legally required to ensure that any child of theirs who is excluded is supervised during their first five days of exclusion. Formal education must then be provided from day six – 10 days earlier than is currently the case.

“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,” said taskforce chair Sir Alan Steer. “The changes that we have recommended strengthen the authority of schools, giving then the confidence to take action and send a clear message to parents and pupils that they also have a responsibility in dealing with the classroom.”

  • Learning Behaviour from

  • See the December issue of 0-19 for a special focus on school discipline

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