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DISCIPLINE AT THE HEART OF SCHOOLS' STANDARDS - SHEPHARD

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Education and employment secretary Gillian Shephard today put discipline at the heart of the drive to improve stand...
Education and employment secretary Gillian Shephard today put discipline at the heart of the drive to improve standards in schools. She set out new measures to help schools combat the problem of disruptive pupils.

She said:

'Most schools are orderly places. But there is a small but significant number of pupils whose behaviour gives serious cause for concern. It is unacceptable for a minority of pupils to undermine the educational standards to which all our children are entitled.

'I am determined to ensure that schools get the help and support they need in dealing with disruptive pupils.'

Mrs Shephard set out a range of measures to ensure that schools can take action before problems run out of control; to provide effective education for pupils excluded from school and prepare them for an early return to mainstream schooling.

Responding to the immediate concerns of schools Mrs Shephard announced:

- an urgent review of the time limits for fixed-term exclusions

- a review of the arrangements for appeal against permanent exclusion from school

- consultation on a new statutory framework to enable schools to detain ill-behaved pupils

The department will also identify and build on existing success by:

- giving a key role to the Consultative Croup on School Standards in addressing pupil behaviour and discipline issues

- funding new expert support teams to help schools tackle behaviour and discipline problems on a pilot basis

- promoting school-based units for pupils at risk of exclusion

- asking the TTA for advice on training for school staff to help them manage pupil behaviour

- establishing a programme of secondments of mainstream teachers to pupil referral units, to provide practical experience of dealing with the most difficult pupils

- introducing national awards for schools which offer models of good discipline

- considering how to build on existing school-business links programmes to help motivate the most disaffected pupils

- asking HMCI to look at how the exclusions system is working in practice across the country, and what lessons can be learned

- issuing new guidance on the circumstances under which excluded pupils should receive home tuition

Mrs Shephard added:

'Discipline is not an isolated issue. It is at the heart of achieving high standards in our schools. So, in taking these proposals forward I am giving a key role to the Consultative Group on School Standards, chaired by Robin Squire. The members of that group are ideally placed to bring real expertise to bear. From their practical experience they know what is most effective in ensuring good behaviour and discipline in schools.

'I have also asked the group to advise me on what else we can do to help schools maintain and improve school discipline.

'I am also inviting the teacher associations, GM representatives and local authorities to discuss with us these proposals and other ideas they may have for improving school discipline.'

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