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RESPECT IN SCHOOLS: LEADERSHIP GROUP ON PUPIL BEHAVIOUR AND DISCIPLINE

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Heads and teachers who are experts in school discipline will form a...
Heads and teachers who are experts in school discipline will form a

new group to work with government and key national stakeholders,

including all the teacher unions, to press home the drive to tackle

pupil behaviour, schools minister Jacqui Smith confirmed today.

The new leadership group on behaviour and discipline will advise the

government on how effective school discipline reaches every

classroom, how to improve parental responsibility for their

children's behaviour and deliver a culture of respect in all schools.

Ms Smith said:

'Real progress had been made in tackling serious bad behaviour in

schools. However, a culture of respect, good behaviour and firm

discipline must be the norm in all schools all of the time.

'The government has provided schools with powers, training, and

support to deal with disruptive behaviour, but we know that the real

work is done on the front line by heads and teachers. We cannot

simply legislate bad behaviour out of the classroom. It has to be

delivered on the ground by teachers with the full backing of

parents.'

Teaching unions and other professional associations have been invited

to nominate Heads and teachers who have a proven track record in

managing behaviour to sit on the group, chaired by Alan Steer of

the Seven Kings School, Ilford. Among the issues it will examine are:

* effective practice: serious incidents are rare, and the majority of

schools already have good discipline, but what needs to happen to

ensure this is the norm in all schools?

* new powers: schools have powers and a wide range of support to deal

with unruly behaviour, but what more or different support would help?

Ministers are not ruling out an extension of Heads' powers if Heads

believe these are required and they would make a practical

difference.

* teacher training: can teachers be further supported through initial

teacher training or professional development to ensure they are fully

equipped to manage poor behaviour?

* parents' responsibility: schools have every right to expect

parents' full support, not challenge, when it comes to discipline -

at home and in school. Penalty fines and parenting contracts and

orders are making an impact, but what more could be done to ensure

that all parents take responsibility for their children's behaviour

in school?

* collaboration: schools can tackle many discipline issues by working

together - for example in education improvement partnerships, using

resources from local education authorities to fund out of class

provision such as learning support units to 'cool off' disruptive

pupils or places in pupil referral units to remove the most unruly

pupils from schools. How can we build up effective collaboration and

spread best practice?

* national discipline code: is there merit in creating a national

code on behaviour which sets out the roles and responsibilities of

schools, pupils and parents, in promoting good behaviour?

* exclusion appeals panels: while exclusion appeals panels are vital

tokeep disputes from lengthy and expensive court cases, could the

process be made more effective to ensure that Heads' authority and

the interests of the school are paramount when excluding pupils?

* protecting teachers: although assaults on teachers are rare, they

should not happen at all. How can we press home to parents that new

sentencing guidelines now make it a more serious offence to assault

those working in the public sector, such as school staff?

The leadership group on behaviour and discipline will work

intensively over the next few months to produce a detailed report by

the end of October to be considered by a high level stakeholder group

chaired by Jacqui Smith which will include all the teacher unions,

Ofsted, local authority and parent governor representatives. This

high level ministerial stakeholders' group builds on the department's

existing behaviour and attendance reference group, with membership

drawn from the leadership of the key stakeholders.

Education secretary Ruth Kelly told BBC Radio Four's Today programme this morning that the working group will look at whether 'teachers and head teachers and local authorities who deal with these sorts of issues every day' need more powers to improve standards of behaviour.

She supported the right of appeal against exclusion, but she asked: 'Could the appeals process be streamlined and made more effective so that heads' decisions are backed.'

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