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
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
* 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
* 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.'