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Anybody listening

The relationship betwen discipline, inclusion and motivation certainly was the welcome theme of last week's TES Scotland.

This was evident in the comments of Morag Gunion of HMI, Alan McLean of Glasgow's education psychology service, your own editorial and last, but certainly not the least, from John Loughton, the senior school student from Edinburgh in his honest, moving and insightful testimony.

Despite all the reassurances with regard to school indiscipline being a crisis which is now under control, the reality is that too many teachers and pupils are at best being prevented from the key task of teaching and learning in the absence of a safe, positive and challenging environment. At worst, the suffering being caused is costly and damaging.

The good news, of course, is that teachers are prepared to change; and teachers are certainly not to blame. The problem, however, is that there is a strong perception among many teachers that they are taken for granted and occasionally patronised when they do something well, and ignored when they question or challenge anything. They do not believe they are being listened to.

The Better Behaviour, Better Learning report has been with us for a while and, as far as I know, money has been downloaded for the Executive to fund its implementation. Why, then, has it barely surfaced in so many local authorities and so few schools?

The most valuable insight came from John Loughton himself with regard to the most difficult and vulnerable young people who turn against authority, and who may bully pupils and teachers. Schools should be more positive and flexible and have alternatives such as a less formal place for learning where people are more welcome and less intimidated.

The Executive seems convinced of this approach and the education authorities and school managers will hopefully take some action.

John, I hope someone is listening. Teachers have been saying this for a long time.

Hugh Donnelly Duncan Avenue, Glasgow

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