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Book of the week: Judging School Discipline

Judging School Discipline: the crisis of moral authority By Richard Arum Harvard University Press pound;25.95

Pupil misbehaviour consistently features in the top three reasons why qualified teachers leave the profession in the UK. Most teachers would say behaviour has worsened in recent years. But, according to Richard Arum's book, the situation could deteriorate further unless the moral authority of the school is continually reasserted and, in particular, unless the judiciary recognises its important role in creating a climate in which schools can maintain a sound disciplinary basis.

Arum, a professor of sociology in New York, traces the pattern of judgments in American courts from 1960 to 1992 and contends that the dramatic increase in educational litigation during the late 1960s and early 1970s brought the expansion of the individual rights of the student into conflict with the schools' attempts to control student misbehaviour, from which he believes American schools have never wholly recovered. During this period, students developed a sense of legal entitlement, which made them sceptical of the school's authority and this influenced permanently the way in which schools organised their disciplinary processes.

Read this review in full in this week's TES Friday magazine

John Dunford is general secretary of the Secondary Heads Associationnbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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