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Clustering together again

Cluster training is again to be at the forefront of a major national initiative, this time on improving classroom discipline.

Peter Peacock, the Education Minister, announced last week that all local authorities will be given pound;15,000 to train teachers as behaviour co-ordinators in each school or cluster of schools. They will then be invited to help others take practical steps to intervene early where there are difficulties.

East Ayrshire, where staged intervention was first introduced in Scotland, will co-ordinate the training. Two staff have been seconded to the Scottish Executive. Mr Peacock said: "The real advantages are that it is based on peer support for teachers and that a small investment in training behaviour co-ordinators can create a practical, long-term resource in schools."

A school can nominate a teacher at any level to become a behaviour co-ordinator or coach after a five-day course. Their role is to support teachers to develop their own solutions to problems they are facing in class. The relationship between teacher and coach is completely voluntary and confidential. Staged intervention involves three phases. Stage one looks at environmental factors, rather than focusing on individual pupils.

Any changes to the classroom are reviewed after six weeks.

Stage two is triggered if there is no change in behaviour and if difficulties are down to certain pupils. Plans for individual behaviour are introduced and are designed to build on previous plans.

Stage three intensifies the action and may involve direct intervention and support from outside the school.

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