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Discipline is the order of the day

Thirty years ago (page four), they were the "recalcitrants" - pupils whose behaviour veered from low-level class disruption to physical assault on a teacher. Today they are still with us, but in greater numbers. Teachers are, if anything, more concerned about the impact of indisciplined pupils on the ability of the rest of the class to learn what the teacher is trying to teach them.

In three decades, it appears, far from progress being made, this insidious problem has grown disproportionately. In the early 1970s, the influence of television was blamed by some for the downward spiral of behaviour, while others thought that sabre-rattling teachers were simply failing to exercise discipline.

Perhaps more relevant were the comments about parents whitewashing their children and failing to support the school.

In recent weeks, we have seen the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association calling for unruly parents to be banned from general meetings of parents.

More recently, the Educational Institute of Scotland has made its pitch for a concerted effort from everyone to tackle indiscipline, to make 2005 the year this problem is curbed.

EIS proposals 30 years ago to exclude disruptive pupils on a show of hands in the staffroom were ill-considered. However, in 2005 it is right to suggest that none of the Scottish Executive's reforms will succeed unless schools can operate in a climate of proper discipline that allows teachers to teach and pupils to learn. Let us hope we do not have to listen to the same refrain in 2035.

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