Don't let them get away with it

David Henderson reports from the NASUWT conference at Seamill on growing classroom disquiet over indiscipline

HEADS and deputes are ducking their responsibilities over indiscipline, Rhona Mackenzie, South Lanarkshire, said.

"Senior management do not play the role they should. All they do is tell colleagues to look at their curriculum," Ms Mackenzie told delegates. "Management bat it right back and they do not want to admit there is a problem and deal with it. We have to move away from the feeling that if indiscipline happens in the classroom, it is the fault of the teacher."

Primary teachers faced particular difficulties. "The problem is sitting in front of you five hours a day, five days a week and the kids are watching him trying to push the buttons and disrupt the class. The dilution of teaching time is enormous," she said.

Ms Mackenzie said it was time to change a culture in which it was deemed acceptable to tolerate low level indiscipline. Senior management had to accept the teacher's word about discipline problems with a child or group of children.

"We have to get it across to children and parents that we are not going to accept this kind of behaviour any longer," she said.

Brian Smith, South Lanarkshire, said :"The indiscipline in a small number of children is lowering the standard of education in the classroom. They deny others a right to education."

Tom Noon, Glasgow, said that most indiscipline stemmed from the inclusivity policies of the Scottish Executive. Senior managements in schools had to have the shackles removed and be able to exclude persistent offenders. John Kelly, an East Dunbartonshire secondary depute head, said that the Executive's drive to cut exclusions was "arrant nonsense".

John Henvey, South Lanarkshire, blamed many problems on pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties who previously were in special schools.

"Most of the indiscipline is caused by social inclusion. The silent majority are being affected by constant disruption and they see these kids getting most of the focus," Mr Henvey stated.

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