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If schools are to fulfil the principles of Every Child Matters, they will need to review their staffing structures to make sure they can offer better support to pupils and parents.

That is a conclusions of the Practitioners' Group on School Behaviour and Discipline, led by Sir Alan Steer, head of Seven Kings high school in Ilford, east London. "Schools will need to ensure that the support and guidance which they provide to pupils and parents is appropriately focused on promoting pupil health, safety, enjoyment, achievement and economic well-being," says the group's report.

It recommends that by September 2007 every school should have a pupil parent support worker "or other staffing structure to deliver this function". So while some schools could decide to create a new post, others might choose to share responsibilities for supporting pupils and parents among a group of staff or give them to existing learning mentors.

Pupil-parent support workers would provide a link between schools and outside agencies and help excluded children continue with their work. They might also contribute to the extended schools initiative, for example, by arranging holiday clubs.

Ministers have said that they are "sympathetic" to these proposals. But headteachers' leaders warn that schools will not be able to appoint additional support workers without funding.

"There is absolutely no possibility of this happening out of school budgets as they are at present," says Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, which has welcomed the Steer report's recommendations. "The white paper does promise additional funding but unlike some of the funding we've been promised, it needs to be sufficient. We can't raid schools' budgets for these things any more."

Learning Behaviour: The Report of The Practitioners' Group on School Behaviour and Discipline www.teachernet.gov.ukpublications

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