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Improving discipline - or not

Further to the comment in your letters page (TESS, October 3) on the "disappointing outcome of the Scottish Executive's pound;10 million drive to improve discipline", the contrast with the experience of the Behaviour Improvement Programme (BIP) in England is rather stark (see "Behaviour plan packs punch - suspensions tumble", TES, September 9). Perhaps this is because BIP took some care to support evidence-based methods.

On this theme, your correspondent offers an anecdote concerning a perception that Critical Skills (CS) training has had an influence on suspension rates in Bristol. It is actually extremely difficult to locate any adequate evidence of any effect of the CS programme on any educational outcomes, although some relevant research is currently in progress at Glasgow University.

This contrasts, perhaps also starkly, with the Philosophy for Children (P4C) programme in Clackmannanshire, which has excellent objective evidence for effectiveness, and has been costed at less than pound;250 per teacher with lower recurrent costs in ensuing years.

At a quarter of the quoted cost of CS, the cost-effectiveness of P4C reflects well on the thinking skills of Clackmannanshire Council.

Keith Topping

Professor of Educational and Social Research, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Dundee

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