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Indiscipline and a falling tsar

'Tis a truly depressing time indeed to be a teacher. With the announcement of new measures to combat indiscipline (TESS, last week), one might think a new era was about to dawn on Scottish education.

Yet a close reading of the proposals of the newly appointed "discipline tsar" in your pages shows that it is business as usual. One of the "initiatives" involves classroom observation of teachers.

This will lead to discussion of disciplinary issues within the lesson and a recommendation of "strategies" to combat problems. Once again, the focus falls on the teacher. Implicit in this approach is the notion that the teacher's behaviour led to the indiscipline, and modification of the teacher's actions will stem this.

At no point is the fault laid at the pupil's door.

We are led to believe that more training and courses will lead to better discipline within the classroom. We, as teachers, are responsible for the situation, not the pupils who in days gone by would have been allocated to special schools; nor a government whose social inclusion policy has led to a rising tide of indiscipline and violence.

The outcome: teachers will stop complaining. No one will want repeated visits to their classroom by these discipline "experts" to recommend further new approaches to tackling the impossible child. From the Executive's point of view, its targets will have been achieved: complaints about indiscipline will cease. Exclusion figures will have dropped further, and nothing will have changed.

A depressing time indeed.

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