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Key points from the report

Only sustained effort and commitment over time can make changes to indiscipline, the task group emphasises. But key improvement themes recurred.

They are vision and leadership; the importance of high-quality learning and teaching; participation in decision-making by teachers, pupils and parents; consistency in implementing agreed policies; and holistic support through multidisciplinary approaches.

Teachers need to have and share high expectations with children, while staff responsible for the care and welfare of pupils should be given time and resources to do the job effectively.

It was "heartening", says the group, to discover that complaints from teachers about increasing demands on them from policies linked to social inclusion and alternatives to exclusion were mostly about the lack of appropriate strategies and resources.

Recommendations:

* Policy targets to be focused on school ethos and discipline and a national strategy introduced to manage the implementationof the recommendations. The Excellence Fund to focus on positive behaviour.

* Flexible provision in all secondaries and designated primaries, including in-class support and facilities to educate pupils outwith normal classes.

* A national programme on parenting skills should be developed, backed by a national campaign focusing on parents' rights and responsibilities.

* Schools to consult on a dress code in creating a learning community.

* A national system or network for passing on good practice in discipline initiatives.

* Schools to adopt policies on pupil care, welfare and discipline with attention to expectations, rules, rewards and sanctions. They should implement consistent procedures for managing pupils in and around school.

* The Scottish Executive to spread the lessons from the "staged intervention" programme now being trialled in East Ayrshire. It helps teachers to manage low-level disruption through effective classroom strategies.


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